WU is not a blog on which I expect to find upsetting posts. However, I was upset upon reading Julia Munroe Martin’s recent post Confessions from a Weary Writer. Julia’s raw account of discouragement got to me. It has stayed with me. No writer should feel that pain. I understand it, yet I wanted to hug. To help. Is there help? I hope so.
Julia reports having lost the joy in writing. She feels a fraud and fears never being traditionally published. She’s been up to bat a few times and struck out. She hasn’t quit, though. (Hooray!) To nurture herself she practices kindness to herself, mindfulness and acceptance of her fears. Just thinking is okay. She draws positive friends close and pushes away social media. All smart and effective ways to tend to oneself when writing is hard.
Except. It isn’t the writing that has led to discouragement, but the results. (So far.) Slamming into the thick outer wall of the industry fortress is enough to clobber anybody’s spirits, and that in turn can sap the joy juice out of the creative process. I get it. I do. Yet the writing itself did not start out that way. For most, in the beginning writing fiction is fun. It’s a process overflowing with potential, a visit to a land of enchantment, a shoulder tap with a magic sword conferring storytelling power. The story itself is real, happening somewhere apart from the kitchen table, its people fully formed and alive, all one must do is dream their dream and capture it in words.
Stories don’t get discouraged, only writers do.
Which makes me think that another avenue of help for discouragement may be not on the yoga mat but in realizing that even when you are down, a story and its world are always up and running. A story doesn’t care how you feel. It doesn’t have time for that. It’s too busy. Stuck? Your characters are not stuck. Your story world is not static. Why are you not having fun? Your story world is an amusement park. Roller coasters. Haunted houses. Tunnels of love. People there are having a great time, screaming in terror or making out in the dark.
Your story world is also a place of beauty. It’s a world in which words gush like mountain streams during spring thaw. There are slow-motion sunrises and blazing sunsets. People are kind—or cruel. Rusting red trucks on cinder blocks in backyards dream of old adventures. A secret is holding its breath beneath the surface of the lake. Someone is going to change. Something malign is going to die.
In a way, regaining the joy in writing is nothing more complicated than getting out of your own life and taking a vacation in the world of your story. That’s not so hard. It only takes ten deep breaths. It’s as simple as a walk down to the harbor. It may not seem that there is time for that. If you feel so, let me ask you this: Is there anything more important to do with the next two minutes than to nurture your soul and dream your story’s dream? [Read more…]