Baring My Writer’s Soul – Part 11

Commitment is a large part of the success we have for anything we do. This may sound obvious, but I state it yet again because we often forget this. And, as is the purpose of my Writer’s Soul series, I offer up myself as the example.

You may have noticed that I haven’t published a new blog post in a while, and I’ve been recycling some of my older posts. This is was an important step toward a commitment to my writing. How does this apply when I wasn’t writing anything new to post? Let me explain.

I have observed for some time now that I was more committed to maintaining my author platform via social media and watching my stats rise than I was to writing. I bought in to the belief that higher stats translated into success as a writer, and it was exciting to watch the numbers go up. If higher stats meant writing success, why did I have several unfinished short stories and pieces of flash fiction niggling at the back of my mind? Then there was the heavy load of guilt I experienced due to this lack of completion not to mention my growing sense of frustration.

Writer's Soul 11During this time, I was still reading Heather Seller’s book, Page After Page. It’s brilliant in its simplicity and translates well to other forms of art. Her words are so inspiring that I agreed with everything she wrote. So why wasn’t I getting anywhere with my writing?

The great thing about Page After Page is that it allows you to mentally rewind and review what you’ve read and learned. This is exactly what I did when I reread a couple chapters. Besides, I needed to regain my momentum and generate a little inspiration. I returned to chapter six, three chapters prior to where I left off reading.

The result was amazing and humbling. I picked up more useful information and re-familiarized myself with that which I remembered. I redid the exercises at the end of the chapters and felt my resistance begin to slip. Admittedly, this surprised me.

I pressed on and reread chapter seven. More aha moments were had especially when I realized that I hadn’t completed a ten-day exercise meant to jumpstart my writing. It was such an easy exercise, yet the fact that I didn’t finish brought up another round of whys.

My initial reaction was to claim that the exercise was so easy that it made it easy to dismiss. How arrogant of me! I took responsibility for my lack of action by placing markers in all of my books, saving all of my half written works, grabbing my pencil and paper, and sitting down to complete the writing exercise over the next ten days. In short, I committed.

Not surprisingly, my writer’s block and frustration lifted, my resistance melted, and my writing flourished. Go figure. By the act of simple ritual, I learned the valuable lesson of commitment. I also learned that being in agreement with what you read isn’t enough. You have to actually apply it to your writing. Or your chosen art form. Or your life.

But I was committed, a tiny portion of my mind insisted. No, I was a slave to the addiction of watching my stats rise on social media. And, while social media may be the way things are done today, I question how beneficial it is to the creation of art. Personally, I found it to be detrimental to the whole creative process. It may be a great marketing tool, but art requires a step away from the constant connectivity.

So, as fellow writer Lucy Flint is fond of saying, I extended myself some grace. I’m backing off from the hectic schedule I tried to maintain on social media to focus on my writing and reading. In slowing down, I am fulfilling my promise to myself and my readers that I will produce my very best.

Write Happy!

Baring My Writer’s Soul – Part 7

I’ve really been off my game for the past three weeks. Instead of being a sweetheart and manifesting itself as the lover in the center or the lover on the side, my writing became the school yard bully. (See Page After Page, Heather Sellers.) I could explain that sentence, but it would take way too long. Again, for your own benefit, read the book!

Facepalm GirlI want to write. I want to be published. So why did I let the process of writing terrify me into a near-catatonic state? Good question. The answer is that I treated my writing and/or writing time like an obligation rather than a reward. I ignored the clues that writing can be a scary and lonely process, I let it intimidate and frighten me, and I pushed it aside where it grew into a monster. Bad move on my part.

Writing should be enjoyable. I made the mistake of trying to force my writing life into an unrealistic schedule, treating it like a job. I don’t know about you, but I hate having to go to work. On the other hand, I love to sneak away with a friend to idle away the hours producing fun. It’s not that I don’t want to write; I don’t want my writing to feel like work.

Then I bored myself with writing projects that weren’t actual writing, and I put busy work first. Now don’t get me wrong; I balance my priorities, but I’m learning to do it in a way that allows them to walk hand and hand with my dreams. This way, everybody is happy including me.

There will be days when my writing takes front and center place in my life, but there will also be days when it sits patiently on the side waiting for me to return. And that’s okay because absence makes the heart grow fonder and the muse grow productive. Understanding this has returned me to the pleasure of writing.

Write Happy!

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