Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our Own Worst Enemy


Mirror, Mirror...

As a writer, I am in a state of flux at this point in my journey. I am navigating the waters from being unpublished to being published. It's a big change, but certainly not the only change I've faced thus far.

Writers will have many shifts in their journey. I say journey because we, as writers, are constantly moving down the path of learning -or should be. We start out knowing nothing other than we have a need to express ourselves with the written word. We learn craft, become proficient, finish our books, search for an agent... it goes on and on. And the further one goes, the more one learns that this is a journey of one. You will meet others along the way: friends, crit partners, agents, editors, reviewers, etc. But in the end, it is your own journey.

And it is a mental one.

And it is where we become our own worst enemy.

Because whatever emotional baggage you carry, whatever fears, hangups, insecurities you have will most certainly rear its ugly head. How can it not when you are required to both trust your instincts yet learn when to listen to reason? When you must face rejection and praise? When you must learn to dig deep into yourself and produce a story? Again and again.

My writer friends and I joke that writing is 90% head games we play with ourselves. The percentage varies from person to person, but it is absolutely a stumbling block a writer must learn to crawl over. And it doesn't get easier. It gets worse. The farther you go, the more you must learn to ignore the inner baggage and just do what you do.

Just how you do this will be up to you. Me? I've learned to realize that I will be judged by others. Some people will hate my work, some will put their own expectations on me, believe me to be something I am not, the list goes on. Others will love and support me no matter what. And while some situations will suck and others will be wonderful, none of that has anything to do with who I am inside.

The only thing I am in control of is me: how I deal with a situation, what I produce, how I react.

So as writers, I urge you, don't get sucked up in the craziness. Don't get caught up in the "Me's" What about me? What does the world thing of me? That way lies madness.

Instead turn it to "I." How do I feel? And what am I going to do about it? More importantly, what do I need to do to enjoy this process? Because at the end of the day, that's what it's about: enjoying yourself.

6 comments:

  1. Oye! I need some of that today--the enjoying. Deadlines are such a blight on the happiness factor. Part of me thinks I should ignore the manuscript requests and remain in the lovely warm darkness of writer oblivion, never stepping out into the cold harsh spot light of publication. Another part of me says that part of me is insane. =) Ah, the head games.

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  2. Oh, it is a really stressful time. You're absolutely right about the headgames. I enjoy writing most when I have time to do it, focus on it...where do you find that with kids or a dayjob?!

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  3. I vs Me - that's a new way of looking at it. Thanks Kristen. I've got to toughen up my skin as I wade back into querying...

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  4. You are so right! If I could get that mean little girl that screams you can't write out of my head, I'd be a star. :)

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  5. Crystal -- I've been there. It is most certainly a crazy head game.

    Lucy -- yeah, it's hard, isn't it? With kids, I started at nap time, then upgraded to writing when they were at school or at night. I think we have to train ourselves to focus more readily, since our time is so limited.

    Ciara -- I hate that mean girl. I tell her to shut up all the time. :)

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  6. Deniz -- There is a long and sad history of believing that if you focus on yourself you are selfish. I think this is rot. The only people we can change, or make better is ourselves. If you are insecure, mistrustful, hateful, what have you, you affect those around you adversely. So by thinking of yourself first, especially in an endeavor that has the potential to destroy your self-confidence, you are not only helping yourself, but those within your sphere as well.

    Besides, if you are going to survive as a writer, you have to find a way to ground yourself and get rid of crazies. :D

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