Time, insecurity and other woes
This writing lark – it’s hard. Occasionally ya gotta get something off your chest. This is one of those times. I’ve hit a slump, a rut, a drought, call it what you will. Following on from last week, here are some of the reasons. May you find solace in my pain.
Never Enough Time…
I will be honest, there is this kernel at the back of my mind that still ticks over my ideas. Actually, it’s more than that, it is this desire that screams out to be heard. I would say this is essential if you’re working in any kind of creative art form. You have a vision and you desperately want to create some kind of record of it, whether it be expressed visually, through paint, sculpture, film, or with words. Unfortunately this is being crushed by the other mundanities in my life.
Unless you’re writing full time (and making money out of it) then chances are you’re going to have a ‘real’ job. Some people also have family life to juggle in there too. So how do you fit writing into that, in a positive enthusiastic way?
I feel like a great deal of my passion has been dulled, especially when working on huge projects, and my job sucks all the enthusiasm out of me. After a long day of doing absolutely nothing worthy of note, I find it almost impossible to summon up the energy to sit in front of my computer and delve into this huge world full of (hopefully) interesting characters, all walking perilously close to the edge of disaster at every turn.
One might ask why I wouldn’t want to do that, since this would allow me an appropriate escape from the tedium of my real life? It’s a question I don’t have an answer for.
Never Good Enough…
I’m sure every writer has this crisis at some point, wondering if what you’re writing is good enough, whether it’s worth it, whether all the toil, blood, sweat and tears has ultimately been a good judgement. Self doubt is part of every endeavour, artistic or not.
I can’t tell you how many times (especially when I’m whiling away the long hours at work) I’ve wished I could strip everything away, get rid of the job, the console, the food, all the distractions, and sit down and write, like some wild haired maniac painting his opus.
But even if I did so, would the end result demonstrate I did the right thing? Well, maybe not if I got rid of the food, I’m sure delirium would sink in after a while.
In all seriousness though, how do I create this kind of intense focus amidst all the other ‘real’ stuff that life throws at me? How do I rediscover this… need to write that cannot be quelled by anything? Is such a thing even possible?
No Safety Net… a possible way out
Here’s a way out that might be more practical than quitting human society.
During one of my procrastination sessions, I turned to YouTube. Yes, I know, that was certainly a mistake. But I came across a clip of Louis CK, during his tribute to the late great George Carlin (it’s below). He mentioned how George, to keep his ideas fresh, would throw out his entire routine each year, leaving him with nothing, and forcing him to start anew, from scratch.
I think this is a really powerful idea, if (in some circumstances) impractical. To do so in writing (I’ve discovered over the years) leaves you without that safety net. You can get so used to a bunch of characters, and feel that you have so much still to explore with them (especially in genre fiction) that you may want to stay with them.
In my younger years, I never wanted to be someone who ended up writing sequels for the sake of it, because it feels safe or well-established, which is one of the reasons why I was so prolific back then (and also why I have so many half finished ideas and projects littering up my various disks and drives).
I love the idea of getting a project finished, bam, done, and then moving onto something new. Like George Carlin, it will make you dig deeper, and find new and interesting stuff that you may not have even thought about otherwise.
Over to you:
Don’t let this page be dominated by my whinging – feel free to share your writing worries and grumbles as well. Maybe someone can offer you (and I) some advice!