There is nothing more frustrating to a writer than not writing.
I should know. Out of my 49 years on this earth, I have written maybe less than 10% of that time, and probably even less than that. Writing came naturally to me at an early age. However, I did not have the nurturing, education, guidance or confidence to help me hone my craft until I was well into my adulthood. Most of this has occurred in the last several years in short, intermittent bursts of creativity, inspiration, confidence and a supportive environment I had built for myself.
That being said, I know what my obstacles are today. This is what I have concluded:
- Fear is my greatest enemy. When I let it, fear can hold me back and make me question everything I do. When I give into fears of inadequacy about being a writer, I block off that creative person within and I tell her the same things she was told as a child and as she grew up and became a mother and a wife, “You’re not good enough to do that.” This is the greatest lie.
- NOT writing anything is worse than writing something horrible. When I don’t write, I don’t give myself a chance to unlock the passion that burns inside of me. It trickles to a small flame but it has not gone out so far, so when I let it breathe it rages back to life and my writing takes flight. I MUST WRITE. This is no longer negotiable.
- Boundaries are important as a writer. I MUST tell my family and friends that my writing time is sacred. My space is also sacred. I have to be able to give myself time and a place to write without the intrusion of everyday life. People will generally keep talking to you. They will ask for help, seek advice, want to know where their favorite shirt is…did you wash it? They will call, text, and message you. What you have to do is love and respect yourself enough as a writer to tell them, “NOT NOW.” Put a sign up on your door. Tell your husband you’ve “Gone Writing” and turn off your phone. Tell your mom you will get back to her on Wednesday morning after you write for two hours or on your lunch break. They will get over it. When we take ourselves seriously as a writer, others will, too.
- Procrastination is just fear in action (or inaction). Send it packing. Set a routine. Get your writing space ready. Stick to it no matter what.
- Allow yourself some breathing room. Give yourself a reward for word counts and hours spent in the office. Go for a walk with your family. Watch a movie. Eat a favorite treat. When you’re done, get back to writing. Pace yourself but don’t allow anything to chip away at your writing time unless it’s urgent. You deserve to write and have the time and space to write.
I’m not an expert on writing or how to be a better writer, all I know is what I have learned works,and does not work, for me.
For those of you who are writing or wish to write, just do it. If you are participating in NaNoWriMo this year and you are afraid you won’t make the 50,000 word count in 30 days, think less about not meeting that goal and focus more on the fact that you’re participating, you’re actually writing and telling others you are taking yourself seriously. If there’s anything NaNoWriMo did for me last year, the first time I participated, is that it made me aware that and am in fact, a writer. When you realize this, you become aware of an even greater truth: all writers have to start somewhere and learn as they go. This is the transformational aspect of writing. It changes you. It alters you in ways you would never imagine. It gives you a compass and a starting point. You have to start writing to make this shift. There is no other way around it.
Good luck to all of you and write on!
October 19, 2015