The Struggle Is Real

I feel like I’ve used that saying a lot lately. If you’re a writer (or painter, musician, any type of creative person) you probably have too.

Because it’s true.

Yesterday I took to Twitter to ask my lovely Tweeples if people actually read blogs anymore. What I really wanted to know was should I blog?

Because if you haven’t already noticed, blogging isn’t something I’ve kept up with. The response was pretty much Do you want to blog? Honestly, I’m not sure.

Mostly I feel like …

a) I have nothing to say.

b) I’m talking to the void so why bother.

(But I guess if you’re reading this I’m talking to you, in which case THANK YOU for listening!)

Then my lovely friend Miranda (@PurpleQueenNL) said something that struck a chord.

Of course! Write about the struggle, because that’s real life, yo.  So here I am. Writing.

Confessions

I’m a writer who’s scared to write. Not scary scared but fearful scared.

Wow. That sounds ridiculous. Let me try again.

Every time I think about writing I’m filled with anxiety. Why? Here’s why:

  • I’m not good enough
  • No one cares what I write.
  • I’ll never get an agent/get published.
  • I’m wasting my time.
  • I’ll never reach my goals. Never.

… and so on, and so on, and so on.

Somewhere over that last 5 or so years I started writing “to get published” and “make this my career”. And do you know what happened? I stopped enjoying it and then I pretty much stopped writing.

Sorta.

I mean I spend an enormous amount of time and energy thinking about writing, researching and plotting. In addition to the countless hours I spend feeling guilting for not actually writing. In that sense I’m “writing” 24/7. If I spent as much time putting words to paper as I do stressing about putting words to paper (and letting it flow naturally), I’d probably have all 9 (Yes, 9!) of my novels completed and polished and querying agents.

Except I don’t do that. Because I’d rather beat myself up about how shit I am instead. Apparently.

When I’m not writing I’m berating myself for my lack of commitment, disciple, creativity, drive etc. And when I am writing I’m berating myself for how terrible I write and how “far behind I am” (compared to other writers, I guess?). I literally can’t win. I’ve made it a lose-lose situation.

Don’t write —> Stressed

Write —> Stressed

How messed up is that?

Now for the confession bit. In all honesty I am so damn afraid of not reaching my goals as a writer – that I’ll never live up to my own expectations – that I am paralyzed with fear to do anything. Better to not try than to try and fail. At least that’s what my traitorous brain keeps trying to tell me.

I know I am not alone in this thought pattern. I KNOW THIS. But that doesn’t stop my brain from telling me I am. So I stress about writing and not writing to the point I make myself sick. I’m a world class boxer and my only opponent is me and I am DAMN GOOD at beating myself up.

I feel alone and uninspired and tired. I feel old and useless and even though I know logically that none of that is true, it still runs through my mind every minute of every day. ALL THE TIME. Every day I feel like I’m failing a little bit more and I can’t figure out how to stop it. I’m my worst enemy. For real.

I miss writing because I enjoy it. I miss the freedom I used to feel when I sat down and let ideas flow without judging whether or not they are good enough or marketable. I miss not worrying about my odds of success or how it’s super unlikely I’ll be the next J.K. Rowling. I used to write because it was fun and I yearned to tell stories. I don’t feel that way anymore. It feels like a chore and that makes me so very sad.

Moving Forward

Maybe I need to relax and stop putting so much pressure on myself. Ha ha, okay maybe not maybe. More like YES STOP WORRYING AND RELAX, idiot. I know I need to find a way to get there, but right now I have no idea how. I’m tired, remember?

Today was one of those days when I needed to practise some self care. I went out and enjoyed the beautiful Spring day and filled my Instagram with a dozen or so InstaStories (Instastory?) and wrote these thoughts of mine in my notebook while sipping on a coffee by the frozen river.

 

And it helped.

So maybe I just blog and yell into the void because at least that is something. Maybe you’ll read this and see yourself in these words. Or maybe you won’t. Maybe you have your shit figured out and you can give me some advice. Maybe you’ll understand my brain a bit better. Maybe you won’t. Whatever.

The creative path isn’t straight forward and as my brilliant husband (For reals. He is brilliant. I’m not being sarcastic.) reminds me on an almost daily basis:

This is why people choose not to try. It takes effort. You have to keep trying and not give up. 

I won’t give up. I do this because I love it and in the end it’s worth it, right? Even if I forget that a million times. I’ve always chosen the more difficult path. I’m the black sheep who goes against the grain (there’s a bunch of cliches for ya). I’m driven and stubborn and one day I’ll figure out how to use those traits to my advantage.

Or maybe I already have.

Anyway, thank you for listening or reading. Whatever. I’ll try to make the next post less doom and gloom. Maybe. I can’t make any promises. But if you feel like leaving a comment I’d appreciate it. It’s always nice to know the void isn’t so … voidy.

 

 

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20 thoughts on “The Struggle Is Real

  1. I often think the more you get invested in your writing, the thicker the wall behind which the “fun” resides. If you’re just writing when and because you feel like it, the stakes are extremely low, and enjoyment is easy to come by. But when you start wrapping up your dreams, goals, and career into your writing, the stakes are much higher. It becomes serious business. And finding that flow takes more than it used to.

    I don’t have any advice here, but I do know that when I manage to let go of my worry and expectation about what will come from a writing session and just let myself do it, things get much easier.

    1. And ultimately that’s the most important thing … letting go of worry and expectation and letting yourself just do it. Thank you for commenting Daniel! It really means a lot to me.

  2. I like Twitter because it is a ‘void’ – because I can say stuff and hopefully no one gets hung up on it – or maybe just the thought that I have a place to speak without consequence makes me feel free! Anyway, the void is sometimes good.

    I can give you a shit ton of advice – majority of the post son my self-help blog (especially expectations), and I can recommend a shit ton books that will help you build self-esteem & change how you think, but you have to want to and you have to do the work to change it – that’s the tough bit. Journaling literally saves my life. I don’t do it every day, I do it when I feel the need – I also walk for the same reason. I just write everything out in my head, all the thoughts, questions, and often I find the solutions while I am writing it out.

    Writing is hard, and as Daniel said the more you make it more than a hobby, the more difficult it gets, it’s why I set up Mid-Week Flash, so I would write weekly. Because I don’t do it daily – well for NaNo maybe, but generally not.

    I have 3 novels (complete) in the wings. I have god knows how many first chapters of novels. I have fear of success rather than failure. The thought of the what next after that. But it is all down to your self-esteem and working on how to change that.

    I will link a few posts here that might make you at least feel you are not alone:

    https://findingyourcalm.blogspot.nl/2013/03/breaking-negative-internal-dialogue.html – breaking negative thoughts
    https://findingyourcalm.blogspot.nl/2015/03/pushing-through-fear.html – pushing through fear
    https://findingyourcalm.blogspot.nl/2015/01/reducing-expectations.html – reducing expectations

    And check out the recommended reading page on the site.

    You need to set up a mantra where you tell yourself you are enough and you are worth while. Daily mantra. And then the second you recognise that you are saying mean things to yourself, consciously shout stop (in your head or out loud). The more you do it, the more it becomes second nature. Don’t argue with those thoughts, don’t engage with them, just stop them and say something nice to yourself.

    Keep going Angie. I love your writing – and your art. xxx

    1. Thank you so much Miranda! I’ll definitely check out those links. And you’re right, I need to get my mantra going to stop the negative self talk. Thank you for commenting!

  3. Oh geez louise on a cracker. I can *so* relate to this. Fear has been my biggest stumbling block. I wish like hell I’d spent the last 25 years of my life writing, instead of focusing on my career. And worrying about being “good enough” or whatever. Think how much better I’d be if I’d been practicing my craft all this time!!!!

    It’s easy to say “don’t let fear stop you!” but it’s damn hard in practical terms.

    As for blogging, I too feel like I’m screaming into the void, but you know what? I do it for me. And I have faith maybe my words will help one other person. And even if they don’t, they’ve helped me, so there!

    1. I’m so happy to hear I’m not alone lol. Fear is a tricky beast and one I’m sure we will continue to fight. Success doesn’t remove it … sadly. But we keep moving forward, right? Let’s both scream into the void together! Thank you for commenting 🙂

  4. I recently had this sort of problem / crisis of faith. My solution was stop give up on the future of it, not the writing. So, I’m 8 chapters into my newest WIP, I’m posting them on Tablo as a free-to-read, and having a great time writing again.
    I can’t say it will work for everyone, but I know this is working for me. As a much wiser person than I once explained, “Worry is interest paid on a future loan you haven’t taken yet.”
    I’m glad you’re blogging again, and I hope you find you writer-joy again.

  5. Miranda is an amazing cheerleader and her flash fiction challenge always gives me that urge to want to write.
    Right now I’m rewriting an old wip, second in a trilogy, and loving it. I did the first last year and it’s been a rewrite where all I kept was the idea and bare bones. I think it’s kept my interest and passion because it’s a complete change from my other novels and I’m losing myself in this world. I don’t/can’t think of the end result at this stage so it’s still exciting.
    Strangely, to most, I love editing and revisions because it’s all about making something crap – good and then something good – better!
    I hope you can find your inspiration, Angie!

    1. Thank you, Lisa! That’s so great that you’re enjoying the process and good on you for loving the editing bit. That’s definitely a great love to have! Thanks so much for commenting 🙂

  6. Thank you for this…

    Long story very short, there are too many echoes of where I’m at with my writing, my artwork, and my music.

    In addition to the fact that that’s three very ambitious things at once. And I’ve been told that can be a bad thing, yet I already know none of them are optional for me.

    Time to relax into it and just get something going, I suppose.

    At least I’m slowly unjamming my own signal.

    Meanwhile, your signal is wonderful, and I’d be glad to see you write regularly again.

    1. You are SO welcome! It can be a challenge to juggle multiple passions – I’ve done that for years too. Eventually I burnt out from pushing too hard. Juggling is one thing but breaks are ESSENTIAL! Good luck on your journey and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

  7. Oh man, so much of this is familiar! My writing has slipped away for many of the reasons you state, and blogging does feel very “into the void” these days. I was excited to see a new post from you in my Feedly! Looking forward to more writerly thoughts…it’s coming at a good time as I ease back into some writing, if only for purposes of making my betas scream. Cos I’m a delight like that.

    1. I’m sorry to hear you’re in the same boat but hey! Company! Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting. I’m thinking of keeping this up since so many people seem to relate. Good luck with your return to writing. Go forth and make those betas scream lol!

  8. You need to read The Artists Way by Julia Cameron and do the work she says to do!!! And shut that annoying little voice in the head up once and for all! No matter what your art is, that book will change your life. It really changed my mindset and I look forward to what may come because of it. And please let me know what you thought of it. My dear friend suggested it to me and my job is to pay it forward to someone else. Best of luck to you!

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