I am writing my second novel, but it feels like I’m not actively writing it most of the time. I prefer blog posts because I can take photos, write some shit, post it, and my task is done! Blog posts are my stream of consciousness, so I don’t have to work as hard. With a novel, my task feel arduous and never ending. I notice I lean more into my blog more regularly than I do with my novel. I’m wondering how to combine the two without giving too much of my novel away. I suppose I could post a chapter or a passage and get feedback? That feels very vulnerable.
A year or so ago, I tried forming a writing group as I know a lot of writers. The only interest I got was with one of my dear friends and coworkers. She kindly told me I overwhelmed her by sending her four chapters at a time when she sent me three pages of a story to give notes. I wrote my novel in blog format and not paragraph format (… duh?!), had a lot of consistency errors, and… quite a lot to feedback, you know? After that one session, we haven’t met again. She’s got so much going on in her life, so I completely get it. But I can’t help but wonder if I scared her off. I also didn’t provide great comments for her. That was when I realized writing is the most humbling experience. Presenting my not so well crafted words, a.k.a. my baby, to someone to rip to shreds. For me, it requires endless humility and reminders that it is a work in progress. And having readers who genuinely care about reading my potentially boring shit so much that they’d read several hundred pages of my blathering. This is a huge gift!
I joined my local writer’s group, (which costs money?!) but I can’t motivate myself to go. A friend of mine who was in the group at one time said they might not be kind, but they will be helpful. YIKES. I have yet to bring myself to interact with the group at all. Imposter syndrome peaks when I get into the depths of a novel. Will this bit make sense, should I clarify that sentence, does the year my futuristic novel setting make sense? There are so many things to chew on. I can see how writers easily run ourselves in circles and eventually in to the ground.
I’m at the point where I have about 65 Word pages which translates into many more book pages than that. I review what I previously wrote and completely forgot I wrote that section. Going back through my work gives me a boost of confidence for the simple fact that I have accomplished this much, and some of it isn’t bad. Another motivating force for me was reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living without Fear. This book is possibly one of my favorite non-fictions ever because I read it at the exact time in my life I needed it. I plan to buy a copy and mark it up like a bible, my creative bible. Gilbert answers many of my deepest questions about creating sustainably. In it she teaches that writing, or creating in general, doesn’t have to amount to the creator in a room battling their own demons to get the story out. What a miserable way to create. She personifies ideas as creative beings that interact with us like living things, because they are alive. Some ideas arrive fully formed and ready to be released into the world. Some ideas are more like whispers in the wind. Some stick with you for a while. Others leave you if you hold onto them too long with no progress. These ideas want to be borned (Juno, anyone?), and some are more patient than others. She writes about how controlling the outcome of your work severely limits what you can accomplish. Our work is also alive, so let’s let it be whatever she needs to be. Create just to create. It doesn’t have to be the Sistine Chapel to be worthy of creation. It can be a doodle, or writing silly haikus that no one will ever read. Go there. Trust your creativity. Most of it will be crap. Some of it will shine like the gems they are. It’s all part of the process. It’s all creating and it all has worth.
Moreover, I got the idea for my second novel while reading this book. After I read the last page and closed the cover, I — almost immediately — began writing my novel. I wrote for eight hours straight. I was in my flow, I had no idea what time it was or where I was. All I knew was I birthed a great foundation to my novel. And it was enthralling! Maybe I need to go back to the almighty Gilbert’s book to recapture some of that motivation. Maybe I need to stop focusing on blog writing and write my novel. For example, I am writing this instead of my novel, — hah! I know a writing routine is crucial, even when the creativity feels like it’s on a different continent. Keep creating, keep pushing.
With all that being said, I’m signing off and creating. Also, I cannot wait to share some of it with you. It’s my best work yet!
How do you keep yourself motivated to create?