“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” — E.L. Doctorow
If someone told me as I first started writing about nine years ago that my writing would be a never ending journey, I’m not sure I would have set out on that particular path. Granted, most people start writing for a reason, which usually includes the buzzing of character voices and ideas that won’t shut up. That was my case, and even with that warning I probably wouldn’t have had a choice in the matter. I find writing to be the only way to get the voices to shut the hell up (yeah, that makes me sound pretty certifiable huh?). But it’s the idea of the never ending that might make most people bulk, though I have learned since then that never ending can be a good thing.
When I started writing, I didn’t even know how to put a decent sentence together. Of course back then, I thought I could do at least that much, but I was young, delusional, and a little stupid. I don’t even dare look back at my writing from the very beginning because I’d cringe way too much. It was embarrassing. Really it was.
One of the first pieces advice I received as a young writer (about eight or nine years ago now) from multiple sources (mostly from writing books and sage advice from published authors) was that to be successful at writing one must join a writing group. I was told writing groups would make me a better writer by giving me a place to talk and learn about writing as well as put me around other like-minded individuals for the support I needed to keep writing.
I took that advice to heart and joined a writers group two years after I began my cool hobby of writing, because I wanted to take my cool hobby to the next level.
It was the best decision of my life.
Until that defining moment of joining my first writing group, writing was a fancy. Something I did in my spare time. I had big ideas of being published, but it was a pie in the sky kind of thing. Joining a writing group made me realize that writing isn’t as romantic as I first thought. It’s lot of hard work (and a building of strict discipline and great effort), but work that had a hell of a pay off in the end (and I’m not talking about being published).
Through the help of my new writing friends, I learned that writing was not just something to do or some passing fancy for me, it was a way of life… my new way of life. And for two years, I went to every single writing meeting religiously (every other Saturday afternoon). And no sickness or excuse would keep me from going (okay, so if I was running a fever I wouldn’t go, but you get the idea).
Then I started getting restless. Something was wrong, very wrong and I didn’t know what it was. The meetings weren’t as fulfilling anymore and more times than not I would come home from a meeting totally frustrated, wondering why I’d wasted hours talking about writing and other things that had nothing to do with writing (because my writing group did love to get off topic a lot).
Procrastination plagues all writers at one time or another in the writing journey. It’s a barrier that must be broken through to be a writer, and separates the casual writer from the real writers. Procrastination a tricky beast that takes on the face of many problems like writer’s block, the missing muse, the “I don’t have time to write” excuse, or how about the “I can’t write, because I’m just not that good at it anyways.”
Say what!? That stuff isn’t procrastination. No. No. No. Those things are real problems. Really they are. Aren’t they?
It’s a week into November and the NaNoWriMo contest, or in my case the NaNoWriMo alternative challenge. Last week I was all ready to start writing and get the ball rolling, except when I actually sat down to write, I couldn’t come up with two coherent words to put together. This puzzled me for a bit, because I had done NaNo (the official contest) and other unofficial NaNo challenges with no problem. After a few hours of no progress, I hung up my spurs and decided to get something out of the day and spent a much needed time with the Hubbie. The rest of the week I reflected on why I had trouble and came to the conclusion that I had been so focused on other things that I was incapable of doing the challenge, so I had to make the decision of whether I would bail on the contest or continue.
I decided to keep trying and see where I go. I had to rearrange my head a bit to get myself into the contest mode. I spent this morning working on my story Fahrenheit and managed to get 1,370 words done in about an hour and a half, so I’m feeling a bit more confident about working on the story now. Once I got a few words on the page, the story seemed to flow out with a life of it’s own. It was really wonder and I felt like I was flying there for awhile.
I can’t wait to see where else this story will take me as I continue to write on it this months. This month is also an attempt for me to start reading and writing everyday. I haven’t picked up a book in months because I didn’t want the distraction it caused, but realized that my writing progress had become somewhat stalled by not reading. I have actually done pretty good at starting to read everyday and have even been writing a little everyday this month (just not on the story, I chose for the NaNo challenge).
As always the journey of writing has shown me once again how fluid yet concrete it can be. In reality it’s the mind and the state of mind that controls the reigns of where the horse and cart go. My hope is that I can control those reigns a little more as the month progresses. Wish me luck and the best of luck to all the rest out there who has taken up the torch of a challenge!
Have you ever felt that your talent is lacking or that all efforts you’ve made with writing have been wasted? Have you ever teetered on the edge of despair and felt like the chasm of defeat is just waiting to shallow you whole? I confess this is the most devastating part of being a writer and at times feel like it will be the end of all my creative genius. But instead of looking at these times as a curse it may help to view them as a catalyst for pure creativity. A beginning to something new. Destitution bears the fruit restitution. Consider this… that every down has an up and every up has a down and so on. It is an endless cycle that repeats over and over. It’s a cycle of creativity, productivity, success, and uncertainty that dives headlong into a total distrust of your abilities.
If you’ve reached bottom and are sure that you are a complete failure, have faith, because your circle is about ready to come round again. It’s our darkest hours that show us the measure of ourselves and give us the resolve to be better. It’s those times that makes the ups so damn good and gives us the creativity to do great things. Have faith that you are special and that you can be what you dream, because it’s that belief that will take you where you want to go.
Every trip around that circle only solidifies your purpose and makes it stronger. Yes, mistakes will be repeated and things will have to be relearned, but it’s that eventual accumulated knowledge which molds us into a bedrock for the future. So keep your chin up and welcome the never ending circle, because every passage along the circuit will bring you closer to being the best you can be.