The Death Grip -- How I've Killed My Creativity
After thinking long and deeply about my stories, about why I never seemed to go anywhere above 2,000 words and brief excerpts, I've come to a shocking conclusion: I'm writing for all the wrong reasons. Now, let me be clear, I do take pleasure out of coming up with story ideas, characters, what-if scenarios; I get joy out of talking about the writing process but with my own personal writing? It's not from pure joy, but from pure fear. Fear of failure, fear of an unknown reality where I'm either a bitter old man in a retirement home/dying and knowing that I've never written anything. Fear of people -- people I've conjured up -- thinking I'm a failure and a liar because I don't write. That I'm disappointing them.
What's hilarious is that my private journals don't suffer as badly as my stories. There's no scare tactics; no guilt-tripping. There's no fear that I'm a failure if I don't produce a journal entry every single day. I can go months without an entry and I'm relatively OK with that. I'm more than perfectly OK with the fact that just about no one will read my journals. So why can't the same be said for my stories? Why can't I just write out the damned story?
Because of the death grip I've put on it for the last twelve years. All those years of worrying about whether or not it's original enough, worrying about whether or not someone else had used my story ideas. Authors -- with good intentions -- telling me through their blogs that it'd be a shame if I stopped or, to quote Holly Lisle, I would look back and remember a time when I had wings and could soar through the sky. It was never the desire to write because I wanted to write, because I had some smattering of an idea. It was out of fear of the invisible shame, fear of a future where I died a bitter old man because I never wrote anything.
I read how-to books that gave me a long-winded list of what to do and what not to do. The more I read, the more restrictions I imposed on my creativity. Don't write about elves in your fantasy, oh, that sci-fi idea? Too close to Star Trek, so scrap that. Why aren't you writing? Don't you love writing? You'll die a bitter old man if you don't. People will judge you poorly. It'd be a shame if you'd stop. Oh, you shared your characters and story ideas online? STUPID IDIOT! Now they'll never be published, you're a terrible person!!!
The death grip got tighter, and tighter, and tighter. It's gotten to the point where I just don't want to write anymore. I want to stop, but I'm driven to write for all the wrong reasons. I want to write, but don't know how to not write for the right reasons. I'm so wound up in the fear, the guilt-tripping, the invisible future shame of not writing that I'm basically frozen.
It's funny, something that started out so innocent. A random, neat idea I had after reading Prisoner of Askaban in middle school and <chuckles> I've created my own personal Askaban for myself where I'm both the prisoner and the warden.
I think what I'm trying to say is: I need to take a step back from this whole writing thing. Put it out of my mind for a few months -- a year, maybe. Figure out whether I truly, honestly want to write because I myself want to write. Not because someone else -- with good intentions -- scared me into writing by conjuring up horrible futures of me dying (of cancer, yeah thanks anxiety!) and knowing my stories would die with me.
So there you have it. My entire relationship with my stories in a nutshell. Darth Vader-styled Force Choking and no end to it.
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