Three Paradoxes Solved by Writing Novels by Freda Hansburg
Shrink Rapt was my first novel-writing effort, self-published before its new release in a revised edition, courtesy of Micro Publishing Media. Completing it took eight years, my most arduous and gratifying accomplishment. As a psychologist, I value life lessons, especially when they come in the form of paradox. Slogging through to the finish taught me three vital things.
Nobody likes hitting a wall, yet we all face clueless moments that seem to last forever. Writing my latest thriller, Suffer Little Children (now in press), I had only the vaguest idea of how my story would end until nearing the finish of the first draft. Practiced at being stuck, I trusted I’d figure it out, as long as I inched forward. Writer’s block is part of being an author. In its grip, you doubt your subject matter, your talent, yourself. The wall is your mortal enemy, proof that everything you achieved before was a fluke. The way out of being stuck? Befriend the wall. It wants to tell you something. Pass through it, and a door opens, allowing you to see new and creative solutions. The next wall won’t seem as high.
A roadblock isn’t a dead end, but a signal to find a new direction.Tweet
A detailed outline of my intended storyline serves as my scaffold for constructing novels. But as I write, my characters often demand to go off in directions I didn’t anticipate or reveal unexpected secrets about themselves. If I allow them to take the wheel, they can drive the story to intriguing new places. Even the best plans are enhanced by a dose of spontaneity. Bring your road map, but don’t pass up a scenic detour.
If I don’t admit something intimidates me – whether it’s starting a new chapter or driving to an unfamiliar place – I’ll avoid doing it. Avoidance and shame are two sides of a coin. Tell yourself you shouldn’t be afraid, and you’ll only feel ashamed that you are, leading to even more avoidance. Acknowledging fear makes us braver. Even a baby step forward – say, writing the first paragraph of the chapter – tames the task and builds confidence. Courage starts with cowardice.
Freda Hansburg is a psychologist and author of Tell on You, Winner of the 2020 Independent Press Award for Psychological Thriller, the 2019 New York City Big Book Award for Suspense and Thriller Finalist in the 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She is co-author of two self-help books, including the bestseller, PeopleSmart, translated into a dozen languages. Freda lives on Hilton Head Island, where she is working on her next suspense novel and her Pickleball game.