Okay, so first of all, this post was bizarrely popular on my old blog. Second of all, it can be applied to many, many things other than writing. Hmm, maybe the two are connected. Anyway. Post. Enjoy.
A thought has struck me – as thoughts are wont to do.
Motivated by said thought, I re-examined my writing stats spreadsheet; and the thought was affirmed.
It’s a curious one, somewhat paradoxical. Un-intuitive. And it might not work for everyone.
But wow! It works for me, and I’m glad: it’s made things much less stressful, now the pressure’s off.
So what’s the thought, I hear you wonder.
It’s something that I was, for a long time, afraid of. You see, although I called myself a writer – I wasn’t really sure. I didn’t know that I could do it, not in my heart of hearts. And I wasn’t sure it was what I wanted; and I couldn’t be certain about why I did it.
And so, for a long, long time, I laboured under the fallacy that if I admitted that it didn’t actually matter when I got published, the motivation to write would vanish – zip! – like that.
But here’s the thought:
It doesn’t actually matter when I get published. No one else in the world cares if I get published or not. And not being published isn’t going to kill me, or make me a Bad Person, or worse, a Failure.
And here’s the stunning part: I’ve admitted this, at long last, and I’m not actually dead. And neither is my writing. And neither is my motivation to write.
Even more than this, I have statistics to support the conclusion that when the pressure’s off – the pressure to polish, to get the novel ready to submit, to work to a deadline, to force myself to write when I don’t feel like it because that’s what writers do– my productivity actually goes up (an expected 30% this month over the previous two Septembers).
Who knew? 😛
I’ve been having a tremendous amount of fun with writing lately, not forcing myself to commit to any one project, but letting the Muse wander spontaneously. I’ve got more ideas brewing than ever, I’ve worked through some major plot problems in a few stories, and I’ve written no less than three flash fictions in a week – when I’d written a total of one in my life before. I have – for me – a record number of things out on submission, and I’m not feeling stressed about my writing. It’s fun.
I’m not feeling blocked – or when I am, there’s no pressure on me to break the block and solve the problem now; I just hop over and work on something else, and every time thus far a solution has arrived of its own volition within a week. I’m not stressing, I’m not panicking, and I’m not beating myself up because I haven’t met my word count goals for the day.
And, contrary to my expectations, all of this hasn’t made me less determined to write: in fact, just the opposite. I’m more determined than ever that I will one day publish novels, in the plural. But I’m also more willing to wait for that time to come.
So I can’t work from home next year. Big deal? I will, believe it or not, live. Things will work out; they always do. And in the meantime, so long as I keep doing something, I’ll win out in the end: sometimes quantity trumps quality after all.
It’s long been known that fear is a barrier both to creativity and success.
So join me in being radical: what do you fear? Why does it matter? How can you change your approach – your attitude, your practices, whatever – so relieve some of that pressure that we as writers inevitably put on ourselves?
Go on. Change something. Be daring.
You just never know what the results will be 🙂