Wednesday, September 14, 2016

2 Fighting Against Fear

We're thrilled to welcome Katrina Leno, author of THE LOST AND FOUND, to the blog today as she speaks on fear, depression and how she pushes through. 

"There will ALWAYS be little nagging worries in the back in our minds. As humans, this is very normal. Maybe it’s even necessary? Because if I didn’t have that voice in the back of my head assuring me I’ll never write another creative word in my life, I might not be pushed to prove it wrong." 

I recently—about two weeks ago—finished a first draft of a manuscript I’ve been working on for five-ish months. Five months isn’t a long time at all. I know writers who take a year or more to complete the first draft of a project, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that. We all work at our own pace. But for me, five months felt like an eternity. I finished the first draft of my first book in three weeks (many ten, twelve hour writing days). 

I finished book two’s first draft in less than two months. So five months felt like years of stagnancy and stops-and-starts. It felt like—should I even bother finishing this thing? Is there any value in this book? Will this ever even BE a book? (Because who knows, right? I’ve written books before that have never (and probably WILL never) see the light of day.)

Closing my laptop and walking away after completing the first draft of a book means an almost instant rush of panic. Questions like these race through my head:

Is that the last book you’ll ever write?

Is that the worst book you’ve ever written?

Is your career over?

Wait—have all your other books been terrible?

Why are you even doing this?

Why are you even doing ANYTHING?

Part of this is my depression, sure, but I think it will also ring true for those with a perfect bill of mental health (wait—do those people actually exist?). There will ALWAYS be little nagging worries in the back in our minds. As humans, this is very normal. Maybe it’s even necessary? Because if I didn’t have that voice in the back of my head assuring me I’ll never write another creative word in my life, I might not be pushed to prove it wrong.

So there it is, my worst fear when it comes to writing: that whatever pool of creativity is sloshing around inside my brain will dry up and leave me barren of anything resembling a good story idea.

This fear is pronounced. Here I am, two weeks after finishing that first draft, and I still feel too drained and empty to attempt anything more than a few notes on a new idea. Most of my energy is still delegated toward worrying about whether this first draft is any good; I have no energy to spare for anything else other than the basic functions of life. Get up. Eat. Go for a walk. Feed cat. Do laundry. Take shower.

Those fears creep in every now and then, weaving themselves in and out of the everyday tasks:

Will I ever write another book?

Should I even bother?

"So—how do I get past that? How do YOU get past that, if that’s also something you struggle with?" 

The answer will be different for everyone, but here are a few things that help me.

To-do lists. Make them as boring and basic as possible. Write things down that will be easy to cross off. (Make the bed. Clean the bathroom. Eat breakfast. Go for a walk.) Mundane to-do lists may seem a little pointless, but every time I cross something off my list (be it a mental list or a physical list, I do both) I feel like I’ve accomplished something. Gradually, you can start adding bigger things to your list. (Write 500 words. Go for a run. Make a blog post.) Start small, then increase your workload a little bit more every day.

Read. What better way to find inspiration for your own writing than to read or re-read good books? I never feel like I’m wasting time when I’m reading, because everything I ingest goes into my brain and swirls around and works to inspire or inform whatever I choose to write next.

Air and sunshine. What an obvious thing, but especially working from home, it’s so easy to forget these basic things our body needs to stay happy and healthy. Sit near a window. Go for a walk. Spend an hour on your deck. Nothing clears my head like a little fresh air.

Find a mantra. 

"Lately I’ve been repeating something simple to myself: A first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, but it DOES have to be written. Again, seems so obvious, right? But I can get really hung up on IS THIS GOOD ENOUGH when in reality, it’s a first draft. It doesn’t HAVE to be good enough. It just has to be SOMETHING."

These fears about writing, I’m guessing, will never really go away. I’ll always worry about whether I’m any good, whether my books are any good, whether I’ll ever write anything else. But recognizing these fears and starting to find ways to push back against them is so important. So pick up that pen or open that new word doc and remind yourself: 

A first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be written.


The Lost and Found
by Katrina Leno
Released 7/5/2016

A charming and imaginative new novel about getting lost before you can be found.

Frannie and Louis met in an online support group when they were both younger. They have never met face-to-face. They don’t even know each other’s real names. All they know is that they both have a mysterious tendency to lose things. Well, not lose them, exactly. Things just seem to…disappear.

They each receive news in the mail that sets them off on a road trip to Austin, Texas, looking for answers—and each other. Along the way, each one begins to find, as if by magic, important things the other has lost. And by the time they finally meet in person, they realize that the things you lose might be things you weren’t meant to have at all, and that you never know what you might find if you just take a chance.

The Lost & Found is a bighearted novel about connections (missed and found), family (the kind you’re born with and the kind you make for yourself), and unexpected journeys (on the road, and of the heart), from an author who Publishers Weekly called “a fierce new presence.”

View The Lost and Found on Goodreads
Purchase The Lost and Found at Amazon
Purchase The Lost and Found at Barnes and Noble


Katrina writes books for young adults, like THE HALF LIFE OF MOLLY PRICE and THE LOST AND FOUND, and hopefully a cool fourth book that she hasn't written yet but, (if all goes well!) it will come out Summer 2018!

She is represented by Wendy Schmalz.

If you like writing and photography, take a peek at her blog


  1. ooh, this sounds like a wonderful book!

  2. Sounds unique and fabulous! I look forward to reading it!


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