The 5 Major Mind Melts of A Writer
As a 20-something woman, I have forged through many preconceived notions about running, marriage, citizenry, tradition, education, history, America, and my own past. I continue to shed unhealthy misconceptions and open my heart to the billions of truths we encounter. The most intimidating obstacle, the longstanding wound on the flesh of my mind, is writing.
While I had temporarily figured out the whole running thing for myself, I wanted to find out if I could apply similar principles to writing that I apply to running. Turns out, writing is a whole other thing. I don’t trust myself enough to sit down and just do it, the same way I can just go to the gym for a run. Why is that? If you, too, struggle with any of these writing hangups, come along with me and we’ll see if we can figure it out.
1. I’m Waiting For Writing To Feel Like Youth
When I was young, I could sit down at the computer and write for hours, without questioning anything about dialogue, the fantasy world, character flaw and depth, or other novel writing building blocks. It felt magical, to sit down and just imagine whatever I wanted, the stories pouring from my mind to the keyboard and onto page after page on the screen. My time as a young writer, when I escaped my hectic and stressful world through creating another world, is over. I cannot regain the “easy” writing experience of the past. Today is about what it means to be a writer today.
The exciting part is that I can experience different parts of human life that will renew and invigorate my writing in a way I truly never could have experienced as a child. To wait for my youthful writing lust to return, that endless outpouring of creation without discipline or detail, would be my downfall. Writing as an adult will be its own beast, and I need to accept it.
2. I Wait To Be “Good Enough”
I recently had a writing professor I studied under years ago visit me at work. She reiterated to me that I am a talented writer who lacks the discipline to finish something, because I am uncertain of myself. I lack the confidence to invest the discipline. This was encouraging, but also discouraging because it truly took away my excuse, “I’m not good enough.”
I will always wish I could be a better writer. That principle is good enough. Now I have to try harder. I will not produce anything good as an adult until I write. I cannot expect to be Wondergirl just because I used to be able to whip out a poorly written novel in a month.
I am a different person now, in wonderful ways, and I should capitalize on that.
3. I Wait To Be The “Perfect Writer”
This goes hand in hand with #2. I will never be a perfect writer. There is no such thing. I cannot expect this of myself, or the pressure to be “perfect” will give me another reason to procrastinate and feel stressed.
Do not give yourself the excuse. No one is perfect, no one ever has been.
4. I Wait For The “Right Environment”
If I have a vivid, fresh idea, why would I wait five hours till I’m done with my day jobs so I can write in the “right environment”? My idea is spoiled by then, and the in-the-moment emotions I could have used for my writing are gone.
If you have consistent ideas at work, just carry a notebook with you and quickly jot down your thoughts when you have a second. There is no right environment for writing. A writer writes. We can do it anywhere, and we get the best results when we observe the sights, smells, and sounds live rather than retroactively. For natural writers, it does not make sense to quash the part of oneself that is compelled to creative output.
As for me, I need to just write whenever I feel I should.
5. I Wait For The Right Time To Be Honest
There are two things that are hard to be honest about when you write for real: family members, and your own bad decisions.
Family is one of the most powerful deterrents for young writers who still get along with their families, including me. How am I supposed to recount and tap into the chaos of my early life, if my parents, childhood friends, and other adults are going to be offended? Parents and siblings especially, are hard to write about. Instead, we hold off because we are unsure what the reaction would be.
It is my life. It is my writing. It is my perspective, even if the family who I grew up with disagrees with the conception of my experience. Be fearless about recounting your familial encounters. Those are the nurturing (or not) bonds that make us who we are in a lot of ways. It is our right to explore those emotions and experiences through writing, even if there is a risk that someone else might not show up in the best light.
When it comes to my life, and my own decisions, I may not show up in the best light either. But part of that is letting go of that view of perfectionism, which is its own monster. No writer who writes honestly about their experience is going to tell you they did it all right, and if they did it probably doesn’t make a good story. The best stories are about failure. Every story has a moment where the main character has to pick themselves up and brush off their bad moment or bad choice.
So there I have my 5 Hangups. Please join me with your thoughts and comments about your own hangups, these ones, and what your experience with writing has been. Together we can defeat them.