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Why I have writers block

1) I hate writing stories, because they expose my writing weaknesses.

I've been forcing myself to stay away from the longer projects in an attempt to try to master the short form - my reasoning being that I tend to write more rather than less, and I thought that writing works under 7k words would help me learn to pare away the excess words. But the fact is, I prefer to write novels - I LOVE writing novels. I can write a novel in two months. It takes me just as long to write a story. And it's not that it's easier for me to "hide my mistakes" in 100,000 words, but... it sort of is. You can maybe fuck up a few small things in a big-ass novel, but there's nowhere to hide in a flash fiction short. Writing 500 words is so much harder than writing 100,000 - because every one of those 500 words has to be the perfect word for that story. You really can't make mistakes. And I make a fuck-ton of mistakes. It's hard to admit, but when they're glaring at you so nakedly from your teeny story, it's difficult not to see them. I suppose it's good that I do see them at all, but I need to go a step further and finish the story so I can fix them. It's useless to say "I see my mistakes" when I don't ever have to fix them, because I never get to the end.

2) I turn every "short story" idea into a "novel" idea.

So, I get a good idea for a short story. I tinker with it, write a few paragraphs, and then suddenly I'm adding all this shit about "oh, this could be a SERIES, and I have to read a thousand books about X, Y and Z so I can do some worldbuilding, so I'd better stop writing because I need to think about how I'm going to turn this into a 600-page epic". I think, personally, that this is just my way of crapping out on the story writing process, because - see #1 above. It sounds like I have this sooper-smart imagination, when really it's just me being all lazy-assed and full of shit, and not having to do the hard work of pushing through to the finish line. I hate to tell myself this, but: "hey, Livia, not every goddamn idea you come up with is worthy of a bestselling trilogy. YOU'RE NOT THAT FUCKING GOOD. So just calm down, stick to the short story word limit, and finish what you started." I'm hoping Clarion will knock this crap attitude out of me, or at least put a good dent in it.

3) I'm afraid to write crap.

Somewhere in the past year I've developed this censorship of the writing process - instead of simply writing down whatever I want without worrying if it's "right" or "wrong", I've been peering over my own shoulder, telling myself not to put down a single word unless it's "perfect". Which is ridiculous, because writing crap is ok. Writing crap is necessary. If I don't write out the crap, then it'll just stay stuck inside of me, and I'll never get past it to the few good words I have.

4) I compare myself to published writers, and castigate myself for not writing at a level that is still years beyond me. (AKA: The Jealousy Factor)

I spend way too much time comparing published novels and writer's professional careers to my unpublished work and neo-pro struggles - especially those writers who seem to have "easier" access to the words than I have. Again: ridiculous. Ya know, I'm not a genius writer, and I need to get over it. I'm always going to fall down more times than I get up. I'm not speshul. Big fucking deal: most of us aren't. I have this fear that I'm nothing more than one of the millions of mediocre people who blog a lot of shit about writing, but never really rise to the top. Well, so what? If that's how it washes out, so be it. Besides, I don't know everyone's story - everyone's struggled and stumbled and written horrible, tear-inducing crap. I need to stop making assumptions about other people (when it's none of my fucking business to begin with), and just concentrate on creating my own stuff. Besides, I don't know the full stories behind all those publishing successes. And for all I know, someone may think I'm some bitch who wrote a few words in a couple of minutes and "lucked out" by getting them published. There will always be plenty of people to draw false conclusions and dismiss my few successes as too-easily won - why should I therefore do it to myself? It's petty and mean-spirited, and I need to put a halt to that kind of thinking, before it poisons me so thoroughly that I'm no longer able to write at all.

5). I don't have writer's block. I'm full of shit.

Saying I have writer's block is just an excuse for not writing. OMG I can't write because I have Teh Writer's Block!!1! What am I going to do when I get to Clarion? "I'm sorry, I can't write this week. I'm just not feeling it." Writing isn't just a talent, it's a muscle - if you don't use it every day, it gets all flabby and weak. It's not just about "feeling it" or "being in the moment". It's about sitting down and forcing yourself to write as often as possible, even if the ceiling is falling down around you. It takes repetition. It also takes repetition. And, finally, it takes repetition.
*****

So: I can't really spell out step-by-step what I need to do, but I think it's pretty apparent that there are some mental and emotional blocks I have to start chipping away at. And I have to keep writing, even while I'm chipping. I'd love to be able to work out all my issues, sit down at my computer all shiny and new, and just tap away at the keys with all my problems behind me... but it doesn't work like that. We all have shit, we'll always have it, and we need to bring it to the table with us, otherwise we won't ever get to the table at all. And I can't wait for Clarion to start working on writing. I have to start now - because, in a way, Clarion's already begun. So I need to buckle down and write - and write A LOT, whether I "feel" it or not. If I can't make myself write, there's no reason to keep calling myself a writer.

Marine Autumn

I owe you marine autumn
With dankness at its roots
and fog like a grape
and the graceful sun of the country;
and the silent space
in which sorrows lose themselves
and only the bright crown
of joy comes to the surface.

--Pablo Neruda.


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