Have you ever gotten that intense urge to clean house? No, I’m not talking about that casual “I’m going to load the dishes and pick up my junk.” I mean that brutal “I am going to tear this place down to the bare beams and put it in perfect order” type cleaning.
I get it occasionally. In fact, I got it today. This time, though, it was my blog that got an ax laid to it.
Okay, so this probably seems like a crazy move. What author possessed of any sense goes and blasts away most of the content from her blog?
Well, to be candid, I wasn’t happy with it. Whenever I blog, the tone of my articles generally feels stilted or artificial—no surprise. I’m reserved by nature and this blog is a public space. Anyone can view it. This, in turn, makes me cautious.
But in doing so, I feel myself losing my voice. I feel like I’m too guarded, like I’m not putting my heart into my writing. And what’s the point of typing all these words if they’re just that—words on a page?
I don’t want that. I know my words have power. I don’t know why they have power, but lots of people have told me so. My readers say so, as do friends and family I write letters to. But again, this all depends on my putting my heart into my work.
Which reminds me…
I couldn’t pay you to eat those, could I? (Hopefully I haven’t turned anyone’s stomach with that image. [Although, I suppose it might actually be a compliment. Aren’t writers all out to make an impact on their readers?])
That image popped into my head earlier while I was in church. Chocolate-covered pickles. Nobody eats those. It’d be absurd.
And that’s when it occurred to me how equally absurd it is to force yourself to write when you’re unhappy, tired, and discouraged.
Now there are plenty who argue that you should keep grinding away even you don’t feel good. Fair enough. We all have bad days when we don’t feel like going to work or fixing dinner for the family. Still, people press on.
Writing’s different, though. Yes, you can keep grinding. But when you’re at the point where you loathe it…
No. It doesn’t work.
Creative writing is not a job you do purely for money. Yes, money can be a reason you write, but if it’s somebody’s top reason or sole reason, I think there’s something wrong with them.
Writing, by its nature, demands that you give of yourself. It’s not about checking boxes off a “To Do” list (satisfying as it is to finish a chapter). It’s about the process of putting words down on paper. The words might not be brilliant, at first, but they are what matters, more so than the ideas in a way. After all, many people are bursting with ideas. Few, by comparison, make the effort to put those ideas down on paper to craft a story.
Hence my problem. I’ve been pushing myself to pick back up my writing and get a move on with Book 4, only to slowly realize that it’s not going to work. I just don’t have any gas in my tank right now.
Still, I feel like I must write. It’s my vocation, an intimate part of my being. Without writing, I just exist.
So, I’m thinking of turning my attention to other things. Blogging, for instance. Right now, I have a lot of different ideas for posts, and it will keep me writing.
I’m also thinking I need to try the advice given in Tell, Don’t Show!. Instead of “showing” on the first draft and putting in long descriptions (of the characters’ thoughts, the scenery, etc.), you go ahead and “tell” your whole book. Write down what happens in each scene. If the creative juices are flowing, great. Put down whatever you got. (For me, this would be dialogue. Dialogue is fun. :)) Else just state your ideas in plain speak and move on.
Darting down another tangent…
Partway through this article, I googled the book I mentioned above and went down a whole rabbit trail, getting lost reading articles on Writer’s Digest. It was kind of nice—there were lots of inspiring quotes besides good advice—and it put me in a more positive frame of mind. I also read plenty of wisdom from other authors that I realize runs contrary to or provides answers to things I’ve been writing about. Even with this article I’m tempted to think: “Well, what’s the point? My perspective’s shifted now. Maybe I should skip publishing this.”
It all reminds me of an example another author used about writers being like the princess in Tangled. One moment she’s running around, bursting with joy to be free from her tower. The next moment, she’s berating herself for being an awful daughter.
Yep, that’s writers for you.