When I was fifteen I had a crush on a boy. He happened to be my best friend at the time (I don’t make them easily). We spent a lot of time together including participating regularly at local rodeos. He was great with horses, where I felt—less than adequate. I remember one weekend we were driving to Sayer Oklahoma. It’s a long drive from where we grew up. We had a 23-year-old with us, who wanted to go so she could travel up there with her sister the next time we competed. (Yes, I agree that’s a lame excuse, and so did our parents.) But half way there we had to stop for gas, and my friend, and his mother insisted I sit between them the rest of the way. Why? Because my friend was a year younger than me and the woman in question kept trying to get cozy.
I obliged and bore the brunt of the woman’s considerable scorn. She insisted she sit in the middle. I stated I needed to see where we were going because it was likely the next year that I would have to drive us up there. After a few pointed remarks on our parts (of which our mothers were both snickering in the front seat) I was informed that I was a pessimist. I replied, “No, I’m just the dose of reality that you need.”
I bring this up because it wasn’t the first time over the years that it’s been brought to my attention that I’m either a pessimist or very negative— and ya know what? It’s true. Yes, I said it. It’s very true. Over the years, that statement I snapped back at the 23-year-old would be sicko still holds true, at least in my mind. When I think I’m being realistic about things it’s usually just my brain deciding that for whatever reason the situation is probably not going to go down like anyone involved hopes it will. Part of that is past experience, but mostly it’s my coping mechanism. It’s not a healthy one.
Often I feel like I’m a failure. I have this picture of myself that I strive to get to. Someone who's “with it”, meaning well put together, has their ducks in a nice little row and knows what she wants, or better yet just exactly how to get there. That’s not life. I know this, and yet I still feel bad every once in a while for not being that person. That’s not to say I don’t have most of my ducks in their nice little rows, it’s just easy to forget that when doubt sneaks up and smack you upside the head at 10PM on a Saturday night.
My way of coping with those feelings is to reach out to friends. Hopefully to try talking my way out of them, but often it results in my negativity leaching through the conversation. The horror doesn’t stop there. It’s hard NOT to be negative about a wide range of things. Sometimes, it even affects my creativity, but especially my writing.
I recently got back a form letter that said thanks for submitting to such and such, and we’ve announced the winners, better luck next year. This short was one of the better things I’ve written lately, but it wasn’t good enough, and the part that it wasn’t good enough is ok. I’m not upset. But what’s happened is that I’ve let myself get fixated on how I can make it better, instead of plotting, and actually writing, which isn’t good. So how do you break habits?
First, I believe you HAVE to acknowledge them. This is me doing that. I have a bad habit of being negative about my writing, and letting my negativity affect my creativity, and I realize I have to stop doing that. I have to keep working and let it go. It’s a stepping stone for becoming the best writer I can be, and nothing more.
Second, hold yourself accountable to your goals. If you feel like you’re letting your expectations of yourself, or what others expect from you down, stop. Realize that the only thing you're accountable for is not finishing or seeing through your goal. It doesn’t matter how you get there, or how long it takes you to get to that point in your journey, what matters is that you do get there.
I know it’s easier said than done, most things are—but I feel like it’s worth the effort to try. How do you cope with the parts of yourself that hinder your progress?
*Takes a huge breath before plowing ahead.*
It's no secret how much I hate the query letter by now. To say it's been the thorn in my side for the last three days, would be a vast understatement. By the end of yesterday, the score was query letter (6,000) Corbyn (0). To that end, I owe @BayView and @Tenderiser a huge debt. They helped put the dreaded query letter in perspective. I'm immensely grateful, if not for the help of both of you I'd still be floundering around with the initial draft, which was so horrible... just so horrible!
Anyway, why did I put so much effort into the thing when I don't even have a WIP to show for it? The query letter in question was part of a homework assignment of sorts, for one of my RL writing groups. Next Monday, we'll be doing a query letter workshop. Do I need that dreaded query letter? Not really. I'm more focused on trying to actually get my first draft finished. Did I need to do it right now? Yes.
I've been struggling with my plot for what seems like an eternity. I had a bunch of pieces, I knew I was missing smaller ones to make the picture whole, but I couldn't pinpoint them.
Having to actually walk through the plot with @Tenderiser put a good bit of it into perspective for me. So, for as much of a headache as the query letter is, I'll be writing more of them and far more frequently.
In May I entered a short story in my first ever contest. I must confess, I'm becoming more than a little antsy over it. I know I've done everything I can, and that getting antsy does me no good, but there it is.
I'm the kid who refused to touch the Christmas presents for fear I'd guess what was inside, or worse... want to open it so badly that it ruined the surprise all together. As an adult I don't get overly worked up over things, especially trips, at least not until the night before then I panic because of course, there are a million and one things to do before hand.
But now, the suspense is horrible. I think I've done a fairly decent job keeping a lid on it up to this point, but looking at the calendar and realizing that sometime between now and October 16th I'll either have done well in what could be a life-changing way, or not... it's nerve racking. It's hair splitting. I want to pace my desk and work my fingers down to the quick just to keep from looking at that damn calendar one more time.
What's worse, is the writing isn't happening right now. I think that's worse than the waiting by far. I feel like all my creative umph is just gone. I know technically it's not, but some days it feels that way. I've been reading everything I can get my hands on, and some things I'd never consider reading on a bet, just to replenish the words.
Perhaps all of this is just work related stress, finally rearing its head again. It seems like the times of year when I'm over stressed at work, my writing becomes scarce to nonexistent. Then again, maybe I just need more sleep, and a change... if I knew, I wouldn't be ranting about it!
I've been away from the forum for a while, and I shouldn't have been. I let one negative interaction with a member get to me, and I shouldn't have done that either. It's far too easy to let interactions with people color how you see yourself in a place, and how you share with everyone else there, and that's not ok. But I've realized the error of my ways and am back.
In keeping with the entry theme, I actually wanted to talk about what I've done lately to foster my writing, and how not being around the forum has affected my productivity for the better or worse.
First, I've kept up with my regular writing group, and we've taken steps to make it more successful for everyone involved, which I'm extremely excited about. I hope the group will become a thing that sticks around for the people in the community even if the rest of us are no longer there.
Second, I've reached out to other writers from a larger area. I've been lucky to receive a good bit of advice from people who've been stuck where I am, and I hope to be able to implement it moving forward. Because that's after all what I want, to be able to move forward with my writing.
Third, I took a mini (4 day) vacation. I took my sister (who also writes) and several other ladies on a weekend getaway into the New Mexico mountains. It was sorely needed and gave me the opportunity to foster my creativity in a way that I can't do at home. Plus we got to workshop a bit which is always great! Mostly, the mountains were healing for me, and already I find myself missing the mist blanketing the trees, and all the rain. I think I'd be happy to live there, and I'm not saying that just because I like to visit the area, but because some parts of Texas are like living in hell, and are soul-sapping.
Anyway, I could ramble on forever, and that's not really what anyone here is interested in. What activities have you partaken in to help bolster your writing?
As I've said before, I write because I want to tell stories that entertain people, but it's more than that, and not nearly that simple. I want to be able to tell stories that people can't wait to read. That's a long road to walk down. Especially when you battle your own demons all along the way.
I've written more in the last six months, and more consistently than I ever have before. Yet, I still feel like a fraud, like someone playing at being a writer, even though my platform building is going well enough, and I have followers out in the vastness of the webs. I still feel like a fake. I'm not sure that's ever going to go away.
I just finished a short story series and a standalone short story. The first is available for viewing, the second I submitted to a contest and am waiting to hear back on. I finished the first project only days ago, and I've been trying to think of what project I want to tackle next. That's where my self-doubt gets me into trouble.
You see every year since 2011 I've participated in Nanowrimo. I've only ever finished Nano once. That novel is a train wreck and then some. I'm not even sure where to start with revising it for use. It will take so much work it would be easier to attempt to rewrite the whole thing, and just use bits 'n pieces. I've thought about that, and honestly the plot is so weak that at this point it just needs to sit on a shelf and percolate. It was a good idea at the time, but will not a novel make.
That brings me to Tanglewood. I have strong feelings about Tanglewood. I feel like it could be a really good story. If I can get out of my own way long enough to write it. I think the scope and idea of Tanglewood is soo much bigger than me that it scares me, and that's why I haven't really tried to write it. Let me clarify, I mean that part of me is probably scared Tanglewood will wind up like my last fully completed first draft novel, and that would be so horrible that I think it's what's keeping me from diving into the writing. Have you ever had a story idea that's so juicy, so good, that you're dying to play in that world, only to find out that you're just not cool enough for that bus? That's how I feel about Tanglewood.
I know I'm getting in my own way, and I feel like I should be writing Tanglewood, I'm just not sure how to get out of my own head long enough to make it happen.
Separate names with a comma.