In Which I Give Myself A Pep Talk

figure practice133 copy

I have a lot of dreams, most of which will probably never come true. Like, for example, I want to be a famous film actor. That’s never going to happen unless a bunch of things outside of my control fall into place. I might believe in hard work and all that jazz, but I don’t have any illusions about the actual lifestyle of a wannabe actor.

Plus, I Don’t Think I Want To Live In LA

I have a lot of big dreams about my fiction, too, and I only care about four of them. The four dreams I am really invested in are mostly in my control, and they’re reasonable (to me).

Plus, They’re Very Secret, Kinda

Something I knew I was going to have to make peace with when I started out to write novels consistently was the never-ending drudgery of committed creative work. I wouldn’t say I’m a stranger to drudge-like creative work; I don’t have much to show for it now, but I have spent an awful lot of time and energy thrashing about in artistic endeavor. I remember the time I got into professional production work; art became, very quickly, a job.

Ah, Disillusionment!

Writing is different. There’s the actual stringing together of words, but then there’s the higher-level stuff, like the moral tone of your stories, and the deeper meaning communicated by your internalized values. You don’t want to look like a fool through your fiction, but you also want to embrace the imaginative process. It’s a difficult balance, because you have to remain aloof enough to see the total effect of your composition, but still imbue the writing with intoxicating personal emotion.

That Special Zing Of Interest

And then there’s the mental process, which is often more fraught with difficulty than the actual writing. Believing in your potential, and getting to work every day, even when it seems like you aren’t adding up to anything, can seem impossible.

I Think Most Writers Are Depressed

A big step towards coming to terms with the endless drudgery of work that lies between any writer and a finished manuscript is learning to think realistically about the writing process. Quite often, our minds are trapped in all-or-nothing thinking patterns; we swing from euphoria to the doldrums without apparent warning, and spend much of our lives stuck in a sort of nameless malaise. We want success, but our mood never seems to match up precisely with the attitude we know we need to have to buckle to, day after day.

Habits And Rituals Help

One thing that is very helpful to remember is that action precedes emotion. When you are not working, you notice, and you feel as if you aren’t making any progress on your writing goals. When you take action, and get to work, you will start to feel better–because you are now progressing on your goals. Too often we wait for our emotions to change, but waiting only worsens our perception of the situation. Avoidance, shame, and guilt can all be removed by buckling to. Remember, you can always write a couple of words on your work, and then, after you’ve written two, you can write two more. Chains of words put together, end to end, add up to a completed manuscript, and a completed manuscript can be edited.

Hooray For Revisions!

It doesn’t really matter what anyone else is doing, or what they say about their writing, or about yours. You’re you, and only you know what it is going to cost you internally to get work done, and how much you want to get to the end of a particular project. Write for you; take action for you, and over time, the doldrums will become background noise.

Focus On You

Everyone must work to get their stuff written; set things up for you, and only for you. Tailor your goals and your writing habits to your personality and taste, and then build yourself a bubble of immunity against all the outsiders and get to work, again and again.

You’ve been reading Victor Poole, and I think I’m going to change the landing page of my blog.

Advertisements