I am currently under a self-imposed, and deliberately enforced by my dear friends, ban on creative writing. Which, paradoxically, is making the whole role of writing in my life a much more comfortable thing.
Expectation was wreaking havoc with my sense of what was okay and what wasn’t in terms of writing in my life. I was creating this space where nothing I did was good enough. Nothing I wrote was of appropriate quality, I couldn’t edit or plan well enough to find and theoretically solve the issues in my many vomit copy manuscripts, I couldn’t come up with ideas that were good enough to write at all. This list turned out to be a long, stinging indictment of my sense of self-efficacy. And where the writing list stopped, the other imagined failings continued. Turns out I don’t deal well with a lack of sleep or time to dwell on things…
That left me feeling pretty dejected, and made writing seem like it was the last thing I wanted to do. Not surprising, when you consider just how much pressure I had managed to put on myself over it. Which was when I found this ripper of a blog that said you don’t have to write, and I realised I was thinking about this from entirely the wrong perspective. Now, I can’t find the freaking thing, but I will add the link when I locate it again, promise.
I thought I was doing the thing where what I wrote would be something I would edit, then rework until it was up to standard to give to beta readers. From there, once I had done more rewrites that I can imagine at this point, surely I would submit it to publishers and get my first deafening silence of internet age rejections. Those I could collect like badges, proof that I had tried to do the thing where you transition from a writer to an author.
The problem was, and would have been painfully still, I have no desire right now to string words together and create a story. I don’t even have the motivation at the moment to try and work out how to fix the rather impressive plot and planning holes I have in my vomit copy stories. Being a pantser has it’s draw backs.
And that’s perfectly okay.
At the moment, I have other things to focus on, and those things take the majority of my emotional and mental energy. In fact, because one of them is making sure I’m taking a particular medication to combat a pesky pain condition, I need to be devoting time to making sure I take really good care of myself. That means giving myself permission to be exhausted after work, and understanding when my brain works in odd ways.
I’m taking expectation, and I’m popping it into the Nano Lodge with my Inner Editor, and the various other Shoulds that live to make me feel uneasy. Check out Chris Baty‘s No Plot? No Problem! for a great explanation of that if you’re new to it. I’m also applying the principle from a horse trainer I am following; Make the right thing easy, make the wrong thing hard.
The right thing is recognising small steps, accepting my limits, and being kind to myself. So I’m banned from the kind of writing that makes me feel terrible. The only thing I’m expected to do with my horse is braid her mane. I don’t have any hobby projects with a deadline. I reward myself for doing the little things to increase exercise in my daily life.
It’s been a week, and I’m feeling better enough to write this post. I call that a step in the right direction.