The Unknown Versus the Ticking Clock: Using One Fear to Overcome Another


I’m there again. At the cliff’s edge. Paralyzed.

Because I do not outline or plan my novels before I draft them, I come to this place fairly often when I am writing. I race through my story until I no longer know what’s next, and then I skid to a halt, panting. I lean forward, looking over the cliff’s edge, into the blackness below my feet. Faced with the great unknown, I struggle not to panic.

I hate the unknown. It’s so closely related to uncertainty and change. I like to be comfortable, and it’s hard to relax when you don’t know what’s coming. Fear that I won’t be able to continue writing, that the abyss is the end of the line rather than a temporary darkness, paralyzes me and I procrastinate, doing anything to avoid writing. (Well, almost anything. Nothing except guests can get me to clean the house.)

It’s easy to put my dreams in the back seat, to make them wait, especially when I’m scared.

The only fear bigger than my fear of the unknown is the fear that I will not write the books that are in me. I have at least three books I want to see to completion and no drafts completed. I have to keep moving, keep working, keep writing, or they will never be done.

Every day, I get closer to dying, whether I write or not. That’s the thing. Death is the ultimate deadline. I only have the time I have.

I can use my fear that I won’t have enough time to help me get past my fear of the unknown. I’m racing the clock. I ask myself, “Did I write today?” The answer needs to be “yes” as often as possible, or my fear that I won’t have enough time will become a reality.

I take a deep breath. I remind myself that discipline is just remembering what I really want. And then I turn my mind to the writing at hand and stare down the unknown until I start to see the light in the darkness. I will discover the next pieces of my story and move into certainty, possibly even inspiration, as long as I keep writing.


Published by

Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

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