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!

Baring My Writer’s Soul – Part 5

untitled (5)Allow me to preface today’s post with a nod to Heather Sellers’ book, Page After Page. As I mentioned in an earlier Baring My Writer’s Soul post, this is about blogging my experience. I truly hope you find something here that appeals to you; however, I strongly suggest that you do yourself the favor of reading Ms. Sellers’ book. Believe me when I say that you don’t want to miss one word of her valuable insight.

With that being said, the following lists are a writing exercise from Page After Page. The simple task jumpstarted my writing when I stalled due to resistance and, I recently discovered, boredom. (Boredom and Burnout: What To Do When Artistic Work Stops Being Fun by David J. Rogers) Even if it’s just a blog post, at least I’m productively writing.

The qualities of my ideal writing guidebook (what is covered):

  • Large, easily referenced grammar and punctuation section with examples
  • Daily writing exercises
  • Visual writing prompts
  • “How to” quality to the book, instructional without being preachy or stringent with rules
  • Info packed, fast paced

The qualities of my ideal writing class (what I learn):

  • How to write a query letter
  • Order of items in an e-mail to an agent, what is attached, what goes in the body of the e-mail
  • Standards of punctuation, grammar, when to italicize, underline, quote
  • How to write in deep POV (my most evil nemesis)
  • The art of good story telling (which I’m currently exploring in Steven James’ book, Story Trumps Structure)
  • How to write in the present tense when something occurred in the past
  • Writing a great first chapter (Again, Story Trumps Structure)
  • The best way to conduct research
  • Answer the question, “Does every story written these days have to follow an outline with nine-point structure, character arcs, pinches, plot points, etc., etc.?”

My best student-like qualities (who am I when I’m learning, my attitudes when I’m loving the act of learning, what do I look like, what do I wear, what do I have in the palm of my hand):

  • Detail oriented
  • Takes fabulous notes
  • Studies diligently, thoroughly
  • Combines book learning/reading with a hands-on experience, admittedly a bit more on the bookish end
  • Listens well
  • Questions endlessly because I like to get things right the first time
  • Loves to learn when it’s interesting, must apply more effort when it’s not
  • Wears casual clothing
  • Writes information (usually on a McDonald’s napkin unless I’m in a formal setting) but will use my laptop if the info comes fast (I type well!)
  • Enthusiastic, passionate
  • Loves to be hooked from the first moment of instruction

As expected with me, the completion of this task prompted more self-analysis leading to admissions and questions:

  • I discovered that I’m afraid to tell people I’m a writer because I believe if I don’t produce quickly, I’ll be viewed as a failure.
  • I feel pressured to publish soon, but I don’t want to crank out garbage.
  • Certain people I’ve engaged in life resent when I do something that they perceive as getting ahead of them, being more successful, so I downplay my achievements.
  • Other than the occasional, “That’s nice,” I don’t feel as if anyone supports my writing.
  • Money factors in to my writing heavily. I make very little working as a substitute at the library, and I feel the pressure to bring in a paycheck especially with the economy the way it is.
  • Is my writing a selfish hobby or a real career?
  • I don’t really feel as if I have a writing ally, no connectivity in the writing world or to another writer.
  • Have I started too late in life to make a go at writing?
  • What do I do when there is no money for writing classes, retreats, programs, conferences?

These are the thoughts that usually accompany me as I sit down to write. Unfortunately, they influence my writing habits. I know that most of them are ridiculous self-doubts, so when they arise, I remember to acknowledge them quickly, and then press on with my writing.

Write Happy!

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