Here’s a complete list of things that would totally make me stop writing.
- The end of the world.
- The ending of my life.
- The loss of my mental faculties.
I remember every time I have not made writing a priority in my life, I have suffered and I have become less of a human being.
My life feels meaningless without the everyday godlike act of creation: the placing of a pen in my hand; the pressing of said pen to what used to be a tree; the making of ink marks on the page (with a point) to form letter shapes, words, and sentences ; the proof of my life, an affirmation of my existence, a return to humanity.
Scribo ergo sum.(I write, therefore I am.)
This profound act of writing defines who I am. I cease to exist if I stop writing. I write therefore I am!
My body expresses my physicality, my voice let’s the world hear my sound, and the words tumbling out of my mind express my evolving inner self. I am a human body, but I am also a body of words.
Today, Tammy L. Breitweiser introduced me to an inspirational website called The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Their goal is not only to share and to encourage writers, but also to provide a place for writers to express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Other writers are encouraged to offer assistance and guidance based on their own lived experiences. Alex J. Cavanaugh’s The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a safe haven for insecure writers of all levels. The co-hosts for this July 7th posting are Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue.
My writing struggles this past year have basically revolved around the writing of the first draft of my novel. I wrote a proposal for an exciting short story, which I submitted to a publisher. It was accepted on May 24th, 2020. But when I started to write it, I could feel it wanted to be much more than a short story. I tried many different outlining methods to find the best structure for the novel. I did a ton of research and prep work, and my writing stalled.
Looking back, I know I wasn’t confident enough. I didn’t believe that my ability to write was good enough to do the novel justice. I felt like a fraud and a fake, like a writer only pretending to write.
Every month or so I would look over my notes, my plans, my outlines, my research, my many exploratory scenes, and feel completely overwhelmed by the weight of these words. Writing a novel is an impossible task! I dreaded sitting down to write, knowing I had to wade through so much material each time. Writing felt heavy. Writing felt complicated. And it definitely wasn’t fun.
I was lost in the forest of words, without an ax to clear a path or a map to navigate to safety.
So I did much to avoid actually writing. Instead of actively working on my novel, I read more books, I wrote more poems, I created more one word sculptures, I did more writing courses, I wrote more kids stories, and I wrote more email newsletters.
But I knew this was a story I really wanted to tell. Even now, over a year later, the story and the characters still appeal to me and excite me.
I was worried that I had forgotten how to write. I had to find a way to cut through a whole year’s worth of the literary noise of saving the cat while playing with growing fractal snowflakes who were all going on their own special heroic journeys by climbing F-word pyramids, plotting with big red dots, synopsizing, and then pantsing their way back up into the story grid of clouds above.
I blinked, and suddenly it was April.
April was National Poetry Month. I wrote poetry and poetry musings every day because I love to regularly engage with language. Being more intentional about creating a regular writing habit started to create a shift in me.
I decided to do Julie Duffy’s Storyaday challenge to write a story a day in May. I celebrated the daily win of regularly finishing a story and slowly become more confident. I told myself, “A bad story is better than no story!” to keep me focused on creating instead of criticizing. I learned so much; mainly that I could still write well even when I didn’t feel inspired.
I connected with Tammy L. Breitweiser through the story a day challenge and signed up for her Fabulous Flash Fiction 5-day workshop in June. Entering into a conversation about our writing and then sharing our work with other writers over the course of a week created a positive feedback loop in my mind. The weekly push group meetings, where we would meet up, celebrate our wins, discuss an aspect of writing and then write in the company of other writers was a big win for me. After struggling all this time, I finally discovered what was missing from my writing practice over all these years of writing for the lonesome trilogy of me, myself, and I. Productive writerly conversations with other writers.
I became part of a supportive writing community.
This gave me the confidence to join a writer’s group here in Taiwan, and I became brave enough to have two of my not-so-good pieces workshopped. As we are experiencing a surge of COVID cases in Taiwan, we met up online instead of in person.
Now I’m doing Tammy’s July challenge of writing for just 10 minutes a day. Her #10minaday challenge is continuing to nurture a productive daily writing habit for me.
2021 is starting to manifest so many good things for me.
So after stopping and starting “Davinci’s Hourglass” for over a year, I found a way to write my novel that is fun, actionable, and productive.
Last Sunday, after removing all the distractions and decorations around my writing space, I surveyed the material I had amassed for my novel and decided to ignore it all. A weight lifted off of my shoulders and I grew angel wings. I’m pretty sure the halo will appear once the novel is finished.
I opened up Scrivener, and wrote a few sentences about who Flora was, where she was, and what she wanted. I started at the beginning with the main goal of getting the reader to know more about Flora, to grow to care and love this imaginary person. I’ve now written four good scenes, and I like where my main character is taking me and the other readers. As I write her, I get to know more about her and the world she lives in, what’s important to her, and why things matter to her. I’m creating time and space for the reader (and for me) to get to know this character over the course of the first stage of my novel, the first quarter, or about 10,000 to 15,000 words. Once we know who Flora is, then she can start on her impossible quest to save her dad with the help of a brother she never knew she had, find her mom, uncover a valuable treasure, and make the world a better place.
My deadline to finish this opening section is July 15th, 2021.