Fear and Loathing of the Writer Self

The writer “me” wrestles with fear and loathing. The analytical “me” tells the writer “me” he’s an idiot and shut up. Both have valid points; I ignore them and write. One word after another, “enter” button to the next paragraph, there we go . . . .

The accumulative “we” are plagued with doubts, thrashed by rejection, and harried by the many duties required to be writers in the modern world: write, edit, post, respond, research, follow, send, wait, research some more, wait some more, all the while writing every day and dripping sweat onto our keyboards.

Writing is a wonderful thing.

One person appreciates what you agonized over, so who cares that no-good editor sent you a form rejection? Place that rejection in your collection-of-rejection file, send the story to the next market on your list—that reader might be the one to give your life’s work credence. Hope: Keep it, Embrace it.

Write

Only you can tell the stories you have to tell. Oh, sure, learn the craft, study published authors, every day add new knowledge to your masterpiece. That’s how it should be.

Write

It’s as simple as that. Not quite, eh? What’s the problem? Time and responsibilities got you down? Does “What do I Write About” haunt you? Vow to never grow stagnant. Create something outside your field of interest, your genre, and experiment.

You see, it does not matter what you write, only that you do. Writing is what matters, and the prose can be anything other than a grocery list.  Butt in the seat, fingers on the keyboard, thoughts transcribed in front of you. The crux of writing is writing. Can I be any clearer?

I understand it’s infinitely easier to sit on the porch sipping lemon aide, dreaming of being a writer and going to book signings, being lauded as the next great novelist.

I once dreamed of playing guitar. I never owned one, didn’t practice, took no courses to learn music.

At one point I wanted to be an artist, but I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. I never practiced other than scratching out one-dimensional stick men.

Dreams, mists, nothing more.

Is that what writing is to you? I will be blunt: if that is your attitude, if washing your hair takes priority over ironing out a plot problem or further developing a character, you are not a fiction writer.

It’s okay to not be a writer, just as it’s okay to not be a chef.

For me, writing satisfies a yearning and passion—it nurtures my soul. It may not be for you, and that’s okay.

But if the passion boils in you, simmers in a constant stew of writing thoughts, discard the negative as you would an old toothbrush—no regrets. Then please, please reach out to the keyboard or pad of paper and write. Create your dreams, and then share them with the rest of us.

The fear and loathing may huddle in the shadows, but at least your dreams will be a tangible reality—nobody can take that away from you, and perhaps the next editor on your list will hoist your by-line for the world to see.

See you on the next page,

Rick

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The Only Writing Goal Needed For 2017

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Hundreds of blog posts preaching goal-setting methods for writers have appeared the last weeks. They expound many of the same things, the obvious old-hats we read every year. I wrote such a blog post at the end of 2015.

Many of the suggestions are sensible and will help, but they all miss (or glaze over) the one problem all writers share, beginners and professionals alike.

The problem often ignored is all in your mind.

There lay the subterfuge needling the will to write, punching holes in plot developments, and pushing over cardboard characters like props on a stage.

Writers wear three hats: creator, reader, editor.

The problem writers share is confusing the third hat (editor) with one that should have never been bought, and certainly not worn—the critic hat.

The critic is the voice in your head that tells you writing is a waste of time. The critic is a sneaky bastard, the master of clichés, whispering “that’s been done a hundred times” or “nobody wants to read what you have to say” or “you will never have the necessary skills.” In effect, the critic is a doubter, a wet-blanket, a party-pooper, a liar.

That is not to say you should not be critical of your writing. Taking a critical approach to your prose (word choice, sentence structure, plot, character, etc.) is an essential aspect when wearing the editor’s hat.

The difference between the two? The editor is analytical, the critic is emotional (with a heavy dose of negativity). Adopting the editor and denying the critic is a matter of changing your attitude.

The problem I vow to master in 2017 is Mind-Set. It will take effort, and quite a few reminders throughout the hours and days ahead while hunched over my keyboard.

I have hung on my study wall two reminders that I am a writer: a copy of The Accomplice, my published short story, and the acceptance letter.

Those are my reminders. Yours might be a favorite quote from a published author or simply the words I AM A WRITER above the monitor. Perhaps you are not quite so bold, so you have inspiration on a wall to your side, or maybe on a wall behind which forces you to swivel in your chair when attacked by doubt.

Be bold, and go where you have never gone before—place your inspiration where you can readily view it as a constant reminder of what you wish to become. What, no inspirational reminder? Find something and make it your own.

Repeat after me:

I am a Writer.

Because I am a writer, I write whether convenient or not, regardless of my mood.

My skills will improve if I write; whining about why I can’t write makes me a better whiner. Effort extended will make me better at what I spend my time doing. Better Writer or Better Whiner? I Decide.

Know this: you have the skills to succeed, and any problems or mistakes in your writing can be fixed. Now go write, and become what you are destined to be.

See you on the next page,

Rick