Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Writing is Wonderfully Hard

So, how many of you are struggling with ideas? Me! Me! (Kermit flails in the air). Well, I may have a solution for you. Much like Wreck This Journal makes you step out of your comfort zone, so does The Writer's Idea Book by Jack Heffron. Only this deals more with writing and less with pouring coffee on your book. I see the intrinsic value of each, I am just all for trying out all the options. You can never have too many creative ideas right?

The purpose of this book is to help you come up with ideas through specific prompts. And there are hundreds that range from writing about your childhood toys to the most inspiring person in your life. But the point is to try and tap into your own personal wealth of experiences that you can draw on in your creative life. One of the very first prompts Mr. Heffron gives is to explore why you write and what is holding you back. Then he asks you to develop ways of removing these blocks. I have decided to answer this prompt because I feel like I am not the only that struggles with this. Here is my actual journal entry:

Writing is Wonderfully Hard

There I said it. Writing is hard. Which is why most people do not choose to put themselves into this career. It takes a special kind of person to torture themselves day in and day out for love of their art. But why is it so hard? I mean I have thousands of ideas, bits of dialog, interesting characters all floating around in my head. Why is it so difficult to sit down and write them down?

After extensive contemplation, I have come up with three theories on the reasons why writing is so difficult for me. These may not apply to everyone, but I think they pretty prevalent. And of course, as an incessant planner, I have developed plans to make writing easier.

Theory 1. I don't always listen to the needs of my body. Meaning, I don't or can't utilize the atmosphere where I work best. For me, I am most functional late morning and early afternoon, but with a toddler that doesn't nap, this isn't always possible. So, what happens is I don't write. Then I am mad at myself and promise to do better the next day, which the cycle usually starts over.

The other problem I have is that I am a binge writer. Meaning I let stories build and build (incessant planning again) until I physically cannot contain it. Then it sort of sprays all over the paper (or screen) in a messy kind of word-vomit. Which isn't always bad, but I am not always prepared for it and in that case I lose all motivation for the idea.

So how to solve this problem? Easy. Schedule regular writing sessions and show up. Ha! So much easier said than done. I do have a regular standing date with my desk chair every weekday from 9-4. I regularly stand him up, but my intentions are good. If only the road to published novels was paved with good intentions...

Theory 2. I deal with a ridiculous amount of writer's guilt (as Mr. Heffron calls it). This may have to do with the fact that I am female, but I think men deal with guilt too, just for different reasons. I feel guilty that I spend time writing when I could be doing activities with the child and husband, cleaning, cooking, working out, or any of the thousands of things left on my plate. And these things are important but so are dreams and ambitions.

Do I want to be the perfect wife, mother, daughter, friend, etc.? Of course, but I also equally want to be a writer. And this is where planning and execution needs to take precedence over my personal feelings. Meaning writing needs to happen whether I feel like it or not. Success does not just drop in your lap. So, in order to achieve success I (and probably you) need to answer this question daily: what am I doing today to reach my goals?

Theory 3. The final reason writing is hard for me is fear. Fear of failure, rejection, exposure, change and even possibly success, I don't know. But I do know it paralyzes me at times. It makes me doubt myself and my skills. It makes me unable to focus and unwilling to publish my material. And sometimes it even prevents me from finishing a project. Unfortunately, the unknown is a constant in this business, and if I want to work as a writer I need to accept fear as a companion.

The only conceivable way to get rid of fear is to work in spite of it. Work through it. Work with it. Fear can be a good thing by keeping writers humble and connected with their audience. Fear is also a commonly used theme and having experience with it can make your writing more authentic. But the point is fear should not be a deciding factor in whether or not you show up to your writing desk every day.

So, yeah. Writing is hard despite what non-writers may think. There is no way around it, except to write. Write when you are not feeling inspired. Write when you should be doing other things. And write even when you are afraid of the outcome. A successful writing career depends on the ability to challenge yourself to complete the manuscript even when the universe seems to be working against you. Hard work and sacrifice are expected in many other professions and writing is no exception. So, get somewhere comfortable and inspiring (even if it is in your own head) and get to work. Boom.

Catch ya later,

-Jami Lynn