My relationship with writing is complicated and borders on ridiculous. A lot of writer advice says to write every day, every day, every day. Or else. I can’t do that, I can’t keep it up. Quite simply my health won’t allow it – both my physical and mental chronic diseases – but I continue to shame myself for not writing every day because I have so much time so I should be writing every day. That’s not helpful! One might even argue it’s not healthy!
On top of this shame I hold this belief that there’s no reason for me to bother to write since I can’t write every day because I’ll never get anything done. This is further enforced by the fact that I’ve never finished anything. (outside of the writing ‘classes’ I did on the Coursera platform. Wait nevermind, I didn’t finish the last one class that was the capstone. Seeeee what I’m talking about? Sigh.)
Recently I’ve come to wish that I’d majored in creative writing in grad school, not applied sociology. I can’t be disabled and do anything with an applied sociology degree, aside from be angrier at the world than the average compassionate human being. But I can’t change that. I did a lot of writing in grad school, but none of it was fiction.
Instead I need to change the dynamic of the relationship I have with writing. I have accepted that I cannot write every day for a variety of reasons, the top of the list being because of my health and physical limitations. Like I can’t type all day and still use my hands the next day, even with one of those natural ergonomic keyboards. Even typing this now my fingers have started to throb. Or at least I think I’ve accepted this, maybe I haven’t yet?
The biggest thing to change, maybe, is the belief that having yet to finish a project (usually novel size projects) doesn’t mean I’ll never finish a project, regardless of how frequently I work on it. There’s plenty of (fantasy) authors out there I can be… inspired by? GRRM still hasn’t finished his series. We’ve been waiting on Rothfuss to finish his last book for how many decades? I compare myself to others but I only do it in a way that further defeats me. That’s a poorly worded sentence. I’m trying to say I seem to only compare myself to others when it enforces my negative beliefs. I say seem to because I’m sure there’s something I’m not remembering or there’s a different area of life where I don’t have this issue. Wait, maybe I say seem to so I can hope that it’s not true. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to write a book, unless your publisher gave you a deadline.
To further compound this problem I’ve made, I have serious issues coming up with new ideas. New ideas take a lot of energy and it’s difficult to tell when an idea is good. I haven’t figured that out yet. By good I mean something useable, to develop, and spend energy on. I want to write a book sized story. I have premises but I’m not sure I have any actual ideas. Developing a premise into a book idea is exciting but also terrifying because then you have a book to write. Books are huge projects I have no other context in life for, including work or school. The longest projects I had in school lasted one semester. The only other creative hobby I have is knitting and it doesn’t compare.
So because of my anxiety and depression and memory problems, I find it easier to not do anything and then I find myself wishing I was writing or wishing I wanted to be writing. It’s a sick little loop that’s not helpful and I need to destroy it. I don’t write because writing is hard and I make no progress and never finish anything. I shame myself because I’m not writing. Continue to not write. Rinse, repeat. This is gone on long enough that I feel like brainstorming is a mountain that’s impossible to climb and who wants to climb an impossible mountain? (I know there are people out there that do, I don’t understand them.)
Finishing reading Writing Down The Bones helped me to put these feelings into words. With the words attached to the feelings maybe I can move forward. Finally. Wait, who am I kidding? I’ll have to continue to fight this cycle if I want to write. Sometimes it might go away, but it’ll keep trying to come back. I’ve given it a life of its own. The real trick here might be remembering all of this and remembering that what I’m doing to myself doesn’t help my mental health.
Or maybe the trick is to continue to focus on writing despite everything. Because writing is magic.