Category Archives: Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Fear

I’m dipping my toes back into the writing world.  I’ve had to take a break, for a number of reasons (I talked a little about it in my Coffee Share this past weekend), but I know it’s time to start easing myself back into writing, of any form.

I’ve been thinking some about the kind of writing I do.  I have a deep interest in writing fiction, but the stories aren’t flowing as strongly as they once were. It’s probably a combination of things – my depression and anxiety have been running pretty rampant this year, and I’ve had a pretty full schedule between Jamberry work, my day-job, figuring out some health issues and social things. So my energy has been pretty drained, making it hard to muster up what I need to do my writing. There also is a distinct lack of “free time.” Not to mention I haven’t been reading as much (damn you, depression, making it so I am not able to really become engrossed in a book), which has traditionally been one of my fiction-writing-inspiration-points.

More and more, probably because of many of those same factors, I’ve been finding myself drawn to the idea of writing non-fiction. I have moments where I think that things I’m going through, things I have knowledge of, might be of interest to others.  But that instantly gets knocked down by fear (thanks anxiety). What if I don’t actually have something worth saying?  What if what I have to say isn’t of interest to anyone else?  What if… what if… what if…. And my writing ambitions get swallowed up by the fear that those things I have to say – some of them quite important to me and my life-journey -will be discredited and torn apart.  That someone will say that I’m wrong, and therefore, somehow, invalidate all that I think and feel on a topic.

It’s ridiculous, I know, but it’s a fear nonetheless.

When I’m writing fiction it’s easy (well, easier) to shrug things off if someone else doesn’t like what I’ve written.  “Not the target audience,” can be a wonderfully comforting phrase.  It’s also easier to separate from myself. While my fiction is certainly infused with my reality, drawing from what I ‘know,’ it is still something separate from myself. Non-fiction is much closer, at least the sort I’ve been thinking about writing, and so the risk factor becomes so much higher.

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Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Describing Characters

Ah, the wonders of camp. The sun has been shining, the birds have been singing, and I’ve been learning about caring for an impaired animal (more about that this weekend). Unfortunately, since it’s not a real camp, but Camp NaNo, these things have been happening around my normal work schedule. And the “camp” thing I’m supposed to be doing is writing – or, in my case, editing.

Spoiler Alert – it hasn’t been happening. Editing has been at a standstill.

Some of it has been lack of time and energy, but some of it has been because I keep catching up on an issue I know I need to address.

I don’t know what me characters look like.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I have clear pictures of a number of the characters, it’s just the main character, her immediate family and her significant other that I lack descriptions for. I have some theories as to why this is the case, but I know I have to just buckle down and figure out what they look like – otherwise it will be strange when I start describing other people. I’m just… really bad at describing people. Beyond skin color, hair color, eye color and some sort of distinguishing feature (like, if they walk with a limp, or have antlers growing out of their head or something). Describing the details of someone’s face, or things about them in a way that allows the reader to paint a picture of them is hard for me. Especially to do so in a subtle way.

I know I have to try it – just because I don’t pay much attention to character descriptions when I’m reading a story doesn’t mean it can’t be included (and, yes, I’m planning to spend some time in the next few days digging up books that I have and finding the character descriptions to read in order to see how other authors do it).

How do you go about describing characters?

 

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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.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Picking up old work.

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.

March: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

March’s question prompt once again fits perfectly with what I’ve been reflecting on lately.  You see, the story I’m working on right now is just that, a really old story that I pulled out and began to rework. Through all the revisions and writing over the past few years I haven’t actually done the truly hard work of reworking things that need to be fixed.  For instance, the beginning.

When I originally wrote this story it was a NaNo novel – so the first three pages are a story being told. When I first wrote this it had been the story, but I reached a point where I decided that I wanted to turn into a piece of the story and thus it became a moment of storytelling within the novel.

However, that meant that you spent the first three pages getting into one story, only to be yanked out and dropped into something else. And, while the story being told is relevant to the larger story, the relevance isn’t immediately apparent. Basically, I knew in the back of my head that I had to change that beginning, but I never could quite bring myself to do so.  I just loved the way it was written too much to cut it.

Not to mention the ongoing question that kept nibbling away at me. What if it really is the best piece of writing in the novel? What if it’s really important to show this whole story – if I cut it will it destroy what I’m setting up?  This concern expanded beyond the initial storytelling segment. The whole first chapter bounced between point-of-view without a care in the world. From one person’s thoughts to another — it’s told in third person so it’s pretty easy for me to slip and bounce about. Some of the things that came from that were beautiful, they made me smile and I really loved them… but it was awkward to read and hard to follow.

So, finally, I’ve revised. I’ve had enough distance (and heaven knows enough anxiety and uncertainty) about what I was going to do with those segments that I was able to look at them more objectively, take into account those things that I’d written and changed as the story progressed, and take the steps to make the changes that need to be made.

I don’t know if the changes are really the right ones. And I continue to face stalls as I let life derail me from my editing. But, slowly, I am taking steps to another draft.

Insecure Writer Support Group: How do I justify the time?

If you’ve been paying even the slightest amount of attention to my blog or social media presence, then you know that I’ve gotten involved with fighting up for what I believe my country should stand for. Which is pretty all-consuming right now – it feels like an endless fight. For those in it with me, you understand how I’m feeling at least in some way – otherwise it would be easy to turn things off for a while and step away. However, when it feels like we are on the verge of the destruction of our society (and not in a good – destroy those things that are wrong so that we can be a better place for everyone – way) stepping away for a moment is hard to do.

It is hard to feel like anything else is important. Including that novel I’ve been working on.  I started out January strong with the editing.  Slow, but strong; making much needed changes. And then Inauguration Day happened and my time seemed to no longer be my own. Suddenly there were phone calls to make, updates to write, postcards to create, and things to read (because I had – and continue to have – a lot to learn on a lot of issues that are at stake right now).

Now it feels self-indulgent to edit. I know it isn’t, I know it’s important work as well, but justifying the time for it is hard to do. Especially when my own self-doubts flare up and I start doubtingbthat it’s something anyone will want to read. I know I have to push through that – at the very least it’s important self-care to take time for my writing.

Art is important during hard times. Artists serve so many purposes, and their work can rally, lift up, and encourage. So it’s important that I take the time for my art it just… it can be hard to justify to myself.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: January 2017 Writing Goals, with uncertainty

Dang.. how is it already January?

What better way to start this year out than laying out some of my January Writing Goals – particularly, because it is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day, in terms of how I’m a bit unsure of myself as I approach them.

Goal 1) For the month of January only I’m going to aim to write at least 500 words every single day. Part of this is a challenge that I’m doing with a few friends (we all have projects we need to make progress on) and part is because I’ve decided to give the monthly writing challenge a try over on Twitter. I’m worried because, while I can pretty easily scribble out 500 words of something daily, I have a goal to make these 500 useful words. Blog posts, fiction writing or rewriting… I am looking to write 500 words of USABLE words a day. Some days this will be simple enough, but I am worried that I won’t be able to make it happen every single day of the month. And if I don’t, will I be able to allow myself to not just give up and throw the entire goal away?

Goal 2) Write more blog posts to contribute to other blog-sites (starting with Comparative Geeks, Part-Time Monster, and perhaps some for Hannah Reads Books, if she’ll have me. I’ve written for these guys before, am welcome to again, but I have to do two things to make it happen.  First, I need to figure out what I want to write for them. Then I need to follow through. I know I can do this, I put together blog posts here pretty regularly after all.  But as soon as I start writing for someone else’s blog, I start to overthink and over-analyze.  Will what I write be good enough for them?  Will they decide I’m a HORRIBLE WRITER and never let me submit anything ever again, and decide that they hate me for it? I mean, I know these aren’t all true (at least I hope not!) it doesn’t make it easier to shut that anxiety-ridden part of my brain off. Which means having to push through that to make the writing happen.  It’s impossible to be told your writing sucks if you don’t actually put it out there. Of course, then you also never get to say what you want to say and the ideas behind the posts never get shared.

Goal 3) Begin to work on the re-writes for The Novel I’ve had sitting on the shelf for far to long. I am feeling drawn to it again, and I desperately want to make the changes I know need to be made so that I can finally get some other eyes on it. I’m nervous about this, though, because it has been on the shelf for over a year.  What if I start in on it and realize that it’s a lost cause?  What if I put in all the work and let a few trusted friends read it, and they think it’s terrible?  Then what?  I know I have to push past these fears, put in the work and make the story what I know it can be… it’s just a hard thing to push myself back into after so long away!

As for the question of the month:

What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

This one is easy.

I started writing as an escape during the late Middle School years. By the time I took my first creative writing class (late High School), I’d already learned a lot of the writing basics through my own trial-and-error, and thanks to being a rather avid reader.  The problem was, somewhere before I even thought to consider myself a writer, I heard the rule: Write what you know.

I absolutely hate this “rule.” When taken literally it severely limits the writer, keeps you from being able to really embrace where your creativity wants to take you. I thought it meant that the only writing I could ever hope to do would deal with a girl like me. And a girl like me didn’t have a whole lot exciting to write about.  I later came to interpret it as meaning that I should dig through my own experiences to help inform my characters reactions and feelings. I draw on conversations I can actually imagine happening to help me write dialog (I’m rather proud of my dialog, I’ve been told by a few people over the years that my dialog is very “real,” in a good way. It’s one of those things I hold onto, for when the writing gets tough). I let “what I know” inform my writing – but I certainly don’t limit myself to writing experiences I have actually lived.  It took far longer than I like, but I finally gave myself permission to take these rules that don’t serve me and throw them right out the window.

 

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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.

IWSG – What I Write.. and where am I going?

Since last month’s  Insecure Writer’s Support Group post I’ve had a lot happen in my life and have seen my writing take an interesting turn. I still love to write fiction — and currently have a short-story I am editing for inclusion in an anthology — but I am finding much more of my writing lately to be of the non-fiction sort.  And I kind of love it.

I mean, I don’t love the reasons that I am doing so much non-fiction work, but I have found myself falling easily into writing about the political and social situations in the world right now. I’m being able to explore a few different kinds of writing that I enjoy – and it makes me feel more complete.

I haven’t had insecurities in my writing this past month – I think in large part because I feel like I’ve taken one of those stumbles again. Hit one of those moments that  should set you back, give you pause, but instead bring you a renewed sense of purpose and help ease you back onto the path you’re meant to be on.

I write and it feels RIGHT.

Which brings me, quite easily, to December’s question.

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

It’s such an important question – particularly as I am spending this month reflecting on a lot of things in regards to where I place my time, attention and energy.

I vowed, quite some time ago, that I wouldn’t allow myself to think about “where I’ll be in five years” (unless required to by a job interview), because every time I set down an idea or plan I end up finding myself twisting around to something completely different.

That said… five years from now I would like to be writing in a consistent manner – both fiction and non-fiction. I am working on my writing, trying to put into place some systems and self-expectations, to help move to a point where I can be working on a number of projects at once and be putting my voice out there more.


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Insecure Writer’s Support Group: NaNo Time

Well, it’s that time of the month again – Insecure Writer’s Support Group Time!

And, it’s that time of year – National Novel Writing Month.

I haven’t been much of a writer lately.  I don’t mean that in a “woe is me, I haven’t been able to write” way, more…. I recognize that I haven’t been making time for my writing, and I haven’t been making the time to refuel.

I made the decision to not participate in NaNo this year.  I love NaNo, I love the community around it, and I love the sense of urgency and extra push to write.  The extra excuse to dedicate more time to writing.

But this year… this year I just can’t.  Because I haven’t been much of a writer lately, and if I do NaNo I think it won’t help me get back to being a writer.  Not at this point in time.

All I have to do is look back over my IWSG posts for the year and the trends of the year is clear.  It’s all about waiting, being determined to push through, and then being determined to wait until I was really ready to start going again.

But really, I need to do some solid organizing.  I need to get myself in order, get myself organized.  I need to set myself up so that systems are in place so that I can actually make progress on projects.  Honestly, I need to decide which projects I am going to focus on so that I can actually make progress, rather than using one project to procrastinate on the other and never making any progress on anything.

So instead of writing, and focusing on getting out a bunch of words, I’m dedicating November (and December) to getting organized.  To finally figuring out structures and systems that will help me to actually progress.  2015 was an amazing year for me, writing wise.  I completed a novel draft, and discovered some very important edits that needed to be made.  But 2016 has felt like a long year of procrastination, wandering lost, and searching for some sort of answers about how to move forward.

I love to write.  It used to be that I would pick writing over pretty much any other form of entertainment.  But lately I’ve found myself not wanting to write, at a loss for ideas, and not being able to reconnect to the feeling of calm and sense of deep connection to something other that comes when I am in the middle or working on a story. See, I started out writing for myself, and in the process of trying to find a way to make my work able to be read by others I’ve lost some of that sense of writing for me.  And I need to regain that before I can hope to move forward.

So I sit this NaNo out in terms of writing, but am full in when it comes to trying to make writing progress — I’m going to organize with reckless abandon.

I just hope I’m making the right decision and can manage to find the systems I need to make 2017 a really powerful year for me.

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