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Monday, January 28, 2013
12:00 AM | Posted by MsHellion | | Edit Post
I’m a full-time member and a part-time President (because I’m so busy) of the Procrastinator’s Club. As a member, it is difficult for me to actually pinpoint when I’m truly working. Being the ancestor of Scots, I tend to have a very narrow definition of “hard work” when it comes to my writing. I know I’ve been working hard on my manuscript by the following:
- I wrote 20 pages in a 4 hour period
- I began the book and finished it in the same session.
- I revised the whole book in one sitting
Being none of these actually ever happen in a writing session for me, it’s clear I never consider myself as working hard on my manuscript. I could have always been doing more…better and faster and with less complaint. If I didn’t bleed to death all over the page or worse, if I had fun, I was not working. In fact here is a short list of things I believe if you’re doing, you’re not working hard at actually writing.
- Staring into space
- Reading a book
- Pre-writing a scene
- Making a list of possible scenes, character goals, et al, in order to help you think what should be coming next in your book
- Talking about your book with CPs or random strangers who stupidly stopped long enough to ask you if something was wrong
- Taking up another hobby: quilting, beading, crocheting, drawing, painting, baking—if I’m listing them, I have done them
- Reading craft books—this is deceptive because it’s not a fun book, but a work book
- Napping (or if you’re one of those writers: exercising)
- Deleting the last ten pages of your manuscript because you realize it’s all wrong
Writers are uber-critical of their efforts. This is not news. And it’s also not news that constantly criticizing our efforts only sends us into a death spiral of continually not working on our projects, because after all, what is the point. You’re never going to finish it; and even if you did, no one will want it.
I’m not sure if it’s our perverse natures trying to keep our hopes from being too inflated—that if we “keep it real” we won’t be disappointed if it comes true. There is true irony in this. For one, even when we’re keeping it real, we’re using the word “IF” instead of “when”; and for two, you’ll be disappointed either way, so what are you actually preventing? Nothing. You’re just giving yourself an ulcer and more reasons not to get out of bed in the morning.
We already have enough stress in our lives to allow our writing to become something even more to stress about, especially when we’re giving false labels to what actually constitutes success, hard work, or legitimate reason for praise. Life is hard enough without labeling yourself with narrow definitions for, well, everything. And if you’re narrowly labeling your efforts in writing and creativity, it’s a 100% likely you’re narrowly labeling other things in your life: your love life, your worth as a person; your efforts to be healthy and happy; your place in the world, etc, etc, etc.
That shit needs to stop.
So this week, I’m going to work on broadening my labels for what constitutes working on my story and also having more compassion for myself in all things. We could all use more kindness: with ourselves, our loved ones, our writings in progress, and life in general.
What is one of the things you need to stop right now? And what is something you will do this week to be kinder to yourself (or your writing)?