In my last blog I talked about how I have been dealing with self hate and how that is something that is addressed in Victoria Nelson’s Book Writer’s Block and how to use it. Well there are a few other things that are addressed in the first chapter that in some ways I felt like I hit a veritable gold mine so to speak. In all the first chapter really spoke to me. As I said Victoria Nelson addressed that writer’s block can be a form of self preservation against your scathing inner critic but that is of course not the only form writer’s block can take.
When I first reading the chapter I hadn’t hit a point of self hate when it came to my writing but I discovered an issue with myself and my writing that was outlined in the book, which is taking yourself too seriously. I’m not talking about the whole idea of “I’m a writer and I’m going to sit down and write because that is what I am and that is my job” but more of looking and expecting too much of yourself as you write.
In a lot of ways your creative energies, your creative self is a lot like a child – I know in some ways it seems crazy but if you think about it, it makes sense. What is writing? Why do we do it? It’s a form of play. It is a way to enjoy things in life. I know for me the start of my writing career as it were was born out of play. I was always filled with ideas and thoughts and stories and a lot of those came out in my play, my Barbies would act out epic stories and tales, I would run around pretending to be a whole other person dressing up when I could, creating great worlds of adventure for myself and even pulling my friends into it where we would create and play out stories together. Then the spark hit me of if my friends and I have fun with and enjoy these stories surely others will too. That’s when I wanted to start sharing my stories but really it was all rooted in play.
Now as an adult, I have permission to still be a kid and pretend that odd little sounds things that happen to life isn’t a neighborhood cat or a bug but rather a fairy in hiding, or that the dark night outside hide lurking werewolves and other interesting creatures, because it is all what if’s for a potential novel. Writing is play, you create a world for characters and beings to live and grow and develop and you draw out things that will happen to them along the way.
With that in mind as a professional writer (published or not if your aim is publication you are a professional) we many times get caught up in the need to write and the push to make something wonderful. We want to make and half that next great novel many times yet the creative child in us doesn’t want to be all serious and worry if the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed the creative child wants freedom to create. So as Victoria Nelson puts it our ego which is what makes want to have that next great novel many times gets in the way and tries to force our creative nature to sit down work hard and go to Harvard when the creative child frowns at the idea of Harvard level work and just wants to take the crayons and color outside the line. When we are faced with this situation of ego versus creativity a block can happen. Thus as Victoria puts it, we have to give ourselves permission to play.
When I read that I realized that maybe it goes further than just permission to play in the sense of allowing my story to flow and not worrying about continuity so much in the first draft but also to allow my inner child the option play and not right. I was constantly finding myself wanting to play a video game but I kept telling myself no, I need to sit and write and I’d make myself sit there and I’d barely get anything done. Once I allowed myself a few days to play games and not write I found that writing has come easier. Some times our creative natures need a break and a chance to just play and not work. So I allow myself time for true play beyond writing if I want it rather than buckling down and going “I have to write” and I’ve found that the writing comes a whole lot easier.
Though there is more to Victoria’s book that I have yet to read at this point I think a good portion of writer’s block is looking inwardly instead of outwardly like a lot of writer’s block advise columns say and see what is going on in your heart when it comes to that little creative nature. As for me and my creativity we’re off to have some fun and hopefully a bit of writing later on!
So I have a confession to make. I have been dragging my feet on this blog post. As I dragged my feet I was blaming it on my indecision, something I’ve written about before but while that has played a part in the dragging of my feet is is not the root cause. The dragging of my feet for this blog post and many of my other creative adventures is something much more dark and insidious than indecision. It is one of the worst ruts that one can fall into as a writer, and that is self hate.
It is something I find myself struggling with on a come and go basis. Now I’m not meaning the self hate where I go off saying I’m a terrible miserable worthless person, or anything of the sort, but more along the lines of my writing. I find myself in ruts going ‘My writing is horrid,” “Who would like this idea?” “Why would anyone care? “All I write it crap,” “This isn’t even worth the effort.” I don’t hate myself as a person but clearly there are many times where I hate myself as a writer. I know as writers we are our own worst critic, but my critic can get rather vicious and become more of a flamer than a critic and it is hard to escape because it is me who is saying it.
So while this happens with writing there are times it is all I can do not to hit the delete key or crumple up the paper and throw the idea out. Of course that is when I’m lucky enough to set my fingers to typing or put pen to paper. Usually I sit around with a blank page and just stare and never write because anything I come up with is utter crap and not worth putting to paper. I was suffering that very issue for this blog. I have ideas. To me when I got them they were great ideas, I still think that the ideas I have are good and they are things I want to talk and write about but I kept finding myself sitting here thinking I’m not good enough to write about that which I want to write about or the idea may not be as worth while as a full blog like I had thought. I didn’t think I could truly write and truly give justice to what I wanted to say. I didn’t know how to approach things.
This is why I have settled to be honest with you and with myself and by recognizing that nasty inner demon and addressing it I am finally able to present to you one of the many ideas that I have had bumbling in my head for the past two weeks, and that is self hate. I know I’m not the only writer who hates on their own work and thinks their skills are far below what they actually are. I’m not saying I’m the next great American novelist, but I do feel that I might have something to offer to the world it is part of why I write I write to share my thoughts with the world so to speak but I also write for myself.
As Victoria Nelson puts it in her book Writer’s Block and How to use it we have to have a form of self-love to be able create and write because if we don’t we find ourselves in a state of self hate. Many times that is one of the places write’s block stems because natural instinct is self preservation and who wants to suffer the ‘writing blast’ of our own self criticism and hate? So in order to write you have to at least love the creative part of yourself and have the strength to keep the inner demons at bay. So while I love to write I have to regularly find the strength to fight off my inner demons, among other things, as writer’s block is far more complex than it being just one thing or being the same for every person.
Time is the ever present ever moving entity that surrounds you in life. It is something figurative and literal at once. It has a way of also being magical of moving faster than the speed of light or moving at such a rate that snails appear to be going at the speed of drivers in the Indy 500. This makes time your enemy and your friend.
Truth be told we all know this and we all know that there are lots and lots of phrases and ideologies in regards to time, that I won’t even start to list them all we all know the old adages, and really if you don’t, I have to ask, where have you been hiding?
Today, or rather this week is one instance in which time got away from me. I swear I woke up Monday paused briefly on Wednesday, thought ‘I need to think about a blog’ to blink and realize ‘wait, it’s Friday I need to write a blog’ I did I dutifully worked on a blog and tossed around several ideas but nothing worked. and before I knew it the day was done, and it wasn’t till Saturday morning as I dragged myself out of bed that I realized I would not get a chance to put my fingers to a keyboard to get a post up for the entire day. (This is what happened when you go to the Ren Faire and then play D&D directly after which leads to a late night gab session with your best friends and fellow writers at a local IHop.)
So quite literally time slipped away from me and I find myself sitting here bone tired and yet completely unable to track down the illusive thing that is know as sleep. (Easy to find when you don’t want it and never around when looking for it – much like a cat.) Considering that I have the time as sleep is ever elusive I figured I would get to a long over due and late blog post. So I do apologize for the late and quite possibly poor blog post you are faced with today.
While, in this instance, time had a way of blinking away from me, as I said before, it has a way of taking longer than I would like for it to pass. This usually happens when there is something I want and am looking forward to. I like to say that I am a patient person but honestly I’m only partially such. People needing time to think or do something – easy but giving me the much expected book, movie or event and I am crawling on the walls and salivating for said thing, and it is when time turns dark and does it’s evil thing where it can be out stripped by a passing garden snail. Either way, fast or slow, time rarely does what we expect or want it to do and right now it is eclipsing me and I don’t like it. Though of course once it slows down, I’ll probably be far from happy and want it to speed up.
It is what it is, so while time is reliable and consistent it rarely does what we expect or want it to do. Hopefully though I can adjust time will balance out and I will not be as late with my weekly post and I am this weekend.
As I write this weekly blog I am finding myself thinking about my writing all the more than I was before which is a very good thing and it makes me happy because it is helping to keep me on track. Of course while I’ll admit that I have been thinking on my writing more frequently I have very little to speak for it. Of course, with circumstances the way they have been in my life with the near death scare of my grandpa to the actual death of my grandpa I can be forgiven. Yet as I had little to do but think as I rode the 6+ hours to the funeral and 6+ hours back I thought about why else there has been little results for my writing aside from indecision and it struck me – I have writer’s block.
I recognize in my self a particular type of writer’s block which is when you are too worried about the quality of the work and getting out that next great novel and how things won’t be as good as what is already written or you aren’t good enough to write what you want to write. It’s a nasty little cycle that is part in parcel to being one’s own worst critic which I feel can be a whole blog entry in and of itself as any artist of most any variety can say that they are their own worst critic. Many authors don’t re-read their books because they will sit there and pick out what they could do different or better, many actors have said they hate watching themselves act. The list goes on.
Still with writer’s block there is a large plethora of books out there all advising on what writer’s block is and how to handle it. If you Google “How to overcome writer’s block” there is a myriad of links as well and a list right off the bat that includes things like “Take a walk” “Eliminate distractions” “Change the environment”. All of these things are well and good but writer’s block isn’t just about that, there is more to it than your physical environment and world though that does indeed factor in, it is also a matter of your mental state and standing.
This is why I feel like in a lot of ways I live and die by “Writer’s Block and How to Use it” by Victoria Nelson. It is an out of print book though there are copies once can find used on Amazon. It was a book I thank my lucky stars I picked up on a lark at a used book store for less than a dollar. I swear I bought if for about a 25-50 cents. Little did I know that day that I went home with a treasure of a book that has helped me through two separate writer’s blocks as it pin points a lot of familiar issues and helps point out the issues behind the writer’s block and how to hone the block to work for you rather than against you. I love this book and I wish I could properly express how amazing it is and how worthy of a buy it is for any writer who suffers from writer’s block. I feel it is of value to writer’s in general in my opinion.
Of course I will give fair warning that there are some things that Victoria says I don’t buy into but on the whole what she has to say is pretty solid. Over all seeing as it has been sometime since I last read and needed “Writer’s Block and How to Use it” I might take up the journey of not only re-reading it as I feel I need to go but going though it a chapter/section at a time on the blog. Not that every coming blog will be of the book – I like to spice things up after all but maybe it could be of some value to more than just me.
Today is a day that I have looked forward to more than Christmas I think and that is Free Comic Book day. A day that is amazing beyond all reckon at least was last year. Last year it was epic beyond all belief. It was a busy day where I got free comics and then some great deals on other comics. In addition there were door prizes and games and it was a geek girl heaven. They day drew to a close and I was already marking my calendar for the coming event and capping things off with a viewing of Avengers Age of Ultron.
In short today was met with extreme excitement to find it falling very short of what I was expecting. This year was far more subdued than in years past. No door prizes and no games. It was still a good day but it fell short to say the least. I arrived early I helped set things up a bit at my local shop – got a free t-shirt for my efforts and got to pre-peruse the free comic selection to determine what I really wanted of my limited count of 7 free comics. This year wasn’t hard as there wasn’t as much that was demanding my attention I picked 6 and got a free pack of Magic the Gathering Cards.
In addition to my free comics I snagged some good deals on comics and spent more money that I should have but at the same time I am happy with my take. I have a Rocket Raccoon comic which suffice to say he is my favorite Guardian of the Galaxy and the whole reason why I also got the second volume in the Guardian’s of the Galaxy comics – literally the comics are as amazing yet different from the movie. Last I have the first story in the Fables comics because really Big Bad Wolf? Yes please. I have a thing for werewolves (Seriously favorite literally character is Remus Lupin – gotta love a tortured soul.)
Anyway despite things being a bit flat this year I still had a good time because my friends and I went to see Age of Ultron which was a fantastic movie which I will not spoil for anyone though I would love to do a review of of it, because there is so much to say about it. I think half the day has been spent dissecting the movie and going over the favorite bits. Now I am sufficiently tired had a stack of comic books to read and a best friend to spend the day geeking out with over great movies and shows.
While this blog post isn’t too much about writing I figured it was worth posting because instead of writing I have spend the past week recharging and cleaning as it was my vacation week, but seriously no matter how much I love my craft and how much of a release it is – there is only so much a person can do before they need to recharge and not really write. As Steven King put it “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” So while I haven’t been reading much this week either I have been doing other things to allow myself to gather inspiration and build up my muses to start attacking the ideas that have percolated in my mind for far too long – though I might still take the time to read a bit more first.