It’s Wednesday, time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.
Sit down to write what you have thought, and not to think about what you shall write. ~ William Cobbett
Does anyone else out there procrastinate before they sit down to write? I put it off to ridiculous extremes. I find myself suddenly scrubbing the floor or mowing the lawns or making meals, anything to avoid that moment of starting. Apparently, I’m not alone.
‘We step up to the blank page — this snowy tract that hasn’t earned even a single footprint across its virgin expanse — and the potential overwhelms us. Or, it has me, at least — once upon a time upon starting a new story I’d feel like I was standing drunk on the ledge of a skyscraper. Vertigo overwhelming as if even typing one letter would send me dropping down in that cavernous concrete abyss.’ ~ Chuck Wendig
This year, I’m working with two partners in critique. One of my critique peeps suggested I needed to round out the second point-of-view character, Ike Lee (pictured), as he was coming across as shallow, and therefore, unlikeable. Upon studying my chapters, I realized she was right and I hadn’t given away any clues to this character’s inner world.
The job, I realized, was to hack my way back through the jungle of the copy, remove chunks of deadwood and add new copy, giving physical clues, thoughts, feelings and realness.
This task has been the cause of my freeze-ups about returning to work. The book is already written. I’m in the editing stage, which is actually quite a lot of fun, though it requires sustained focus on detail for long periods of time. But, now the task at hand is to write whole new passages. Why does this instantly strike me with fear? Why do I doubt I can do it? I wrote the rest of the trilogy, for Pete’s sakes.
It means I waste time. I procrastinate. Though on the upside, the floor is sparkling and the lawns are tidy!
I think that part of the reason I waste time on self-doubt still, after all these years, is habit. I forget the wise words of William Cobbett, ‘Sit down to write what you have thought, and not to think about what you shall write.’ I try to recreate the wheel. I feel I have to move mountains. I have to make the impossible happen – write new copy!
How do we change the old mindset, touted so often, of ‘letting one’s forehead bleed onto the typewriter?’
We subscribe to the new voices of a new generation. We let a little light shine into the darkness.
Listen to this! I found across this great quote from Daniel Jose Older
What about those crucial moments before we put pen to paper? For me, writing always begins with self-forgiveness. I don’t sit down and rush headlong into the blank page. I make coffee. I put on a song I like. I drink the coffee, listen to the song. I don’t write. Beginning with forgiveness revolutionizes the writing process, returns it being to a journey of creativity rather than an exercise in self-flagellation. I forgive myself for not sitting down to write sooner, for taking yesterday off, for living my life. That shame? I release it. My body unclenches; a new lightness takes over once that burden has floated off. There is room, now, for story, idea, life. I put my hands on the keyboard and begin.
‘Writing always begins with self-forgiveness.’
This message is my new guiding light. Thank you, Daniel! I’ve been inspired by Mr. Older for years. In fact, I quoted him a few times on my original website. But the quote above was new to me. It has given me a whole new positive framework for my writing.
When we apply a positive approach, we become more upbeat in every area. When we’re relaxed and feeling good about ourselves, we can get into the right frame of mind to hear and respond to the creative thoughts which abound on the ether. Thus, creativity flows!
Do you procrastinate before you start? Do you have any tips to share?
Yvette K. Carol
“Do or do not. There is no try.” —Yoda