Monday, September 30, 2013

Believing

Writer friends are good at asking, "How's the writing?" and truly caring about my answer. Even my non-writer friends ask about my writing occasionally, although they don't totally get the writing thing I do. It's fine that they don't get it because it's the asking that counts. But lately, when people ask about my writing, I struggle with an answer. Because I've been struggling to actually write. Struggling even wanting to write.

Just to be clear:
  • I don't have writer's block.
  • I'm working on a story I love.
  • I do have time to write (at least sometimes).

So, what's my problem? Why don't I want to write? Have I given up? Has my love of writing spiraled down some unseen toilet? Or is it something else? I even have answers to all these questions: I don't know what my problem is; I don't know why I don't want to write; I haven't given up; I do still love writing; and yes, it is something else.

That something else is this, I think: I stopped believing in my writing. Believing it's good enough. Believing others will want to read it. Believing I have stories worth telling. Believing anything will come of the stories I'm writing.

And you all know this is a dark place. A lonely place. A broken place. And I know all writers come here. Some come here many times.

And I know what to do about it. I do. I know I need to write. I need to write through this dark, lonely, broken place.

But will you please remind me?

28 comments:

  1. I can totally relate to what you're feeling. I don't really have the time to write much right now. And I'm so busy it's making me wonder if I care. Or if I've lost the drive. But when I sit down and write, I really like it. Yes, I agree. You just have to sit down and write. Breaks are good and inspiring though too. Maybe you just needed a little break.

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    1. Yes on the love when you do find the time to sit and write!

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  2. Oh man. I could have written this. Hugs to you and know you are not alone. Well :) you know you aren't. It really is a weird place to be. But you know I wonder sometimes if ther writing comes out in other ways while the story waits. This post that you just wrote being an example. But yeah, we need to just write on the story. Hang in there...thanks for reminding me.

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  3. I totally get what your saying. Just keep writing!!!! :)

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  4. I spent over a year when I couldn't write. I wanted to, but I just couldn't do it. I spent that year reading voraciously and discovered a belief that what I had to say was just as good and important as most of what I was reading. That helped me get back to it. I'm writing again, feeling good about it, and even made a small sale last week to High Five magazine. Try not to put pressure on yourself. You've had some tough times recently and you just need time to work through all that. You will come back to your writing when you're ready and will be better and stronger when you do. Sending encouraging thoughts.

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  5. I believe. I believe you're good enough. I believe people (myself included) want to read what you write. We all do end up in places like that at one time or another. But knowing others go through it doesn't make your feelings less valid. It's a hard place to be, and even though you know how, getting out isn't easy. You've had a rough year and dealt with some difficult things. Give yourself some time and space. Let yourself heal fully. Then there will be time to write. If you do feel like writing now, you don't have to limit yourself to the one story. Just do some SOC (stream of consciousness) writing. It will help. I promise.

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  6. Yup, I know that place. Recognizing where you are and knowing what you need to do to pull yourself out are just part of it. The hard part is DOING what will move you forward, whether it's giving yourself permission to take a short break or pushing through until you find your rhythm again. Wishing you all the best as you journey on, Barbara.

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  7. I've been there, too, particularly when the rejections are piling up. But you came to the right place for encouragement because we do understand. I'm sure you'll get out of the doldrums and back to enjoying your work. You can do it!

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  8. I'm very familiar with the place. My CP and betas have had to pull me out of it a few times. Don't know what I'd do without them.

    The best thing is to remember why you write--because you love it. Write for you and no one else, and you'll find that spark again.

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  9. I think that in those dry periods the ideas are simply percolating back in there somewhere. They will eventually surface. In the meantime rest in the season. You'll find your energy and the fun of it again one day :-) Wishing you the best...

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  10. This hits so closely to home. If your love is still there then push on through. I've found that that's all that matters. We will become better writers the more we do it and the belief might not ever be there fully but we do it for the love. Don't lose faith in yourself. You've got a lot of people here who believe in you and want to see you succeed. You are only doing this for you; don't forget that!

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  11. I've been there and quite recently too. I had a dry spell most of the summer. I was still writing, don't get me wrong, but I was doing everything in my power to avoid my newest novel. I wrote flash fiction. I wrote poetry. I read a great many books. I watched a lot of movies. And finally toward the end of summer, I came back to the novel I'd been avoiding and finally admitted I didn't like it very much. And I stopped believing in myself. I despaired of ever getting anywhere. I need to remind myself that a rough draft is supposed to be crappy. And that it WILL get better, if I just keep writing. So sure, I'll remind you. If you remind me! Hang in there, Barbara. I believe in you.

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  12. I know you'll get through it! Like you said, we all find ourselves there at sometime or another. You'll get back to the mountain top soon- just keep trudging and before you know it, you'll be skipping! ;)

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  13. Aw, so sorry you're in this dark place right now! :(

    I've gone through this too, though, as an artist. I gave up on art for a year or two since I just didn't believe in myself. I still don't believe in myself, honestly, but somehow I made myself work on art again. If I can find the will to draw, you can definitely find the will to write!

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  14. It sounds like you need a different perspective. I know that dark place, believe me. And usually when I find myself there, I step away and allow myself NOT to write. I think it's important. I think we put too much emphasis on it sometimes and try to force it. It's art, and art can't be forced. It needs to be romanced and cultivated. Take some more time off and do other things you love to rekindle that artistic spirit inside you. I've found afterwards, I'm chomping at the bit to get writing. New inspiration will come--just like that elusive butterfly of happiness that can't be caught, but comes and sits quietly on your shoulder when you're not paying attention.

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  15. Lady, where's your writing group? They're supposed to be rallying around you and lighting a bonfire and chanting your name! Okay, so I've been there--that discouraged place. When that happens, I read back over things I've written and loved in the past. All it takes is one spark to get moving again. Find something that sparks you, then let it bloom--and who cares if it's awful at first. It will get better. Maybe try a writing contest or blog hop that will motivate you. You will get there!

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  16. I'm right there with you, Barbara--every writer in the world is. Give yourself time and be patient. This will pass and you'll be back with ideas flowing directly from your head to the page. Oh, and read my Oct. 3 post. It might help.
    :-) I'm back from my much needed break. Great to connect here again.

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  17. Yes, I've been to that place many times! I think you have to remember that not everyone will love your stories, but we each have a gift that will reach someone! Maybe you can use that dark place to write a poignant piece :-)

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  18. We've all been there - many, many times. Here's my two cents: I love your writing, Barbara. I haven't read your MS, but I read and connect to your posts. I look forward to coming here. I look forward to what you have to say. You're smart, you're well read, you write with passion.... Keep writing. I hope to one day hold your hard cover (yes I love hard covers too) in my hands and get lost in your story.

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  19. Hi, Barbara, this was a moving post. I've been there, too. I think your solution is the only one, too. Just write through it. Sometimes switching to another genre helps, too. When I get a little mopey about my prospects, that seems to be when I turn to poetry.

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  20. You're doing the right thing, making your struggles known, and surrounding yourself with supportive people.. In a results-oriented society, self-belief is hard--especially when writing is so intrinsically linked to publication. That's why I sometimes break away and have fun with things I know are not--and never will be--aimed at publication. Silly stories that make only me laugh. Throwaway blog posts with imaginary dialogues with imaginary mafiosi. It takes the self-inflicted pressure off, and helps all the other words flow. And then I get to believe that I am funny, even if I'm not skillful. It helps.

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  21. You already know the answer. You've got to write through it. Finish it. Even if you're sure it's going to be awful. Finish it. It doesn't matter where you are in your writer's journey - this is true for all of us.

    One more time. Finish it. :0)

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  22. Yup, we all go there. I went through an 8-year period where I thought it would never go anywhere, and later, a 12-year period. I know so many, myself included, who have a second "desert experience" after a period of getting books published. For me, reading, reading, reading, and a recommitment to craft, is what helps. ((((Hugs))).

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  23. Oh, Barbara!!! I'm sorry I didn't get here sooner to comment! YOU CAN DO IT. YOU WILL DO IT. Yes. We've ALL been to that same place, it's a wonder we don't all bump into each other in the dark. But cuddle up with some good books and know that those authors have the same feelings too. And writing can only improve. So keep at it. I do not give you permission to quit, and we all know my word is law. LOL!

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  24. I've been there. Years ago I remember I barely wrote and barely submitted. It was a dark time. I was doing personal things and figuring stuff out, but I sure did miss writing despite the many years of rejection. You're a writer and you will get out of this funk.

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  25. Barbara, I feel your pain. Sometimes what works for me is just pledging to myself to work for 10 minutes on my writing. This makes me feel less overwhelmed, and often once I've gotten going, I often continue past the 10 minutes. Good luck. ( I really hate winter too, btw.)

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  26. I think this really got to me too! I thought naively it would all be so easy- and then I saw reality :( But it's an art right? I don't think the great artists ever painted a masterpiece the first time they picked up a brush right? You and I just need to keep trudging along and to keep believing in ourselves and the art of writing.

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