Writers are masochinistic. It’s a fact. We have picked, hopefully through love and passion, a lonely job that means long hours banging our heads against keyboards and computers in order to finish a scene, get an idea, come up with an ending. We miss important events, parties, even bathroom breaks if necessary. We might work for years and never get the recognition we crave. Let alone get published. Still, if the love is there, you plug on ahead and hope fervently that this will all pay off.
Who would choose such a life? That is a question for the sages or lunatics, however you want to look at it. Being a writer means there’s an itch inside that you just can’t scratch any other way.
But there are those days when the blank page, silent keyboard and blinking cursor become taunting schoolyard bullies just daring you to try. You not only seek distractions, you invent new ones. Chocolate doesn’t help and if you’re like me, trying to lose weight, you don’t’ even have chocolate to soften the blow of utter and complete frustration.
How did it come to this? It used to be easy to sit down and just write on and on and on.
What happened to me?
Oh yes, I want from the phase of random writer to focused and driven. I learned more about my craft. I…gulp…shudder..became..a disciplined writer. Worse than that, I invested in myself and my writing.
And that upped the ante.
I used to revel in research, plod along in plot ideas, basically write little and talk a lot. The truth is, there are a lot of writers out there who are happier thinking, talking and researching a story than writing it. But for those who begin building a writing repertoire everything changes and there are going to be those times when it does not feel like an improvement.
If you become better at your craft, build your credentials and develop your skill, then it raises the stakes. Its not so much that the world expects more, they do, you expect more from yourself.
Some days it comes easy, but there will be days when it just won’t come at all. It’s difficult and uncomfortable. The itch has become a rash that irritates rather than stimulates.
I know this well. Yesterday, I just didn’t want to write anymore. I didn’t even want to think about writing. Doubts barged in like unwelcome visitors. I began to re-think everything about this whole writing gig. I’m sure this happens to a lot of writers, even the ones who claim on every talk show or interview that they always knew they were going to make it, blah, blah, blah. If you have talent, ambition and even guts, you automatically have doubts, fears and insecurity. So the doubting day is inevitable.
This is where the pen hits the page or the feet hit the highway.
There is a codicil to this, and an important one. The part where you think about what your life would be like without writing. The moment when you realize that writing is an integral part to your who you are.
For me, it was infinitely scarier, not to mention depressing, to think about a life without writing. The question you need to answer for yourself is, what do I want from writing? Does the love I have for it outweigh the frustration? Can I do something with very little hope of reward other than the satisfaction of reaching a deadline, or winning a contest? The most important question of all though is this. Can I live up to my own expectations and overcome the obstacle of my own fear of failure? If you can say yes to all of these, than on your doubting day, take a walk, watch a movie, just give yourself a break. Go to sleep and think of these words by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities
no doubt have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely
and with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with
your old nonsense.
This day is all that is
good and fair.
It is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on yesterdays.