Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Writers Rehab

First, let me say this isn’t that kind of rehab. I have not been consuming vast quantities of mind-altering substances—no wait... I have, if you consider creativity as a mind-altering experience, which it certainly is. But other than creativity, I don’t really indulge in all that other stuff (heck, I don’t even drink caffeine), so this is a different kind of rehab.

This is the Joys of Writing Rehabilitation.

I mentioned recently that I’ve been taking my writing journey too seriously and that was cramping the fun and my ability to just let stories come into being without harshly judging every single word that met paper (or the computer screen). Since I’ve learned I’m not alone in this experience, I thought I’d write a blog about my rehab and the things I’ve learned so far.

Easing back isn’t really as easy as it seems or should be. After pushing hard for so long, it is very difficult to not push, to not query bunches, to not force another draft through the gears so that I can get more opportunities for success out onto the market.

I know every writer’s journey is unique, but with several agented friends, I must say that easing back comes with the uncomfortable feeling of being left behind. I am thrilled for my agented writer friends and look forward to seeing their novels (especially the ones I’ve read) in print, but the feeling of being left behind is something I struggle with as I try to take it easy. And the truth is, I didn’t even see this pressure affecting me until I started to slow down. Perhaps it has been an unseen driving force for a long time. If so, that’s a pattern I have to break. It’s unhealthy and certainly doesn’t foster the kind of writing sensibility I yearn to have. Everyone else’s successes/challenges in publishing have very little to do with me, other than my feelings of support, earnestly shared. My path is unique, just as everyone else’s is. That’s an important mantra to consider, because in the comparison of journeys lies ugly roots of envy and entitlement, instead of celebration of the uniqueness of each writer’s voice.

This makes me think of one of my favorite quotes from THE MOUNTAIN IS YOUNG.

"Is it not sufficient that to you something is given, not to be buried in the ground, but to use? Use it well, with no thought of success or failure..."

No thought of success or failure... that’s not an easy mark to reach, and yet, through just playing with words, imagining stories, and bringing the fun back into the writing process, I think the goal is a reachable one.

Since easing back has its own set of challenges, I’m just taking baby steps. Cleaning out my office to eliminate some clutter, playing around with beginnings to my work in progress, and trying not to take myself or anything too seriously. And I’m reading THE TAO OF POOH.

(I might have also made some of my favorite cookies and some homemade cinnamon rolls to help with the fun quotient, which was very successful I might add.)

Quote for the Day from THE TAO OF POOH by Benjamin Hoff

“When you know and respect your Inner Nature, you know where you belong. You also know where you don't belong.”

8 comments:

Debra L. Schubert said...

Great post, Julie. You express the fragility we all feel along the path to publication, agented or not, published or not. Creating simply for the joy of creating is undeniably its own success. However, it's near impossible to keep from wanting more. Thanks, again, for speaking eloquently for the masses. I'm off to tweet this. ;-)

Kasie West said...

I LOVE that last quote. This was a great post. It's so true. Each story is unique and our story can never be someone else's so we might as well stop comparing.

Julie said...

Debbie,

Thanks for the comment. And we all are fragile. I don't think that ever goes away, our need to connect with people through our art. But creating for itself is a beautiful thing and I'm looking forward to all I discover during my August (and maybe more) Writers Rehab.

Love Ya.

Julie said...

Kasie,

Darn tooting. As hard as it is, we all need to walk our own roads and not worry so much (guidance to self) about what other people are doing on their roads, otherwise we might just miss the wonder waiting for us on ours. :)

Mary Campbell said...

I really like this post. I stopped writing and I can't seem to get back into it because I don't enjoy it anymore - but I feel guilty for not using a discovered talent. Putting the fun back in might be exactly what I need. Good luck on easing back.

Jessica Hill said...

This is really a great post. I, too, have been thinking that I'm taking my writing journey too seriously and that I need to ease back and bring the fun back into it. It's always great to know you're not alone. Thanks for sharing. :)

Julie said...

Mary,

Thanks for stopping by the blog. And I totally understand. Our creativity is a fragile little thing, and too much pressure can make it run for the hills taking the fun with it. I hope you find your way back, because life without creativity is a little too real for me. :)

Julie said...

Jessica,

You are definitely not alone, and it's wonderful for me to hear that I'm not either. And my status update is, since I've been working on the fun, the writing is bubbling over. I just am trying not to look at it with too grown-up an eye, just let it flow and go wherever it wants. The grownup editing stuff comes later. Here's to bringing the fun in. ;)