#writingcraft: What is My Writing Affliction?

#writingcraft: What is My Writing Affliction?

The people who have been reading my blog for a while are well aware of my problems of adversity in my writing. They are often petty and ordinary in the realm of writing. Although I refuse to believe in writer’s block, I am pretty sure I have the affliction of “creative fear”.

I can think of all sorts of good stuff to write but to actually get it down on paper or onto the screen in front of me is a whole other matter. For some unfathomable reason, I cannot get my brain-children to move from my head to my fingers, at least with any clarity. Even my first sentences start out being out of whack, not really saying what I want them to convey.

What is unquestionably annoying is I seem to only have this problem with fiction. This is truly a CREATIVE FEAR. Give me real life and I can start off okay, move through the middle, although with some difficulty, and finish the piece without much worry. With real-life drama, I can spit out the details in the order they happened, using my thesaurus to punch up some of the language. Yet, I cannot seem to do this with fiction. I stare at the words the thesaurus suggests and still draw a blank, thinking there must be a better word I can use if I could just find it.

Ann Kroeker talked about this very thing in her podcast, If a Writing Nemesis Holds You Back, It’s Time to be Free. According to her talk on this subject [also can be read], I need to ignore this fear somehow and push on through to the end. Actually, I think I would be better off using her first analogy about how to get rid of the resistance. “If it’s a weed, dig it out.” All that good stuff is in my head. I just need to get it to go down my arms into my fingers. Whatever it is that is stopping the flow needs to be plucked out.

I started by reading Ann’s post instead of listening to it. I’m a visual person through and through–or so I thought. I started writing this post and got to the beginning of this very paragraph before I realized I dearly wanted to know what is stopping me from going past the first sentence, from going past the beginning to the middle, from going past the first draft to the second one. What is holding me back from finishing the first draft of another book I started? What is the obstacle that stops me from revising that first book? I wanted an answer so I went to Ann’s post again and LISTENED to what she had to say.

And it worked!

I am stopping myself from seeing all the mistakes, blunders, and amateurish writing I do. Sure, writing 500 to 1000 words as an entire piece is something I can do. Sure, I make mistakes, blunders, and write like an amateur but they are usually easy enough to fix. However, writing at least 65,000 words with all that garbage in it is a whole other story for me. Can I pluck out all of those weeds before the last bell rings? Oh, the feeling of being overwhelmed and pressured.

For some unknown reason, time has become my worst enemy and there is not a single logical reason for it. There aren’t any deadlines, not even any I have put on myself. Or have I put an imaginary one on myself?

I have taken writing classes in school all the way up through my college years. I even took a couple of classes through Writer’s Digest. Although there were always deadlines for assignments and articles, there was never ever any mention of deadlines when writing a book. Could this constraint about time be coming from all those assignments, articles, and reports I faithfully did?

Consciously, I know I have all the time in the world to finish a novel. I could do the whole thing 300 words per day including the self-edits before sending it off to a professional. However, subconsciously, I could be stopping myself in the middle of each writing session with deep seeded thoughts about not having enough time to finish.

Ann suggested writing a letter as if I were the enemy and, then, writing a letter back. Psychologically, this might work.

§

What is your affliction for your endeavor?

“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.”
Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

 

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16 Replies to “#writingcraft: What is My Writing Affliction?”

  1. Glynis, Have you tried to write without the goal of writing a book by a particular deadline? I’m suggesting that you simply write in a free form stream of consciousness. Get it on paper and don’t worry about development of any kind, just write the words that come from your interior, your soul, your muse, your ghost of Glynis-Past, your heart – I don’t care what you call it.

    Maybe your problem is not that you can’t write because obviously you can. This article is 735 words long. I think what you’re trying to do is write a finished book without going through the workshop of just writing. First you write. The book comes later.

    Each of us employs a strategy for our own success. By success what I mean is writing the story but that can be a long slog. Publication is another undertaking entirely. Have you considered that maybe you shouldn’t write fiction? Maybe you’re meant to write memoir, or creative non-fiction, or observational essays about contemporary issues, or histories of your local city, or reviews of plays or musical performances or op-ed pieces for controversial situations. None of these are any less or more noble than writing novels or short stories. They are just different forms of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is why I am starting to write articles again. Yes, if I was working for a magazine or newspaper there definitely would still be the deadlines but as a freelancer, I can write the article using whatever time I need and then submit it in hopes that it is accepted. I feel much more relaxed writing non-fiction. I don’t know why though.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t know if either of these ideas would help, but I’ve done one and it helped me overcome a small fear. First , try the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. Just write what comes to mind, fact or fiction, no editing, not much planning, just let the words go. I do this from time to time and it has helped me get past the idea that my posts have to be “perfect” – I put that in quotes, because I’ve never written anything that was perfect. I mess up medical forms.

    The other idea, one I haven’t done, is to do one of the prompts that start with a photo, where you have to describe the situation. The one I like (reading entries, never written) is Kieth Channing’s Kreative Kue on Tuesday. That’s more of a fiction writing exercise.

    Maybe if you just started plopping some stuff down on the page, it would make you realize that you can and that what you write is pretty good (it is).

    In any case, I think the way to get past this fear is to write yourself around it. Don’t worry about the deadlines (if there are any). Don’t even worry about actually putting your work out there (although we would enjoy reading it). Just write.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dan, it’s sweet of you to show such concern. I was using photos as prompts for a while and, then, things somehow got changed around. I started writing and, then, would look for the photo that fit what I had written. As for writing without editing, I don’t think I could even do it. I’m a perfectionist through and through. Anyway, it’s great to have you in my corner. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve thrown away some of my SoCS attempts, after they got tangled-up in bad tense or a story line that I couldn’t recover from or bring to a graceful close. I struggle to keep those under control, but it’s fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. One part of your post stuck out to me–that you don’t have this problem with non-fiction? Have you tried creative nonfiction or historic fiction as genres less tightly tied to the skills that are giving you problems?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As a matter of fact, Jacqui, I started writing a historical fiction story a few months ago that also has some paranormal to it. However, I really do think I need to do more research on the era and do a detailed outline before I go any farther with it. In the meantime, I am writing articles.

      Like

  4. For me, the hardest part is getting started. I’m sure that’s quite common. I’m learning to push through, and as I consistently produce 1,200 words a week of narrative nonfiction, I find the pull to write fiction become more prevalent as well. Thanks for the Ann Kroeker podcast mention. I’ve recently started to explore podcasts and will add hers to my listening list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I should do what you’re doing, writing more narrative non-fiction. I started still another diary in which I am doing the narrative stuff but I need to lengthen my time with it somehow.

      More often than not, I read Ann’s posts but this particular one really needed me to listen to it.

      Like

  5. My writing affliction is the need to write a perfect draft. I know first drafts aren’t going to be any good and that I can polish them in the next draft. But I feel this need to make it right the first time. It’s very surprising I get a draft done with this kind of mentality. But I’m trying to push myself to get the words out there. To get them on the page first before I start fiddling with them. To help with this, I intentionally write my first drafts in my notebook, then will type out subsequent drafts. It’s worked thus far.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think your problem is complex, Glynis, with no easy answers; I also think most of us deal with it in one way or another. My way is to just keep plugging along, which I have to do with the friction I’m trying to write more than with the creative non-fiction I write for my blog and columns. I tell myself if I get something down, I’ll able to revise it into something of worth because I revise well and enjoy the process. It usually works. Not always. I read all the comments and am intrigued by the hand-written first draft idea of G.R. McNeese. On a computer It is so easy to revise as you go and bog yourself down. I think he’s on to something.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I run a creative writing club at the school I teach at and before the students set on their task I get them to write for 3 mins. I give a prompt, usually a word or a phrase to get them going. In the time give they just write and I tell them not to worry about punctuation, spelling and grammar. Afterwards, I get them to edit their work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would probably freeze in a situation like that. It would take me more than three minutes to think of something to write. By the time I sit down in from of the keyboard I have an idea floating around in my head.

      Liked by 1 person

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