On Caring for My Inner Writer

Like I’ve said before, this month is pretty busy for me – thus, I can only write for this blog about once or twice a week.  That isn’t to say that I haven’t been writing – I’ve been working hard creating content at my copywriting job (the details of which I cannot divulge, on pain of death), and most of my personal writing (the poem rewrites and the ever-changing Apocalypse short story) ended up in a small-ish notebook with a green, black, yellow and gold cover.  Mostly written in gel pens of varying colors because I freaking love gel pens.

That being said, I’m also not going to lie:  I’m letting writer’s block get the better of me.  Every time I hit a dead end in my writing or revisions, I deal with it by either playing Okamiden on my Nintendo DS (I tell myself it inspires me, when all it really does is make me want to swear at drums) or reading random links on my social networks, which turn out to be major time sinks (like Text from Dog; care of Ms. Jeri Ryan, a famous actress I adore).  In other words, my productivity is completely shot.  And that’s bad if I really want to post a decent revision of that poem on this blog and submit that Apocalypse story by the end of the month.

Thankfully, I ran across some good reading that can help me take care of myself.  It’s this old post on the Timothy McSweeney site about how one should care for and train one’s very own writer.

It’s a little tongue in cheek, of course, and it’s actually addressed to the people around me (I should probably get my mother to read that), but I’d like to think I can apply the following to myself so I can get past this writer’s block that I probably led myself to:

On preparing the home for a writer

“Keep in mind that your writer may not write right away. Never shout at your writer. If your writer is frightened, he or she may run.”  So yeah, I will try to keep myself from becoming frustrated at my own inaction.  Maybe that can get me to work more.

On what to expect of a writer

“By mistaking research for leisure activity, well-meaning but inexperienced caregivers often disrupt critical chains of reasoning.”  I really should stop questioning whether it’s right to ogle Nathan Fillion on TV when I really should be thinking of ideas for my story and my poem.  After all, he can be the inspiration for my protagoni-HEY!  That’s a great idea!  Thank you, Mr. Fillion, for being so gorgeous and geeky (most awesome space cowboy EVER).

On the presence of babies

“Never leave the writer alone with the baby. Ever.”  While that article suggests that a writer will become jealous of a new member of the group, I only find this applicable because the babies in my life are adorably distracting and leave me in a mindless stupor for hours afterwards.  Yes, I know you that all people say that their infant relatives are the most adorable.  But I think my nephews are going to sublimate you into a hazy lavender glow the moment they smile at you.  At the same time.

With these thoughts as part of my arsenal, I hope to find more success in finishing the personal work I had set out to do (even as I’m making a dent on the workload at my job).  What are the things that YOU guys do to care for your inner writer?  Drop me a line. 🙂

Anti-Writing Excuses That Shouldn’t Work for Me (But Do)

A few days ago, I bookmarked a link I found on Twitter (I forget who was responsible for it, but I’m really grateful) and completely forgot to click it again until today.  The link leads you to this Terrible Minds list of lies writers tell themselves.

Needless to say, I’m currently reeling with guilt from the contents of that list.  A lot of the stuff written there were excuses I used to let myself off the hook from writing something for myself (either on this blog or in that short story I’m supposed to be writing).  For example:

“I Don’t Have Time!”

Yep.  That’s one of my favorites, because it’s so easy to believe.  Between my job and the stuff I need to do at home, how am I supposed to squeeze this writing thing in?

Well…the answer is apparently “You HAVE to make time to write things for yourself.”  It’s a simple answer, but one that I’m not entirely comfortable with just yet.

“It’s Okay That I Didn’t Write Today, I’ll Do It Tomorrow!”

This is related to that first thing.  If I thought I didn’t have time to work on something for that day, I often try to tell myself that I’ll have enough time tomorrow.

And it usually ends very, very badly for me.

“Oh Noes, Writer’s Block Again!”

Yyyeeeaaaah, I’m pretty sure I’ve done this ON THIS BLOG.  (I think I’ve begun a number of posts with something to the effect of “I don’t know what to write today”).

Note to self:  you do know what to write, because you have a DAMNED NOTEBOOK FULL OF POST IDEAS.  Granted, not all of them are good ideas, but they can at least be tweaked.

“This Draft Needs to be Perfect!”

Because really, how embarrassing will it be for SOMEONE ELSE to read this thing?  There are so many things wrong with what I’ve just written here that I might as well throw it all away and cry in a shadowy little corner where no one has to see me and pity my pathetic writing skills.

While I generally don’t have this problem with the stuff I write for work (because the instructions and expectations are so clear!), this happens again and again whenever I try to write something for myself.  Yeah, I know.  It doesn’t look like it, does it?  But here’s a little secret:  I schedule these posts; I write some days and write nada in others in favor of writer‘s angst.  Seriously, I agonize over them for hours, and tinker until WordPress says “ENOUGH” and posts them automatically.

“I Suck Moist Open Ass”

This is the crux of my problem.  I’m sure a lot of other writers out there have the same opinion of themselves no matter how good they happen to be.  I just happen to think I suck more than any one of them, no matter how irrational that thought is.  This is why I put off writing and throw away about 90% of my drafts.  This is why I didn’t seriously write for myself at all for years.  This is why I was willing to give at the first sign of criticism from anyone, no matter how well-meaning.

This is why, despite my supposed credentials (as my sister would occasionally enumerate them), I’m so damned afraid.

The thing is, all these excuses really aren’t healthy if I really want to make something out of the stories and poems and songs in my head.  I can’t let fear get the better of me when it comes to this kind of thing.  Besides, if a lobsterman who couldn’t read a word until he’s in his 90’s can become an author, then all my arguments against writing anything TODAY (on the blog or otherwise) are pretty much invalid.

With that in mind, I’m putting this right here:

A Man Prancing In Front of a Bear
Yeah, this will TOTALLY help me write.

What about you guys?  Do you have excuses for NOT writing?