Rod Serling (the creator of The Twilight Zone) said that writing is incessant, and demanding–and he succumbed to it. This is the best way to describe this entity, this power, this source knows as The Flow.
It is this need to create that is indescribable–this feeling that you as a creative person to pull out what is in your head, and put it on paper. Or on canvas. Or film. It is the feeling (it definitely starts as this), this unction that is pushing you to create, forcing you to create. I feels like all creative channels are open and anything that can be created, will be. The great thing about The Flow is once you have experienced it, you will never be confused as to what it is!
Think of it as a teapot. Your talent is what fills it. Time and effort heat the water, and when it whistles? That is your queue to create. That is your signal that you are sitting on something amazing, that you have the amazing on the inside of you–and you should believe enough in yourself to do access it, in order to bring to life what is already living on the inside of you.
The first thing you need know about writing is two things.
We are all taught how to write.
We do not all write.
When you decide to take your knowledge of words from academic to creative, the first thing you need to know is you believe you can. That type of belief is paramount, and is the foundation towards building writing as a hobby or career.
That belief is built letter by letter. Word by word. Page by page. It is built on ability, availability and time. Like anything, if you want to be good at this-you must master these things. You have to be willing to work beyond what other people do. You must understand that to be gentle with yourself while building is the key to developing this belief.
Just like the Little Engine That Could, you have to believe it before you see it. Keep chugging, keep going, keep writing!
One letter. One word. One line. One page at a time.
Note: These are real psychological conditions and they need to be treated with respect. With that said, fear is a source of self-rejection. So, let us examine this. -JBHarris
Scriptophobia: fear of writing in public
Graphophobia: fear of writing (or even thinking of writing)
Fear is the root of self-rejection as it relates to writing! Fear is a liar, a gossip, a mocking bird, and a hole in the bottom of any ship! It is the enemy of imagination. Let me say it again:
FEAR IS THE ENEMY OF IMAGINATION!
When confronting these serious circumstances, let me say these four things—
Fear is natural, not normal. There are some things about writing that are frightening. But most of this fear comes from what other people may think about your work! The red pens, the Omnipotent No and the rejection of manuscripts. Fear of rejection comes with the territory of writing. Yet, you must bear in mind this one thing, “I have the ability to write whatever I want, and I have the freedom to write whatever I want.”
Make this your mantra. It will save your sanity!
See what scares you. The thing that keeps your from writing, has to be seen in order to be confronted. The most important question you must ask yourself is, “What is scaring me about this work?” I cannot emphasize this enough! Aside from asking yourself, “What am I going to write about?” You have to ask yourself if there is something relating to this work–or a future work–that could cause you to be scared to write it. Here, right here, is where writers get and become stuck. If you cannot confront what is scaring you, if you will not confront what is stopping you, you will ever write.
Think about this! Do you want to be in such a blockage that you cannot create anything else…because you don’t believe you can!
See the problem, dear ones. Stop running from it.
*Note: Trauma is a real thing, and anxiety is real. Know that help is available, and you are entitled to ask for what you need. Artists sometimes are the people whom need to confront what bothers them, what hurts them in order to write as they need. Don’t release the gift without a fight!
Schedule, prep time andrelaxing. When confronting this level of fear and apprehension, getting a routine together to write/create is comforting. Even if that is 5 minutes to think about what you want to write. In that time, take 5 deep breaths–thinking on what you want to write about. Focus your energy on being relaxed enough to imagine. From that, try and write for five minutes. Consider this akin to learning to walk again. You have to give yourself time. Be gentle with yourself. Take it one step at a time.
Slay the dragons. Write. You have to write through the fear! You MUST write through the fear. Remember, the first person you write for is yourself! The first person who is your first fan of your work is YOU! The rest of the world will come–if you want.
Tip: Try keeping a journal. Don’t commit to a word count or page count. Just write. Whatever it is, whatever you feel. Just write it down.
This is a start, my Oracles. Take this tricks. Take these tools and slay your dragons. I know you can.
My Oracles, this one was tough. But I hope this sweetly told truth will help. -JBHarris
For artists, I think, we have a special burden.
We have a second sight: we see the world as is and as it could be. With that, there are forces in the world that shun those that see and see through the world around them.
Yet…those gifts and talents remain. For every writer that freed themselves of the bondage of this critical, analytical world, to write and create as they want, there are those whom haven’t. For them, today, I want you to know that I understand. I also understand how it happens. I call it the Family of Ations:
The parents of this Family of Ations is always EXPECTATIONS. There is nothing wrong with wanting more for yourself or setting a goal. But the problem is when other people’s expectations become yours–or drown out your own. Expectations are the dreams of other people force-fed to those whom are not hungry. Case in point: My father wanted me to go to med school; when I decided that I wanted to be a writer, he never looked at me the same. Yet, I wanted to write anyway! I would have had more joy (I think) were my father just supposed me instead of trying to make me become who he thought I should be. You must set your own expectations for what you want from your writing life and career.
The siblings of this family are REALIZATIONS. Expectations set the tone for how you except yourself, and the realizations from when what people think begins to remake what you think about yourself. Here–at this point–is when you either become free of other people’s expectations to strike out on your own, or you stop believing in what you know is true for yourself. Do not let the Family of Ations siblings bully you! Tell them to leave you be and you create anyway!
The cousins to this Family of Ations are CONFRONTATIONS. These are the the fights that happen, the open and secret conversations that happen as you try do the thing you love to do. In this case, its writing. There will be the people that tell you ‘its a pipe dream’, ‘its just passion projects’, and ‘you can’t make any money writing’ or what my own father told me: “You can’t eat with an English degree.”
Yet, here I am. Writing, with a day job, yes. But I’m writing because this is what I love to do! This is what I want to do because I’m good at it, I’m really good at it.
I had to set my OWN expectations: I had to ignore the people that didn’t believe in me.
I had to make my OWN realizations: I decided to pursue this with my whole heart. If I had to keep a day job to do it I was fine with that.
I had to make peace with knowing I will have to handle these confrontations as they come. I had to make peace with the snide comments, the doubts, the false support –and general disbelief in me (or you.)
John Wilmot, The Earl of Rochester said it best. “Your critics fall into two categories: stupid and envious. The stupid will love you in 5 years, and the envious never will.” Your job is to create…
Draw the stars. Worry about who looks at them later.
*Author note: Look for this to be a miniseries on The Writers’ Block Podcast.
Being a writer is a fraught with all types of pitfalls, stresses and doubts. The most uncomfortable of those bedfellows is self-rejection.
Self-rejection the stray dog which keeping coming to your back door even when you don’t feed it. It is the fly in the ointment, the hair in your favorite meal–it is an utter and complete nuisance. Yet, once you have seen it–you can’t unsee it. And then you see it everywhere. From that fear of seeing these disgusting things everywhere, these uncomfortable things, you don’t want to see them–or be where there are–ever again.
Yet, to be a writer of any consistent success you must confront the distraction of self-rejection. I’ll leave you a map when these cycles arise.
Check this out:
I. The Start.
II. The Middle.
III. The End.
The Start. Stephen King said the scariest part is right before you begin. You will always experience this at the start of any new draft, any new page or idea. You will always be afraid.
Remedy: Write scared. Write mad. Write anyway.
II. The Middle. In the middle of a work, you may feel like you want to scrap the entire work! You may feel the need to question your sanity, talent, and anything adjacent to it. However, do not give in to the need to throw it all away. Keep writing!
Remedy: It is completely okay to want to scrap a work. It is okay to not like an idea and want to start over.But you have to value the work you put into it. If the draft has become too hard, put it away. DO NOT ERASE IT. The best thing you can do for your imagination is to let it rest every now and then. Rest. Think. Come back to it.
III. The End. Oh, endings. We as writers beat ourselves up, down and over hot coals about these! It is the desire of every writer to tell a really good story—we almost hate to have the story end! However, even with us ending the story–we often hate it (this happens more than you think it does!). Then we start all over again with the wishing we never wrote it.
Remedy: Do not despair! If there is more story to be told try either writing a sequel (or prequel), or making the story a series. But, keep in mind–every story must end. You must make room for the other stories you desire to create. IF you don’t like the ending–give yourself 3 tries to get it as you want. If none of those fit, leave the original as is. Second, get beta readers! See what they think and take that into account! 85% of writing is the actual writing, the remaining 15% is how it is received. Readers are important–they can help save the life of a book.
IV. Rebeginning. As a writer, there will always be stories to tell. Other things, themes and people to create or revisit. You are going to have to get used to that. Whether you want to make writing a hobby, or just something pursue as a career. Every book brings new challenges. New fears. New things to research, uncover and confront. Not every idea is trash—and you shouldn’t treat it as such.
Remedy: Follow through. With every word you write, every post you publish, every book you finish, you will get better at this. Writing is a having to do mental exercise for the rest of your life! Get used to the jitters, that means you are creating something that scares you a little. This means it will be amazing.
The free writes, the stray and floating ideas–what do you have on hand?
On Season 1 of The Writers’ Block Podcast, I talked about the this concept. I talked about how we, as writers, don’t truly know the wealth that we have! In understanding that wealth you have, you created, you may have to create something that I call, the draft-drawer.
The draft-drawer is a place where you put all the work you haven’t gotten to yet, aren’t sure where to go next, or things you got stuck on. This could even be snippets of plots, titles, or even snippets of conversation you jot! Your draft-drawer is a both a well and wealth of information!
With the new year, new decade at slow hum, don’t think that you need to recreate the wheel! That can be stressful for a writer, trust me. But you need to know is the new, potent, powerful work may just be hidden in a file. It may be incomplete. It may be in the transition from the thoughts in your head to the words and worlds on the page.
The work is there. The work has always been there. It’s your job to either find it, complete it, or find more of it.
Writing is some of the hardest work I have ever had to do. Due to the desire I have for expression, language and words, I keep at it. I bend words, I learn new words, and I have the insane desire to show other people what I can do with those words.
Being a writer means, I hope to master language. I hope to push through doubts and darker thoughts to do what I love to do. Even when I don’t love to do it! This is the hope that I have for you.
I want you to have the boldness to look at a blank page and give a piece of your heart to it. I want you to be brave enough to record accents, portions of story and portions of life to the work. It is important that you know and remember this craft is a process. It is a craft. It is one of the most amazing things you can possibly do–if you are willing.
As you push towards the end of the year, remember to be gentle with yourself. Generous with your words, and remember their are 24 hours in a day. You can do it–if you desire to do.