Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The war in my mind

There’s a phenomenon that I don’t quite understand.
I was really pumped last weekend. No obligations, plans, or urgent to-do list. I decided early last week that I would “write like mad” on Saturday and Sunday. Treat it like a work day, except I’d be home writing.

Except I didn’t wake up excited. I felt a little nervous (and really overwhelmed), and talked myself into getting a few things done for a new business that I’m starting (which will hopefully allow me some freedom in the long term for more writing), and then I’d pursue my writing in the afternoon. It related to writing, I rationalized, but still, I wasn’t writing. Afternoon rolled around and I was stressed out by a website and Vistaprint and random other snags. I decided lunch would be a really good idea. How can I write if I’m not rejuvenated? Then I got a bit drowsy after lunch so I needed a cat nap. That’s just a sampling of how Saturday and Sunday went on. It got to be rather ridiculous. I talked myself into shoveling snow since it really should be done in case we get another storm, and there’s not a lot of time on weeknights for that. Shoveling snow!

By Sunday night I was disgusted with myself. Disappointed. Ashamed. Self doubt. I thought, maybe I’m not a writer. What sort of writer finds everything to do except write? I had been so excited about finally having a whole weekend to write. Everything was “perfect”. I finally had the time.

I’ve been a writer my whole life, but this is my first serious attempt at writing a novel. I’m a beginner novelist and I feel overwhelmed. So much to consider. Dynamics, background, setting, facts, plot lines, character development, and to put together a string of that many words and paragraphs that work well together and are inspiring, exciting, captivating? What if I can’t do it? I think I figured out my problem. Well there’s more than one when it comes to the fear that a writer battles. The war it wages within the mind. But my biggest underlying fear last weekend? What if I write a novel and then find out that I’m not good at it? What if I’ve deceived myself all these years into thinking I could write a good novel, but I can’t. THAT is my biggest fear. …So if I avoid writing it, I can keep living that dream of “hey I bet can write a novel!” and then never get the opportunity to prove myself wrong. But then I realized, if I never attempt it, I also lose. If I never confront the fear, never just go ahead and do it, I also lose.

Finally, late Sunday night, I sat and wrote for forty five minutes. I don’t know what the magic trick was. Only change was that my husband came home from being out of town and I liked his company. So maybe a quiet house with tons of time isn’t the “perfect” setting. I don’t know.

I also had one of those flashes of insight. A simple thought, but it was what I needed. I spend so much time and effort with every word and sentence being “good enough”, that the whole process loses its charm. The simple thought? “Just tell the story” Tell it horribly, tell it however you want, but at least tell it. So that’s my mantra right now. “Just tell the story.”

5 comments:

Patricia Kiyono said...

Don't be too disappointed in yourself. At least you sat down and got 45 minutes of writing done! But you're right. Just tell the story. Worry about editing later. You can't edit what hasn't been written. Go, girl!

Cheryl said...

You're ripe for Winter NaNo. Don't think, just write. Give power to the vomit draft. Throw up all over the page and clean it up later.
I write more when I have less time to write, as odd as that seems.

J.C. Hanks said...

That's how I write, I just write what my characters tell me too. It can be edited later. Just get the story down on paper.

My problem is I already have 4 characters with series, and now some of the more "minor" characters int hose series want their own books.

So I can relate to the overwhelmed part...and I'm still unpublished. :)

T L Doezema said...

thanks ladies!

Tess Grant said...

What sort of writer finds everything to do except write? Most of us! You're not alone. Just put down what you can and worry about it later.