Lack of discipline leads to frustration and self-loathing. ~ Marie Chapian
There has been a lot of self-loathing on my part these days (read weeks, months). I have stalled - for many reasons including rejection, what feels like pie-in-the-sky goals, revisions that never seem to work, and basically a lack of self-confidence. I have even stopped calling myself a writer.
So, it's not surprising that I have actually stopped writing. Oh, I talk writing. I write daily blog posts. And I'm working on a weekly instalment serielized story. All of which I do not consider a writing practice (practice, yes - a writing lifestyle, no).
Hayley referred to an article a couple of weeks ago and I also highlighted it on my blog (What Took You So Long?) Obviously, it has had a serious impact on me. One of the sections that really hit home talked about quitting writing "one day at a time". I understand that intimately. I have quit many things in my life - one day at a time.
The most glaring example of this tendency was my running practice. About six years ago I was a runner - worked my way up to running every second day. And I love it! Then, one day I didn't run. Then another week, I missed two scheduled runs. Next thing you know, I had quit running one day at a time.
Now, I'm trying to get back into running and let me tell you it's hard. I get mad when I can't finish an 8K run knowing that six years ago, 10K was easy. But I'm focused and I have a goal - a half marathon in October.
Ooh, a tangible goal! Don't get me wrong - I have a goal for my writing: publication. But it's not tangible. It's pie-in-the-sky!
And now it's a lot easier not to write. Come on - anyone out there going through the same thing I am? I read blogs about writers struggling through, moving forward. Articles about goal-setting and meeting those goals. Stories of writers reaching that pie-in-the-sky goal. I sit in my office, laptop open, and feel like I'm the only one struggling. The only one not writing. They say writers are isolated and I can't agree enough. Then there's the fact that I talk writing - so added to the guilt of not writing, I'm also feeling like a fraud.
No, this is not a plea for compliments or words of encouragement. Sure, that's wonderful and strokes my ego, but it doesn't get me writing. In fact, after the euphoria of that ego boost, I feel worse because now I feel like I'm letting down more than just myself!
Yesterday, I considered walking away. In that amazing article, a woman actually gives up her painting, her passion, and feels so much better for it. No guilt! Go back to a life of normalcy instead of the frenetic life a creative artist tormented by her passion, guilt ridden by her lack of accomplishment, disappointed by her attempts. Boy, is that tempting because the energy expanded on being guilty of not following my passion, my gift, is (truth be told) exhausting.
Luckily, my good friend Hayley gave me much to consider in her comment on my blog yesterday. Here are some of her wise words:
All the cheerleading in the world doesn't help us sometimes. Sometimes we need guilt, anxiety, accountability to get moving and say "Screw this, I'm focusing on what matters most to me, and everything else can get the hell out of my way."
And anxiety seems to be a constant companion! A decision must be made - or I will drive myself crazy with the not writing. I have a little over two months until the marathon. On my calendar I have the runs I need to accomplish "Sharpied" in (no pencil marks here). I am hereby declaring the red Sharpie to be used for my writing practice. Screw this - writing matters TO ME! I don't know what to do with Lady Bells (or I don't know how to do it), so it's being shelved - and you have no idea how hard that is to declare (my heart is shouting 'NO', my stomach just heaved).
1. I will write 700 words 5 days per week (doable because that's what I usually bang out for my serielized story the night before it goes live) on a brand new story.
2. I will be accountable here and on my own blog.
3. I will re-evaluate my desire to continue to write on Oct. 6th (2 months).
4. I will call myself a writer and I will put writing first.
Wish me luck - and feel free to use the comment section to vent about your writing practice. I can tell you, just getting this down and off my chest is good medicine.