Another entry from the archives of my writing journal, this one from December 2015. This was my biggest breakthrough as a writer up until that point. And actually, is still!
When I think about doing something but don't actually do it, a lot of negative thought can pile on to the task. This is especially true about writing. When I start thinking about writing instead of actually doing it, I can get into such a low, mucky place that I have given a name to it: the Monster. It's heavy and mean and has horrible teeth that grab onto my ankles and suck me down into a pit of doubt (which feels a lot like quicksand).
Lynda Barry, in her amazing (and very meta!) book about writing, What It Is, noted that when she thought about writing it stopped the actual experience of writing. "It seems," she writes, "that thinking and experiencing are not the same thing."
THINKING about writing (or anything challenging or unknown) often clogs my mind full of...
Ouch. Yes, it's a mean, mean Monster.
But if I can shake off thinking mode and get myself to into doing mode, if I can actually sit down and write, do it instead of just thinking about it, I can almost always send the Monster packing!
DOING writing often leads to:
This lovely outcome happens when I'm present and focusing on the process, but it can all fall apart in a hurry when I get focused on the results; that is, thinking about what I'm doing while I'm doing it.
Then I try to remember: the Monster is just thoughts. That’s all it is. All I need to do is write, let it unfold moment by moment, no past, no future, just now, and the Monster thoughts will lose their hold.
Bye, bye little Monster!!
In honor of Camp NaNoWriMo, April and July 2017- 2019
As I was looking through my writing journal, I found this old entry written in the middle of my very first Camp NaNoWriMo--which was also my first foray into any kind of public writing forum. Up until April 2017, I wrote alone. (Well, with my cat, of course. But involving other people: nope.) I didn't share what I was writing or thoughts about writing with other writers, even on-line. Only a few people knew I was writing a book, and I wouldn't tell them what it was about. But that all began to change, with one simple step out of isolation, and with it, a whole new way of looking at things:
April 17, 2017: By imagining/thinking that this book is possible, by creating a visual with my book cover and all of my notes and folders in one space and by creating a space specifically dedicated to this project, by joining a community of others that are also writing, by having specific goals, by making time for writing and making it a part of my day, all of these things are messages to me of possible--of not just choosing to focus on that state of reality with my thinking and actions, but also actually creating that state of reality by my thinking and actions.
I think that one of the reasons that it’s so easy to stray from possible to impossible, is that reason: both states exist all the time, together, and there can be so many ways we can move from possible to impossible in the space of a single day. A badly written chapter, hearing statistics about how hard it is to get published, a crisis as work or home, feeling down about yourself for some reason that carries over to other parts of you…and while most of us are busy with our lives, which can be enough to pull you away from “possible” some of us have rather extreme thinking/polarized thinking, and/or low self-esteem, and/or tendencies to depression, so moving from “possible” to “impossible” is going to be part of our writing journey. We just have to keep moving back to possible and taking care to limit those things that throw us off course, and having things in place to pull us back on course, like belonging to a writing community.