For me, the biggest hurdle to overcome in the creative writing process is learning to respect my own creativity, regardless of how outlandish it may appear.
I’m in the process of: a) learning how to trust my instincts as a story teller, b) allowing my intuition to unlock fascinating story concepts, and c) then unleashing my writing style to create the story at hand.
But most days, I find myself sub-consciously (until I realize I’m doing it, that is) second-guessing my own sanity. I even go so far as to find “necessary” things to preoccupy my time so I have no excuse but to procrastinate on writing my story.
I’ll clean the house, pick up two or five DIY projects, suddenly need to do three workouts a day, realize I need to right now, this very second, catch up on all of Westworld, and then still convince myself I have to reorganize my closet before I bother writing a thing because if I don’t, I won’t do it later, and then I just have a dirty closet and a silly little story.
And so, today, as I found myself perched on the edge of my seat, fingers prepped over my keyboard, ready to let all creative hell loose into a fresh Scrivener document, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when my unwanted mental sidekick power-slammed into my thoughts and declared that I, T.N. Williams, am ridiculous and a story about the vengeful, murderous daughter of a Santa Claus who was killed during the Cold War, is asinine.
HELLO, MY NAME’S TIFFANY, AND I GREW UP BEING TOLD THAT ARTISTIC PURSUITS WERE A WASTE OF TIME
At the end of the day, this all comes down to a poor mindset for appreciating creativity.
I, like most of us, was raised being told that creative pursuits were a waste of time, wouldn’t make a decent living, and ultimately do very little to make the world a better place.
I was raised to believe that becoming something like an accountant served more purpose than becoming a novelist, so I often find myself feeling foolish when I express any creativity.
But I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to make people happy. I like to crack jokes, even at my expense, just to lighten the mood. I put a high value on being able to brighten someone’s day, through solid advice or tomfoolery alike. So why, then, do I persist in falling victim to shoddy mental rhetoric that I don’t agree with?
WHY DO I ALLOW MYSELF TO FEEL SILLY WHEN WHAT I SHOULD FEEL IS POWER OR PRIDE?
I went into today with the plan to produce five chapters for my novel, Snowe Storms; I came out of it with one chapter that I spent most of my time second guessing.
Why do I do this? Why do we do this?
I highly value the story I’ve come up with simply because it entertains the fuck outta me, so why do I still fall into old cesspools of negativity?
Because I forget to remind myself that my value exists in my individuality and that I, unlike so many others, am CHOOSING to express my individuality through creative writing, while others may choose sports, or math, or science.
We forget to remind ourselves that the very things that make us uniquely us are things that we should celebrate, not lament.
Not everyone can write a novel.
Even more important though, is that not everyone wants to.
So if you find yourself on this site, or any other, scrounging for ways to get your novel written, take a moment (if you struggle with self-confidence at all) to remind yourself why you want to write this book in the first place.
Me? I want to write Snowe Storms because I think it’s a funny, interesting, reasonable story that, were I to see on a shelf in Barnes & Noble, I would’ve bought ten times over by now.
DESPITE THE SHIT-TALKING NORMAN INCESSANTLY NAGGING ME, HOW DID I FINISH UP MY FIRST DAY IN THE WRITER’S TRENCH?
Welp, I didn’t bust out five sloppy chapters as was my plan. Instead, I threw down one sloppy chapter that I’m still not sure is good enough to keep around.
BUT, I did take note of a few mental hiccups that keep my internal Norman negatively one step ahead of me.
As I prepare for my next day of being hunkered down in the Writer’s Trench, I keep referring to this list to help build some mental fortitude before Norman comes bulldozing out tomorrow, as he does every time I sit down to write fiction.
1. FIRST DRAFTS ARE LIKE PENCIL OUTLINES ON A CANVAS: EVEN DA VINCI HAD THEM, AND EVEN THOSE LOOKED BAD
I get really tense when I write first drafts because it’s not good enough!!! So tomorrow, I’m going to chill and let whatever comes out flow freely onto the page without discrimination, correction, or disappointment.
2. WITHOUT THE CREATIVE MINDS THROUGHOUT HISTORY, OUR WORLD WOULD BE BLEAK
Seriously. Take out all of the artistic expressions throughout history and you’re left with war, famine, domination, and strife. Art gives the world happiness. Art is a loving gesture towards your own life’s beauty and sharing that with the world helps everyone else see how beautiful life can be. My ability to create a story is a reflection of my love for the world’s potential.
3. MY NORMAN IS TRYING TO PROTECT ME FROM JUDGEMENT, BUT PERHAPS I SHOULD PROTECT HIM FROM COWARDICE
Our internal negative Norman’s are not evil; they’re trying to project us from painful emotions, like being judged or feeling stupid. But maybe, just maybe, I should turn the table on that concept and strive to protect my Norman from missing out on life’s splendor. My Norman’s cowardice in the face of judgement makes it so I feel scared; perhaps, instead, I should sympathize with my Norman and start asking, “why are you so afraid of being yourself?”
Do you run into mental barriers when you sit down to write fiction?
When you dip into the Writer’s Trench, what do you feel? Are you at all stunted by your own negative Norman? And what does he say to hold you back?
Can you reframe your perspective so every time Norman tries to stop you, you spin around and address Norman’s own fears? Fill me in! We’re all working through Noveldom in our own ways, but perhaps your insights can help me out too.