I was hanging out with Tricia on Saturday, thinking/complaining about how I’m so inconsistent with how I write. First, I don’t do it often enough. Second, as soon as something’s not fun anymore I give up on it. Third, I don’t even revise what I finish or let me friends comment on it.
And as any writer will tell you, a writer writes. So that makes me not a real writer…right?
But, here’s the thing. Don’t delude yourself, but don’t be too hard on yourself either. There are always extenuating circumstances, and you need to take a deep breath and decide whether to suck it up and stop making excuses for yourself OR if you need to get help and take care of yourself. You know, mentally.
My happiest writing memory, by far, is sitting at the junior high where I worked a couple of years ago, subbing a teacher’s classes while the students watched a mockumentary about dragons, and working on a brand new novel. It was four hours of fun. Four hours that I hold on to like I’m hanging on to the edge of a cliff. Because beyond those few hours, writing has never been fun for me. It’s a painful, abusive hobby. The only reason I still want to do it is because I have too many characters running around in my head. I want to give them life, but actually doing it feels like rubbing my face against a cheese grater. (If you’re a perfectionist to the extent that I am, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.)
Those Platonic hours were the easiest, sunniest writing hours of my life for virtue of the fact that I was in the best place mentally that I’d been in years, and have been in years.
So if anyone is beating themselves up because their dream is to be a writer/artist/whatever, but they just can’t seem to get it together, you have all my commiseration. Rather than repeat over and over that writers write, let’s focus our energies on taking care of ourselves. With that in mind, I’ve created a self-care list for writers.
JK Rowling’s Harvard commencement speech is still one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever heard.
Learn to recognize shame in order to eliminate it from your thoughts:
Laughter is the best medicine and I don’t care how hackneyed that phrase is, it’s true.
Laugh and cry with Allie Brosh?