The Pros and Cons of Being a Writer- Part II (Kind of)

*This post, unlike the first one of the same name that I published over a year ago, will not consist of a list so much as the struggles I’ve experienced recently with writing and what I am attempting to do to overcome them, etc. 

Hey it’s me. I know, weird, right? How long has it been since I’ve written an actual post? Way too long, that’s what. To be completely frank, here’s what’s been up with me:

I gave up.

Writing is hard; extremely rewarding, but very hard. Even writing this post for me is hard because in my head I know there are the things I should be doing (reading 50 pages of the Odyssey–fabulous text, by the way–for my Mythology class tomorrow, preparing a potential novel for NaNoWriMo, looking for internships, reading 100 pages for my Algorithms and Complexities class (also due tomorrow); and, no, I will not tell you how I landed myself in a class that sounds, at least for me, like it emerged from the bottom most pits of hell (trust me, the professor makes all of the difference), but I will tell you that it is not as bad as it sounds.) All of these things I should be doing.

And what do I really want to be doing? Writing.

But then I don’t do that either.

Why?

I’m not sure if this happens to any of you, but for me, I’m not so great at balancing my work with my writing; as a young writer, this is probably the #1 thing I struggle with most. Here’s why: when I want to write (which is an urge I experience multiple times every day; I think it just comes when you’re passionate about something, be it writing or something else), it tends to distract me from whatever I’m doing at the time. It’s why I have sticky-notes lying EVERYWHERE in my room, on my desk, in my backpack. If I have a sudden thought, I write it down. I even have a binder that is solely dedicated to sticky note ideas–whether they be about the editing of my novel, or an idea for a new one, a short story concept, etc.–that I keep tucked under my bed.

However, and this is a big however, it makes it hard for me to do the work that I don’t want to do (but needs to be done), which leads me to do nothing at all. Theoretically, you might think that if I was being so distracted by my writing, I would write instead of doing my homework.

If only. At least then I might feel a bit more accomplished than I do now.

No, what happens to me is that I get so caught up in the idea that there is work I have to do but that isn’t getting done (because of various writing and non-writing distractions), that I freeze up and can no longer write. It’s a catch-22 that drives me insane: I’m too busy thinking about writing to work, and then when I try to write, the thought of the work that I have to do stresses me out to no end and I feel that the only thing I can write is complete and utter crap.

One of the things that used to help me out a lot with this was this blog. I didn’t have to worry about character progression or plot holes or bad grammar. If I wanted to write a supper long sentence with no punctuation whatsoever that would probably make an editor cry but that made me explicitly happy because it was simply my thought process and nothing else I could write that.

But life always seems to get in the way, doesn’t it?

So then there was no more daily writing, which admittedly sent me into a writing depression, and all I could think about was how life is hard and maybe I’m not meant to be a writer, even though it’s what I love, and maybe I am going to have to get a job with people who hate what they do for one reason or the other, and that’s what I would do. Forever.

A terrifying thought if you ask me.

For me, a person who relies a lot on “vibes” and how I, as a human being, am sensing those around me (which sounds corny, but I don’t know how else to explain it), the thought of being around negative people for long periods of time is daunting. And worse than anything, I was becoming a negative person, which just added to the dragging feeling that was taking over my life.

Now, I’m not telling you guys this to be all “woe-is-me,” because reading stuff like that pisses me off, so I know it must be frustrating for you too. What I’m trying to say (and I have no idea if this is even going well or not), is that this experience–if this is happening/did happen to you–is something that is common.

I just now came back from a presentation where author Steven Gillis, a literary fiction writer, was talking about the various novels and works he’s published in the past (he’s now a publisher himself: Dzanc Books in Ann Arbor, Michigan; he’s a really interesting guy, even if his work isn’t what you like to read.) The point he kept emphasizing over and over and over again is this: write the best book/ poem/ short story/ screenplay/ etc. as you possibly can, and then try to get it out in the world.

For me, I know that the idea of getting an agent, getting published, having people read my book; yeah, well, for a long time that’s what was stuck in my head, not the story I wanted to tell.

That is NOT the way to do it.

And that’s what I’m going to be working on now: writing the best novel I can write. Getting the characters, so many of whom are stuck in my head and won’t leave me alone, written down on paper, and then rewriting the crap out of it until I’m confident I’ve completed something I am proud of and that I think stands for something.

And, especially for me right now, after a long period of having nothing written down whatsoever, I think just getting some different ideas and novel concepts (that have been spinning in my head forever) written down on paper–first drafting them–will help me immensely with figuring out where I am and where I want to go.

If you are at all feeling the same way I am, or if you’re a young writer looking at this (thanks for making it this far with me, by the way, I really appreciate it 🙂 ), please don’t give up. Especially young writers. Like I said, writing is not easy, but it’s very rewarding. Creating people, places, situations from nothing can be taxing on your psyche and your mental fortitude. Why do you think so many famous authors were alcoholics or ended up committing suicide? (This is something you SHOULD NOT DO. If you are ever feeling like you are having such a hard time that you want to turn to one of these extremes, please talk to someone. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, and more people do it than you might think. If you are a university student, there are almost always clinics on campus where you can meet with someone and discuss what’s happening in your life and why you are feeling so badly. They are there to help you, and more students take advantage of these programs than you know. You are not alone!)

I don’t want anyone to read this post and feel bummed about writing. For me, my struggle is keeping my life balanced, but this is something that comes with everyone who has a passion/ life goal that they are working toward. There is always going to be stuff that you want to do and stuff that you have to do, and these two things might be worlds apart as far as scheduling and, for lack of a better word, “funness” are concerned.

Just keep writing. That’s the advice that I hear all of the time from other writers (published and not published), professors, editors, publishers. It’s how you are going to find your voice and it’s how you are going to, eventually, be able to discern the gems from the shit.

This is what I am going to attempt for myself; something I am working on incorporating into my daily schedule, and NaNoWriMo will be a test of it.

P.S. If you don’t know about National November Writing Month, it’s an awesome organization that challenges writers to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. You join, are set up with a support group of other writers taking on this challenge, and you can track your progress throughout November to, hopefully, reach that 50,000 mark at the end. There’s also awards given out at the end of the whole thing to people who have accomplished the (super daunting) task; but to be fully honest, I’ve never made it quite that far 🙂

BUT THIS IS A NEW YEAR AND BY GOLLY I’M GOING TO DO IT!

Perhaps I will share my progress with you guys too to help keep me motivated 🙂

Okay, so now I really have to do my homework, but this is something I’ve been wanting to write for a while and I felt like I needed to sit down to do it. Expect more lighthearted posts (and potentially more pieces of writing) coming your way in the near future. I’m also trying to get back on a weekly blogging schedule, but that’s a lot at once, so we’ll see.

I love you all, thanks for sticking with me!!!

Your average friend,

Mel

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