“You must get comfortable with yourself, as you are and as you have always been.” From Fearless Writing by William Kenower
I have been slogging through working on my second novel and continuing to submit queries on my first novel when I realized I wasn’t enjoying myself. The activities feel forced and uninspired. I keep finding distractions that keep me from focusing on my writing.
The inspiration and enthusiasm that I felt a few months ago has slowly turned into a quagmire of over thinking, procrastination, and mental mush. When I realized I was thinking of my time writing as “slogging,” I realized I was in need of a reality check. Why, I asked myself, did I set out on this journey in the first place? What was my original intent? What did I want out of this? Do I still have that passion for the written word that I started out with?
As I untangled my thoughts and feelings I came to the conclusion that my passion hasn’t waned, but I have put myself on a path that is too linear. I have forced myself to look at my journey as a one way street – a path from which I must not stray or I will never reach the end. Most of my life this is how I have approached a challenge or a project. Here’s the project, there’s the end result I want, and here’s the path. There’s only one way to achieve success. My blinders are on to avoid distractions, my head is down, my sleeves rolled up, and my legs are moving forward. But I’m not enjoying the journey.
Writing is not the same as climbing a mountain top, or getting a promotion at work, or completing a puzzle. Writing, I have discovered, should not be linear. At least not for me. My thoughts are not linear – words swirl around my head constantly and I hop from one idea to another without worrying whether I completed the first thought. Yes, I do have a few end goals when it comes to my writing such as getting published one day. But this doesn’t mean I can only write one thing at a time.
Writing, for me, is very much like reading. I am usually in the middle of reading several different books and magazines because I enjoy reading variety. Right now I am reading Fearless Writing by William Kenower, several magazines, and a novel. I read for fun and enjoy reading various different things at any given time. I don’t lose my place, or get confused, or feel undisciplined when I do this. And as I have discovered, I enjoy writing in the same way.
I completed my first novel and feel good about that and I will continue to query agents, that goal hasn’t changed. I began my second novel because I had the idea. The idea is still there, but it needs some work and inspiration. In the meantime, a lot of other ideas have sprouted in my mind. These have been mostly ignored because I thought of them as distractions. I was forcing myself to think of my writing as something I should complete one book, story, or article at a time. I wasn’t allowing myself to consider other projects or to give these ideas life because I felt I needed the discipline to complete one thing at a time.
Having come to this realization I have given myself permission to let other thoughts and ideas through. I am committed to writing and now can’t wait to open my notebook and jot down the words that come to me each day. I have ideas for short stories, for a memoir and for a self-help book for Human Resource professionals. I have ideas for future books. I have re-discovered the joy of writing by giving myself permission to step off the path. And it feels great.