Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG and Writing for the Love of It


Hello and Happy March! Today's the day for the monthly meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, brought to you by our Ninja founder Alex J. Cavanaugh. To see Alex's co-hosts for today, view the list of members, or sign up for the group yourself, visit the IWSG page here.

I've realized recently that over the past year and a half I've spent far more time talking about writing and thinking about writing than I have actually writing. As a result, except for my Baby Moo stories, I haven't written anything I've liked in two years now.

My problems seemed to start when I became obsessed with getting more books published, and convinced myself that I had to write a long series so that I could get at least one book out every year. When my focus became getting published, I didn't enjoy writing and I couldn't even come up with story ideas that I liked. Everything I wrote felt forced.

Before I knew it, writing, or more accurately, the lack thereof, became a source of anxiety and frustration. I've struggled with anxiety and depression many times in my life, and writing was one of the few things that always helped me come out of those periods. Yet somehow it all got turned upside down.

I started thinking about my first stories and how much I loved writing them. I realized I wanted to feel that way again, and was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite books, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do---the actual act of writing---turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.

This quote struck a chord with me the first time I read it, and it does so even more now.

I've started a new story, and I've realized once again how much the act of writing means to me. I love bringing life to characters that exist only in my head. I love writing dialogue. I love when a scene comes together so perfectly it makes me grin from ear to ear all the while my fingers tap away on the keyboard.

It's been a pleasure to rediscover the reward of writing, without worrying about publishing or marketing. That will come in time. But for now I just want to write because I love doing it.

I want to write because writing makes me happy. And as Lucy said, that's a helluva start. :)





43 comments:

  1. I know how you feel. I've not written anything in a year either. It's easy to become consumed by what will be a successful published book.

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  2. So glad you are enjoying the writing again just for the act of writing. Although I don't write stories right now, I love writing every day for my job. I love the writing process too and am glad I get to do it for so much of my day.

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  3. Good for you! So true, so true. I do love the act/art of writing, despite the negative responses I get to the actual 'writing'. :)
    Conquering it one step, or is that comma, at a time.

    I just shelved something I put my heart and soul into, probably because the subject matter is just too tough right now. Maybe later, never know - tomorrow is a new and exciting day!
    Can't wait to see more!

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  4. Yes! Love this, Julie, and I'm so happy to hear you're getting your writing groove back. :)

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  5. Yes yes yes and yes, Julie. That is how I feel as well. I write because it makes me happy. And it's why I'm self-publishing because I don't want to get caught up in the query/agent/publication mud. I want to retain the joy. Love that quote so much. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Publishing has never been my goal, though it's a nice cherry. It's always been about writing. Glad you found the words again!

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  7. Yay for getting excited again!

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  8. I hear you! It's so easy to get down about the publishing game, and I think it's a rite of passage, that moment where you truly despise publishing and all in entails. The true joy really is in the writing. =)

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  9. "...publication is not all it is cracked up to be. But writing is." So true. I forget this sometimes. Writing is relaxing and enjoyable. Trying to get published is not. After contributing to a wonderful new anthology, "I'm Still Me After All These Years" (Thank you for the opportunity Karen Walker!) I realized I'm too old to force myself to do things I don't like and too young to quit doing the things I love. I write. When the urge hits, I self-publish. The rest of the time, I read as much as I can. Growing old can be so liberating!

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  10. Oh, the publishing and agent side of things take ages!! At least with writing we can control something. That's why I aim to write everyday:)

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  11. I love this, writing for the sake of writing because you love it. I believe that is so important because writing for any other reason will still your joy and rob you of a unique experience.
    Great post..
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat

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  12. Wonderful quote! I hate forcing my writing into a certain box. It's hard to remember that publishing is not a race, and writing is an art.

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  13. I've always wanted to get a novel published. (Traditionally, so I haven't gone self-pub route.) But knocking on doors is discouraging and definitely not fun. Lately, I've found I enjoy writing short stories and I'm having some success placing them in anthologies or other publications. It's making it harder to focus on the whole novel thing. Maybe I should change directions.

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  14. I remember years ago loving the act of writing too. I think that's why my passion came through. Now I'm struggling to get this back. It's been a narrow and bumpy ride. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  15. That it is! Love that quote. Keep on doing what you love, because I love your stories too. :)

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  16. Well done Julie - you've sussed it out and got writing again ... those other things will intefere - always a fact of life, but writing your stories is your life ... so go for it ... Baby Moo et al ... cheers and good luck - Hilary

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  17. It seems a bit like publishing takes the fun out of writing. I'm glad you found your joy again!

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  18. I love Bird by Bird—it's such a great book, and immensely quotable!

    That Lucille Ball quote is great, too. I participated in an author forum a few months ago, and the question about sales and whatnot came up. I was the odd author out because I honestly don't care about that. My goal is to write books that I love, that I can be proud of, and only that. And when I get distracted from that goal (by marketing, or sales, or my lack thereof), that's when it's not fun anymore. So I'm trying not to do that. Of course, some days are more successful than others. :)

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  19. How exciting about the new story! Glad it's helped rekindle your love of writing. I know too well how hard it can be to recapture that kind of happiness, especially since it's so easy for creativity to become a chore after a while. Have fun writing!

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  20. I hear what you're saying, Julie. That's part of why I took February off. I'd forgotten the fun in writing and I needed to return to that experience.

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  21. Well said, Julie. I also recently started writing again, simply because I enjoyed it. Publication has to take a backseat for now. Also, by keeping my life as stress-free as possible, helps me battle the anxiety and depression. When I have that under control, the writing comes to me a bit easier. Wishing you lots of writing time and inspiration.

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  22. What a fantastic post to read. It really did my heart good to see for you. I'm like you, I do a lot of my writing because it's a great form of therapy. It's freeing. I'm so happy you found your groove again.

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  23. I've felt something similar, I think, not really enjoying writing anymore (but also not enjoying NOT writing). I'm trying to be more easy going with my writing and just do it because I enjoy it and want to get the story out of my head, not think so much about an end goal until it's actually finished.

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  24. I know what you mean. The publishing and marketing part of the deal sometimes makes me want to cower in a cave and growl like a trapped animal.

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  25. Despite the fact that I grew up hating to write, I now love to write fiction because I love creating worlds. I just wish I could write faster so that I could move on to another world sooner.

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  26. I'm so glad you found a way of looking at writing that helps you feel free. I used to force myself to try to find commercial ideas and to write faster. Never worked. I just got depressed at my lack of progress. It's very true that authors should write for themselves first.

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  27. That's a great quote Julie. I understand where you're coming from and I'm not even published yet! There is a lot of pressure on writers these days, one needs to step back and think about why they became a writer in the first place. That's what I'm doing - taking the time to enjoy the journey and worry about the destination later. Glad to hear you're writing again! :)

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  28. Oh I'm so happy for you! I love this post!

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  29. A beautifully worded lesson for us all. Sometimes I know I'm forcing it too and that's not fun.

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  30. Funny how approaching writing to publish changes your relationship with it. I experienced that a bit although I have not published, but I have noticed I don't enjoy it in the same way. I'll need to give it some thought about how to recapture that for myself.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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  31. I love Bird by Bird! Best of luck with your new story. Glad you are feeling the joy!

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  32. Wow! What an inspirational post, Julie!!

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  34. I know what you mean. It's amazing how much marketing can get in the way of writing. I find the key is to keep it fun and then the writing will flow again:)

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  35. I love this, Julie. Writing is the best part of books (well, except when I get to read someone else's).
    Happy, happy writing!

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  36. Man, that resonates. I'm currently embarking on the publishing path, and have only published two shorts. I'm hoping to publish at least 2 novels this year since I have 2 in the finishing stages, but even that feels ambitious to me! The focus definitely changes when it's not about just writing and the act of writing a fun story, but about publishing and making it "perfect" (even though I know it won't be perfect).

    Anyway, I hope you rediscover your love of writing! I know it can be difficult, especially when there is a schedule or a deadline. Good luck!

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  37. I know what you mean, Julie! There's so much pressure to keep publishing that the writing seems to get buried beneath all the other stuff an author is told to do. After I published my first novel-length work, I wrote very little for over a year. I had to remember writing came first. It was my happy place--the art of creation. The rest I can do. Or not. It's up to me. We all write at our own pace, and that's fine. :)

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  38. Great idea Julie. It's good to love whatever you do so that your passion shows in your work.

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  39. Julie, I'm so glad you found the joy of writing again. It will show in your work. If you love what you do, readers will, too. Even if you write for yourself (not for publication), enjoy the ride.

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  40. Great post. I have a friend (Marcia Butler) who just got a memoir published - The Skin Above Her Knee. She was a professional oboeist. Either the book is fabulous (which I'm hearing is true - going to start reading today) or she has a ton of connections (or both). She has been reviewed by the New York Times and other big magazines. She's doing a reading tour. Now, as I approach the end of hopefully the final rewrite of my novel, I kind of feel like small press would be better for me right now. Less stress. Less light shining directly at me. The thought of being in her shoes makes me uncomfortable. But I love the writing. Love it. Can't not do it.

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  41. I kind of went through the same thing. I put off writing the third book in the series because it felt intimidating. That only lasted a few weeks but it was honestly frightening. Then I worked on some short stories, rediscovered my mojo, and I'm back at it!

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  42. Love the quote. So happy you're rediscovering what makes you happy. Keep going :)

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  43. Bird By Bird is one of the craft books that I need to read. I must make a note to purchase a hardcopy/paperback and add it to my physical library.
    Glad you've got your mojo back!
    *waving*

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Thank you for your comments!