FREE Writing Course Hell
Contributor
Written by
Carolyn Robinson
September 2017
Contributor
Written by
Carolyn Robinson
September 2017

I'm new to writing a novel, so continuously learning to hone the craft of writing is an absolute. Unfortunately, I'm taking so many courses that my daily writing suffers. I'm trapped in "Free Writing Course Hell (FWCH)." Although a fictional place, FWCH's grip tightens around my brain causing me to stop functioning as a would-be writer. Where can I find help? Maybe my story will reveal an answer ...

After reading the book, "The Editor's Eye" by Stacy Ennis (I love this gal!), I searched online for Stacy's website, http://stacyennis.com. That's where I came across her online course, "Finish that book!" Her course description offered the assistance needed to tackle the revision of my first draft. Without hesitation, I signed up and paid for the course within five minutes. 

I downloaded the FREE products for the course and read on the third page of the workbook (I love downloading workbooks!) that a writer needs 'a solid book idea and concept' and 'a book outline.' These were two necessary items before digging into the "Finish that book" course.

To lock in the book idea, Stacy suggested completing her free course, "4 Steps to a Great Book Idea." And to create an outline - she suggests reading Chapter 3 from "The Editor's Eye" (free download if you don't have the book.) Eager to dive into the paid course, I started the '4 Steps" course and completed it within a couple of days. According to the steps in the course, my book idea was 'solid!' So I moved forward with re-reading Chapter 3 of her book and making notes in my trusty composition book.

I've tried creating an outline for previous writings only to find I would ditch the outline during the actual writing. It seemed like a waste of time to me, but for this book it was essential. I struggled with the outline for days which turned into weeks when I decided a break was beneficial for my body mentally and physically. It appeared I needed more information on mental illnesses to fill in gaps in my outline. I researched for information and set aside the outline.

While online I discovered another course for creating an author's platform. (I must admit, I'd never heard of an author's platform before.) But the ad suggested it was necessary for promoting a book. I paid for the course (with a little hesitation) and printed out pages and pages of workbooks and resources.

Now armed with a solid idea, an outline, and a platforming course, my new first draft would be easy to write. I'd write in the mornings and complete "Finish that book" and the platform course in the afternoons. But when I sat down at my laptop to write I was greeted with a blank page. Its whiteness stared back at me. I was stuck. The mental illness research needed to be added to my outline before writing my book. Rereading my original manuscript was necessary before adding the new information into the story. Break time! I went on the Internet and was greeted by old friends ...  'free' writing courses. 

Digging for more information about mental illnesses slowly gave way to signing up for more free courses. (Since money was scarce I'd only focus on 'free' offers.) One course would reveal another course or another professional offering a course. It was irresistible. I had to sign up. After all, this stuff was sacred ... the Holy Grail of information for writers. This scenario continued for several months. Instead of finishing the outline and writing my book, I took courses for writing my book. Due to my disability, I'm unable to sit at the computer for more than 20 minutes at a time. So, I'd print out the 'free' course information to read on my own time. Large piles of paper grew in my tiny office. They were stacked on my desk, bookshelf, table, and even on the floor. Eventually, it was difficult to find a path to my desk. An organization was the only answer.

Now my writing time was spent organizing the piles of paper, stapling them together or placing in 3-ring binders for future reading. I wasn't writing anymore. Instead, my time was focused on learning more about the craft of writing and organizing my office space. My email inbox, bursting with emails from experts in the fields of Facebook Ads, writing (characterization, mood, grammar), author's platform, author's website, Amazon e-books, social media, etc., beckoned me to complete their course.

Finally, only a few days ago, I realized what was going on. I'd been looking for reasons not to write my book. FWCH was an excuse. Researching information was an excuse. Signing up for more courses was another excuse. Why? Why did I need excuses to keep from writing? This book was and is important to me and I should be writing effortlessly applying all the knowledge I've learned from the courses. Why am doing other things instead of writing? FEAR.

I'm afraid. Fear overwhelms me. Fear stands boldly in front of me stating 1) I'm not good enough to be a writer, 2) my writing isn't good enough, and 3) what the heck was I thinking that I could possibly write a book? Fear is an ugly creature. It fills my mind with doubt and assists in steering me away from my dreams. It provides excuses like FWCH to justify my doubts. Ideas fly out the window and blank pages replace them. As I continue signing up for more classes and researching for more information, FEAR chuckles in the background.

The first draft of the Prologue is written for my book. But diving into the chapters requires more information ... or does it? The topic of my book is heartbreaking and the fear of facing those memories again is terrifying. But isn't this another excuse? And are my excuses valid? Are they justified?

A book burns inside of me coaxing me to let it out on paper. That burning desire, dream, or passion beats down fear as I begin to write. I've stared fear in the eye and said, "Screw YOU!" FWCH unlocks its door because I've taken my first step forward. I'm writing my book without further distractions or delays. My writing time invites me back with open arms. And for now, FWCH floats toward the background. I've broken loose and it's up to me to stay focused and out of Free Writing Course Hell.

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