Saturday, November 13, 2010

Facing my writing fears...

Last week on the Throwing up Words blog, Chris Crowe did a stint as guest blogger and wrote this post about writing as an act of faith and then there was a fabulous writing exercise about what keeps us from writing. Here is my response which, crazily enough, actually includes Chris Crowe as someone who helped me to face my writing fears. Crazy!

I used to believe that "life" kept me from writing. There just wasn't enough hours in the day to do everything I needed to do to survive and to write.

First there was college, where I had to write all those required papers and read all of those books. How was I supposed to write what I wanted and do well in school?

After a bachelor's degree came an LDS mission to Spain, a teacher's license and a master's degree, a husband, a teaching career, and three sweet little boys. Those things took up all my time and energy; how was I supposed to write?

I'd write a little. A poem or two here. A chapter or two of a novel there. I wanted to write. I yearned to write. It's what I needed to do in order to be truly whole. But I never really dedicated real time to the endeavor. It was something I wanted to do--when I had the time.

Then, in the summer of 2009, just a couple of months after TSH's deployment, Chris Crowe talked to us about his writing process. What I took away from his presentation was this: If you really, and I mean really, want to write, you will do whatever you have to to in order to write. You will make the time to write.

No excuses.

When Chris Crowe had a young family and was teaching high school full time (and maybe even after when he became a professor as well), he would get up at 4 o'clock in the morning to write!

4 o'clock in the morning!

In the months following that presentation, I thought about that. I started writing more. My TV was turned on a little less. In fact, now, my TV viewing time is so much shorter than my book-writing and book-reading time.

Last year, in November, Amy Jo and I decided to do NaNoWriMo. And it was hard. TSH was still gone and the time I had to write was in the evenings after my children had eaten dinner and done their homework and gone to bed.

But it was totally worth it.

What did I really learn from NaNo last year? I learned that I did have the time to do everything I needed to do and to spend some serious time writing.

So Chris Crowe and NaNoWriMo are to blame for what I've done: One NaNo novel partially completed (70,000 words and counting), another NaNo novel in the works right now, and the first draft of another novel completed in 6-7 months.

What was really holding me back, I discovered, wasn't not having enough time. Instead it was my idea of what I needed to be a successful writer.

I don't need a great computer and a nice desk; all I need is my netbook with an old version of Word and a placed to sit and write (preferably my bed or someplace quiet with yummy treats).

I don't need 8 hours a day to write. I need whatever time I can scrounge up.

I do need friends who write and family members who support me. And I have those.

How about you? How have you faced your fears and conquered your dragons this year?


Teri Anne Stanley said...

Perfectionism is my foil. I am so waste my time on something that might end up "not good enough" that I am paralyzed and unable to start. NaNo if giving me the push to just let it all out. And boy, is it getting out there! Kind of like mental diarrhea, but it's getting out there!

Nicole said...

Nope, fears not conquered. I still struggle with the "I don't have time" demon. My excuse is that if I force myself to write it will start to feel like "one more thing I have to do" and then I'll end up hating it. And I don't want to hate it. So then I just don't do it. I know, weak excuse. But it's mine, for now. I know, I know. Slay the dragon already!

Ann said...

This is super inspiring.

I find that although I've written for a long time, I still have long periods where I DON'T write. I think I'm going to. I mean to. But by the end of the day I haven't. And it does get back to fear--fear, as Teri Anne says--rooted in a desire for perfection.

I'm also afraid that because I HAVE published, people expect me actually to be good, and I guess at a certain level I'm afraid they'll discover I'm a fraud . . .

So! There you have it!