This month for Fiction Therapy, I answer a question from a member of the WU community, Al Rutgers.
Al is 63 years old and has been writing in starts and stops for 15 years. He says:
I’ve studied the craft of writing by taking some university writing courses, some online courses, and reading books and blogs about writing. My favourite way of studying writing is to write, in longhand, chapters of novels, stories or essays by writers I admire: John Steinbeck, Alice Munro, Joan Didion, Zadie Smith.
I know I am able to write as evidenced by winning four writing contests, but I am unable to write every day. In fact, I often don’t write for months and then suddenly have a flurry of writing.
I realize that this defeats my ability to hone my skills and I tend to beat myself up about it. I live in a state of guilt thinking that I am cheating my life by not knuckling down and committing to the craft.
One could argue that with every new story a writer is once again a beginner, faced with the task of having to learn all over again how to write. Knowing this though does not bolster my confidence. Do you have any motivational strategies that would push me over this hump?
This is an issue that affects many writers: that feeling of lacking the commitment to sit down and get the work done, if not every day, then certainly more than you currently do.
For some extra context, Al also suffers from chronic pain, something that I know many others in WU community also suffer. He writes:
Many writers in writing groups I’m involved in suffer from chronic health issues, and this inevitably leads to delays in their work. Chronic health issues and depression are common in many writers—think Dostoyevsky and Hemmingway. Admittedly some writers use these obstacles as motivations in their writing, but others, such as me, find they are roadblocks.
Here’s my advice to Al and anyone else confronted with the same issue. [Read more…]