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August 2016

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I came across this quotation today: "If you are not nervous about your passion, you're not passionate about it." It's attributed to Bobby Flay, and I can't stop thinking about it.

People are sometimes surprised at how nervous writers get--about writing first drafts, editing, submitting a book, doing public appearances, reading reviews, and so on. It's not just first-time authors who get nervous; this includes well-known, multi-published authors. And I think that nervousness is driven not just by the uncertainty of this art and this business, but by what Flay is alluding to here. It's about having something at stake, having an emotional investment.

Not that nervousness is constant. There are those moments where everything clicks, when the writing comes together in a way that is its own reward, when our cup is so full it couldn't hold another drop. There are times when the characters feel like old friends. There are times of sheer joy.

It's like falling in love: there are those electric moments, and moments of uncertainty. There are the times when we hold our breath, the times we're living on hope, wondering if things will work out the way we want. And then there are the times of total ease and comfort, mutual trust, and just plain fun.

I hadn't thought about it quite this way before, but nervousness may be a necessary part of the game. It's based on a strong desire to do well, enough doubt to keep us humble, an acknowledgment that we don't control the universe, and most of all, it's the sign that we've invested something, that we care. Not too much nervousness, mind you--not a debilitating amount--but a little bit.


Today I was nervous and hesitant because I was about to write an important part of my ms. I was so nervous that I almost felt creatively paralyzed. I took a deep breath and rather than typing it on a computer, which seems more final, I tackled the scene with paper and pen. And for a first stab, I was pretty happy with the outcome. I can definitely relate to this post.
That's the nice thing about writing--nothing has to be permanent, we can always create a new file or delete stuff or go back to earlier versions. That helps in taking the plunge!


thanks for this post, Jennifer -- think "nervous" describes what I was about what I'm writing, yesterday (don't know if novel or series of essays, or just Me Talking)
-----------your post harmonized with what I was feeling / wondering / worrying...
Glad it was helpful! :-)
Thanks for this post, Jennifer. I always appreciate insight that helps confirm I'm not the only one. Yes, a little nervousness is a good thing. I'll do my best to remember this *bites nails*:-)
You are far from the only one! :-)
I love this quote! It makes me feel better about my anxiety and fear when it comes to writing.
Embrace the adrenaline. :-)
Thanks for the quote! I think it's applicable to so many creative pursuits. I've gotten that reaction of people being surprised that you're nervous as a singer as well as a writer.
I love that userpic!!
You are on a roll with these really gorgeous, thought-provoking writing posts. As I commented to Angela the other day, I believe you ought to put them together into a book of writing inspiration. Because it really is that already, just scattered throughout your posts.
Aw, thank you!
Can't remember who it was that said 'do something every day that scares you,' but it is good advice.
That quote finally makes sense! :-D
I was SO nervous about my signing party last weekend! Silly of me, really. The guests were all my friends. But you identified it for me (once again!) Yes, it's because I am passionate about my writing. I'm sharing it, and I want everyone to love it as much as I do. It's a nervous excitment, really. Gets your heart pumping in a good way.
Launch parties are the best! I'm glad you were able to enjoy it!!
Great quote. So true.
Thank you!
I saw this quote the other day too (I guess it's going around) and it struck me too... It had never clicked for me entirely before how nervousness is maybe a little necessary. I beat myself up for it sometimes because this is my career and sometimes I feel more like a jumpy little animal than a professional...
And I'll bet a surgeon gets nervous if he's performing a tricky or novel operation ... a lawyer gets nervous before she argues a court case ... and to some extent, it may keep us on our game.
You've explained this so perfectly, Jenn! As Kelly says, this is a post to add to a collection for future publication. It's exactly what we all need to hear. Thank you for expressing it so well.
Thank you!!


This quote relieves me!! I can know stop thinking that if I am nervous is that I am doing something wrong!
Thank you so much!
In a weird way, it may be a sign that you're doing something right!
Sorry the anonymous comment was mine i thought I was logged in!
Thak you again!!! I love this post!
Thanks. :-)
In a way, it's like the nerves you get before sitting an important test - if you don't get nervous in that situation, then something's wrong, and if the lack of nerves is because you're feeling either over-confident or too blasé, then that speaks volumes. Sometimes, you NEED those nerves and their accompanying rush of adrenalin to get you through.
It's amazing how much I've done in life that was fueled by nervous energy. ;-)
Nervousness in just the right dose can be a good thing. None of that "I'm think I'm going to wet myself" business. :)
Yeah, I draw the line at anxiety-induced incontinence.

Actually, I draw the line a little before that!
Wise move!
Thank you for this post! That is a great quote. It's so nice to know that I'm not alone.
Far from alone!