I already knew that I was my own worst critic, but recently I have realized how much I can get in my own way.
An upcoming deadline to submit a piece of writing is a great example, making me realize the layers of the challenge. I’ve known for a month that I wanted to write something for the Insecure Writers Support Group anthology. Yet, here I am at the edge of the deadline with nothing written, struggling to find an idea.
I’m not just struggling for an idea for the one project, but for any of my writing. The struggle is contagious, or perhaps just builds on itself. For the first time in months I am sitting down in front of my Work-in-Process and having NO ideas. Sure, I’ve struggled before with a character, found myself edging up self-set deadlines unsure if I’d make them. But this is different. This time it feels like all my ideas are hiding, running from me as fast as they can. It’s even spreading to my job — basic language to convey basic information that, on a normal day, would be simple for me to write becomes an all-consuming challenge.
The reason, I think, is the pressure I’ve started putting on myself. I see an opportunity, something that would be excellent (and so cool) to be a part of. Which means, of course, that whatever I put together for it would have to be AMAZING.
There it is.
My own version of “perfect.” I’m fine sweeping away the idea of perfection — I know that is something that can’t be achieved — but AMAZING…. that should be attainable.
But, what is amazing? It’s a high-bar to reach, and it means every single idea and every single word gets super-analyzed. It means NOTHING is good enough. Nothing is original enough, nothing will do.
As long as I hold myself to an expectation that is undefined, and unattainable, I set myself up to fail. Which then destroys my sense of being able to accomplish things, which feeds into over-analyzing all the writing and so on and so on. A vicious cycle.
Sometimes I have to just get out of my own way. I have to let go of this idea of “amazing.” I have to just write. No matter how stupid the idea might be, write it. Editing can happen later, but if I don’t get anything on the page I end up with nothing at all.
This time, though, I couldn’t quite get myself to put words on the page. Perhaps (hopefully) recognizing the challenge will help open the floodgates. Though I do find myself wondering how many times I need to be reminded that I have to get out of my own way before it starts to stick.
So this months post, basically, boils down to explaining why you won’t find an article by me in the Insecure Writers Support Group anthology (though when it is put together I most certainly will be spreading the word to everyone!)
I hope I can start pushing beyond that block. Stop holding myself to some huge “amazing” expectation, instead recognize that simply writing in the first place is pretty awesome.
[Edit: Thanks to all the support below, this post has been revised and submitted for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group anthology. Thank you all!]
This is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a great group of supportive writers, helping one another through our writing ups-and-downs.
There is also a great Facebook Community for more daily connection! More posts from the group are tagged on Twitter at #IWSG.