being my own road block

6 August 2012

Being a writer is not easy. I’m not sure why I ever had the notion that it would be. Maybe because it’s something I really enjoy–so I thought it should come naturally. But it’s been anything but the case.

I’ve been listening to a lot of The New Yorker: Fiction podcasts lately. And I wish I could remember which writer said this, might have been A.M. Homes, but she said that writing was a terribly difficult experience. It was the furthest thing from easy. I wanted to hug her.

I keep staring at my pencils and writing journal–the notebook I use for all my free writing and pretty much all of my creative writing. I keep staring at it, and the blank pages. The fact that most of what I’ve written lately are one or two line notes. I don’t think I’ve written a full story, or even attempt to start a story, since June. And it’s killing me.

I think I started drawing panda pictures just so I could pretend like I had a creative outlet and could ignore the fact that I wasn’t writing. Because how can you be a writer if you’re not actively writing? School starts in a month, and I just don’t want to be embarrassed by my lack of writing. And it’s just me that’s keeping myself from writing. I’m my own road block here.

But I feel like what I’m going through is not dissimilar from what other writers go through. Or anyone who has a creative passion. There’s a lot in there–so many stories to write–that right now they’re all bottlenecked and I’m basically taking any excuse not to write, not to go through what for me is mentally and emotionally draining process. It’s physically draining too. I get done writing something and I just want to nap and not use my brain for a while.

I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I know it’s something that I love doing. I just can’t get myself to buckle down and just write. The more I sit and look at my writing journal, the harder it gets.

Basically I just took 355 words to say: writing is freaking hard and I’m really struggling with it right now.

I see people like the wonderful Abby, who just self published two books, and think “why am I not doing this?” I know I have it in me. I just have to crack the shell and do it.

Please. Someone lock me in a room and don’t let me out until I write five stories.

  • If you haven’t written five stories, don’t even THINK of replying to this comment. 😉

    I believe in your Erini. All your talent is evidenced in this space on the Internet. Let yourself accomplish what you are capable of. Easier said than done, I know, but still. Doable.


    • Erini

      Aw, thanks Lorraine. 🙂 Going to wean myself back into it by keeping up with spec fiction–where it feels more obvious that I’m creating a world separate from reality.
      But thank you, really. 🙂

  • Morning pages. Daily free writes. Whatever you want to call them… Pick an arbitrary minimum number of pages that you have to write (something like 3 to 5 ) and/or a number of minutes that you’d like to write everything that comes to mind (like for 15-20 minutes). It’s a practice that helps clear out the cobwebs of the mind…. and since it’s a free write, nothing is wrong. Sometimes it’s fiction that comes out, sometimes it’s stuff that’s bothering me, sometimes it’s me being excited about something I’ve done… whatever… but it gets you into the practice of writing constantly so you don’t get all stuck.

    • Erini

      That’s one of the rules I have for my writing journal, which helps a lot. I can write crap, the goal is just to fill the notebook and see what’s useable later. But yeah, I need to set a certain amount of time each day or even like two hours once a week minimum or something. I’ve got to set some ground rules for myself!

  • “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. ” -Ernest Hemingway
    “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” -Joan Didion

    Completely feel you on writing being miserable. The best thing is to have someone help you be accountable. On the poetry end, a bunch of poets and I do the poem a day push. We have until midnight every day to email/forward each other the finished poem. Even if it’s crap, it’s done. You can edit it later.
    Sounds like you’re having a case of turning off your internal editor. I am just assuming because this was what happened to me when I was getting my MFA. I would write but then scrap pages upon pages because it wasn’t good enough. I would end up in a vicious cycle where I wouldn’t finish any work because none of it was good enough.
    Eventually I just started to write and think “fuck it. Done is better than perfect. I can always edit later.” It helped. A lot of it is routine, as others have commented. It’s a lot like working out. Once you get into a pattern, it’s easy to keep it.
    Personally, I try to restrict how much I talk about writing. I keep it at a minimum because I feel that the more I talk about my own writing, (like plot lines, story ideas or images), the less power they have. I still love to talk about writing and the process, but as for my writing? That’s just between myself and my own writing group (hell, my exes have complained that I never let them read my work–well, until well after we’ve broken up).
    But I’m rambling now. Hope this helped and know that you’ve got support! Just…don’t write another 50 Shades of Grey.


    • Erini

      I definitely enrolled in my writing program because I needed to be held accountable for actually writing. My first instructor did encourage me, but also understood it was my first quarter in school and let me slack a little. Won’t be the case next month with classes start up again. It’s just this summer break. I get so involved in everything else that I let my writing slide.
      I have no problem talking about the process of writing. It helps make this all feel real… but like you, I don’t really discuss the content of my writing unless it’s with my class.
      Oh. And no worries about me creating another 50 shades. Or well, if I ever did do that, it wouldn’t have my name attached to it.

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