Sort of. Maybe. And I still can’t type they next sentence out without agonizing over how flaky it sounds, but here goes: My writing process has become all about fear. And, okay, fear is something I’ve come to expect, but lately things have been getting out of control.
When I have no ideas, I’m worrying about finding ideas. Once I get ideas, I’m worrying about whether they’re good ideas. While I'm trying to turn those ideas into stories, I worry about the sound of the sentences and the structure of the opening paragraph (and the paragraph after that and the paragraph after that). I worry about word counts. I worry about editing. I worry about every single time I’ve failed before and all the ways I could fail this time. I worry about what I should be writing. I worry about what I shouldn’t be writing. And at some point I finally realized that all I was really worrying about was the finished product. I’d stopped caring about the process of actually writing.
The thing is, whether the finished story is any good or not won’t matter if I was absolutely miserable the entire time I was creating it. It’s not that I shouldn’t work to make my stories as well-written as I can, but whether other people see them as quality literature or not isn’t up to me. And instead of beating myself up for all the stories that never quite took off, I should be glad that I somehow worked up the courage to try writing them at all.
I’m not sure how I’ll fix this. For now I’m trying to ease back into writing regularly (I haven’t had much time for that this semester) and trying to enjoy just putting words on the page. Thinking in terms of process instead of product pretty much goes against my entire nature, and I don’t think I’ll ever master it. At least I’m finally trying. I want to quit seeing writing as something I have to do and start seeing it as something I have the privilege of doing. I want to write joyfully. Otherwise, what’s the point?
(Also, I just looked back over some old posts and saw that I've complained about my fear of failure in at least every other post on writing I've ever published. I didn't plan on this becoming a running theme on my blog, but here we are.)
Picture via Pinterest.
Yikes, this hits home, especially lately. It's so, so easy to let fear take control; to let it take over your writing process until it's no longer a joy and more about trying not to get steamrolled by all the bad you think will happen. Worry and fear and anxiety take me over a lot and have definitely held me back. It takes a lot to be able to admit that to yourself, much less post about it publicly, so...sending chocolate your way. :)ReplyDelete
Thank you! :) I'm at a point where fear and anxiety seem like they've always been a part of my process, and it's hard to break out of the loop of constant worrying. Reminding myself that writing isn't the most important thing I'll ever do does help, though. It takes some of the pressure off and makes it easier to just enjoy the process.Delete
I know what you mean about process instead of product going against your nature. It's the same with me, and it's such a hard way to think because it's a way of thinking that affects all areas of one's life, not just writing.ReplyDelete
Also the privilege over work. I realized I was thinking that way lately too, but at the same time, sometimes you need to give writing the same importance as work because otherwise you never do it. Yet, the joy is important because, like you said, the end result isn't certain. You can only choose the way you get there. I read a quote somewhere that said you are the product of your writing time, not the book. Not sure who said that. Still, it's hard finding the balance between making sure you enjoy it and making sure it happens. Hopefully you are able to get back into writing and find the balance!
I'm so with you on how hard it is to find a balance--and I tend to swing much more in the direction of not doing it at all whenever things start getting tough. There's a point where you just have to gut through, but I think it helps, even then, to try to find some part of it that you can still enjoy. That's not always going to happen, but I think just going into a project with a more optimistic attitude can help. Thanks so much for commenting!Delete
Boy, do I hear you, Alex. Actually, the statements you made match not only my writing (which I'm not doing at the moment...) but they make a painful comparison to my current LIFE circumstances. Fear... Stupid fear. Rude and unwanted and hindering fear.ReplyDelete
But then, I guess that's where the mantra for "courage" comes in. I do think that we need to work at focusing on enjoying the process. I do think that there are times when taking a break is necessary. And then there's the doing it no matter the emotion, no matter the pushback of doubts and lies... At the moment I working to start trying, no, FIGHTING again. Because you don't find strength or confidence by waiting.
This is just me, though. YOU might need something completely different. Perhaps a challenge to write a few flashfic pieces that you aren't allowed to do anything with? but only to write what you love? I think that's where I'm going to start at my own "trying" again...
Fighting it is the hardest part, but the most rewarding, too. It's something I'm still working on, and probably always will be. Plus, recognizing that my feelings about a project aren't necessarily predictions, and they're also FAR from objective. Inspiration is great, and you do need it to start a project, but I'm tired of being so dependent on it.Delete
I'm so glad to hear that you're fighting in spite of all the fear and anxiety, and I know you can create wonderful stories and beautiful artwork. Best of luck. :)
I CAN SO RELATE TO THIS, ALEX. I've found myself pondering the same things and getting lost in this fear about writing...but I'm starting to learn that, for me, it roots back to comparison. NOT THAT I KNOW HOW TO STOP COMPARING MYSELF TO OTHERS BECAUSE I DON'T LOLOLOL. (And I really wish I did know how to stop.) But it's exactly what you said: "I want to quit seeing writing as something I have to do and start seeing it as something I have the privilege of doing." AND I NEEDED TO HEAR THIS TODAY. Because I think a lot of times I lose sight of why I'm doing something. BECAUSE IT BRINGS ME JOY. And without joy what is the point?? YOU NAILED IT, DUDE.ReplyDelete
Thank you for this <3
Ugh, comparison always does it for me. And inevitable it'll be a really ridiculous comparison, as in, "I can't write as well as J.K. Rowling, so I must be a terrible author and I'll never get published and I might as well burn all my stories now." As if the whole point of writing isn't writing something that sounds like you, not someone else.Delete