Being a writer is one of thee most maddening things I have ever done! For every project that I want to do, there are 4 others that spring up. They seduce me from the current work, and then I leave them–jilted and guilty –to return to the first love. Determined to finish what I started.
This is what writers do though, dear ones! We create! And in the fury of creating, we have these side loves that call to us. These things we start when the first love (read: current work) has us in a funky place with no way out. I mean, Octavia Butler wrote Fledgling as a side project because the other work she was writing was ‘too much’! Wri
Think about your word choice: what you say, how you say it.
Remember they story–good or ill–belongs to you. All words done or crafted by you.
Writing is equal parts bravery and calamity! There is portion of you which will have to be brave enough to verbally admit what you have only whispered. Then there is the personal shock (aka ‘the calamity’) which happens when you begin to write something–you become shocked at how this is coming together.
Be ruthless with the talent, my fellow Oracles. There is a power in it. What power is that you ask? The power in knowing what you have on the inside of you is itching to come through your hands, because it has been boiling your head so long.
It is–it will be–scary and exhilarating and the journey is yours.
The words will never just appear out of the ether. You have to chase them. You may have to fight for them. You may even have to chase their shadows from dreams you have. But be relentless, dear Oracles.
The words are there–but you may have to reach a little longer or further to get them.
I try and make a habit of looking through my Draft-Drawer once a season, normally this happens with the speed of Fall and Winter. Then, I have time–I think–to sit and reflect on what I didn’t do when it was warmer and life was more demanding. From that vantage point, I always think such explorations are fun, not traumatic.
However, it is rare I come across an idea that shocks me–I mean it did come from my own imagination…how crazy could the idea be? But there have been times (quite recently here) where I will come across a work I abandoned–because I was simply too scared to finish it.
Yes–scared to finish it. There was a wall. I was scared, and the thought of finishing that work felt like jumping out of a plane. With that acknowledgement, I dissected that feeling. Consider this your wrecking ball.
The Wall. Oh my! How familiar is this feeling? When you find a work you once poured yourself into–and lose it, only to find it again? It is like finding a lost child. You are relieved, you are happy and you are irritated (read: angry) if was ever lost!
Yet, you want to put it back. You want to unsee what you saw. You don’t want to remind yourself of what you gave up on. There is a mental wall erected! You can feel it more than you can see it. Do not run from this feeling. This is the start of breaking the wall. Baldwin himself said that nothing can be changed unless it is faced. Face the wall. No flinching. Flinching leads to fear.
The Fear. What is the thing (there is always a thing!) that is stopping you from picking it back up? This is the feeling you get when you think about finishing that project. That procrastination. That hesitation and excuses. That feeling of ‘I would rather clean toilets than write this’. That fear is a paralytic rather than a rocket fuel. Once you identify what it is–write through it. This means –yes!–write scared. Once you work the fear, it goes away. The more you right, the less it will scare you. But you have to write.
Jumping Out The Plane. Simply put? Finish it. What you have found, what drew your eye and attention, finish it! Let the characters find their exit, their punishment, reward or happily ever after. Writing is an extreme sport sometimes–so get to it! The free fall is crazy, because you don’t know where you will land. Your imagination is the rip cord and parachute. You can do it! You can finish it! Jump!
There is a power to breaking that wall, fellow Oracles. There is a power in confronting the fear, dear ones. Get your parachute (your work in progress or incomplete draft), and jump out the plane.
*The 3 F’s of Writing will be tradmarked through JBHarris Writing Services. Look for this book to be released in May 2020 under Divinity Publishing. Thank you! -JBHarris
Avoid the frenzy.
In looking through your draft-drawer, it can be completely overwhelming! Utterly overwhelming! It can be discouraging. It can be nerve-racking! This space–if not put in the proper perspective–can look like a graveyard for your imagination. Which, no lie, can make any writer feel like a complete failure! Or it can lead to what I call ‘the frenzy’.
This is the feeling where you think you have to do everything all at once. This feeling robs you of the weapon that is creative energy. It forces you into a space of panic and doubt–a paralytic for any writer! This is the feeling you have when you feel that you cannot complete anything you have found–which is incomplete. This is also the feeling you have when you believe there is too much in front of you to try and complete what you have found–that is complete.
Conquer ‘the frenzy in three steps (the 3 F’s of Writing)’
Forgiveness. Life is hard. Writing even harder. Accept that what you have in front of you is not burdens, nor the sum total of them. They are opportunities. Wisdom dictates that you never squander them. Everything cannot be done at once–but one thing can be done. Choose wisely.
Focus. There are only 24 hours in a day. No more. No less. With the demands of your time, whatever those are, you have to be generous with yourself. The tool to develop as you take the challenge to complete a writing project is time-management. Dedicate a set day or time to work on what you have you decided to work on. Your work day will be–should be–unique to your needs. Whether this is a specific word count, page count or sprint (writing as much as you can in a set time (as few as 10-minutes or as long as 2 hours; it’s up to you!). Time can be enemy and ally. Make it an ally.
Faith. All writing is an act of complete faith. You are taking something which has only existed in your mind, and taking it –by force!–to a physical media. It’s scary! It is traumatic in some cases! But it is not impossible. Bear in mind that, every work is written one word at a time. One day at a time. One minute at a time. It can be done. It is not overwhelming, and it will not overtake you. Some days are easier than others, yes. On these days, the writing is a joy! On other days, it can feel like Sisyphus. But unlike the myth, the writer–you!–can make it to the top of the mountain. Letter by letter, word by word. If it helps, remember the words of the Little Engine That Could: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
If you are, you shouldn’t be. You already know what it is there–whatever you placed there in the light, was there when there was no light. Today, I want you to turn on the light. I want you to realize the things you create and may have stowed away aren’t scary.
The only scary thing is when you decide nothing you create is worth looking at.