Writing craft development in session; blog posts intermittent.

Having a little writer’s angst lately.

Writing is supposed to be fun. Hard work, but fun. It’s not supposed to stress me out, or make me want to beat myself up. Yeah. I admit to a bit of negative self-talk lately. The Inner Critic, that little bitch, is alive and well.

Letterpress: Two Hearts, Veer Images

I love writing. Almost a year ago, when I made the commitment to writing, I was at this stage:  “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Total, blissful ignorance.

For a while now, I’ve been in the uncomfortable but critical stage of “You know what you don’t know.” I know just enough to know how ignorant I am and how much more I have to learn.

Once in a while I get glimpses of where I want to be: “You know what you know.” Mastery. Knowledge.

The sheer amount of knowledge I need gain is what makes the whole writing endeavor exciting, but sometimes overwhelming.

Overwhelming when I’m in the midst of edits to my first novel. I don’t know what I’m doing. My characters need a lot of work. I need to create and sustain conflict. I need to tease just enough, but not too much, to keep ‘em reading. My protagonist needs to experience a huge transformation. I need a more satisfying ending. I have so much work to do.

The more I learn, the more I know I can’t just focus on the craft of writing. If I ever want anyone to read my words, I have to learn the business. However, in my efforts to understand the business, I have been neglecting the craft.

I’m a newbie. I have so much to learn about the craft.  So what business do I have trying to immerse myself in the business of writing? I’m gone too far and have completely terrified myself: Reading blogs every evening, commenting, seeing just how much I need to learn and do.

As for building an online platform? I’m not ready for that yet. I don’t even have my product built.  I find myself neglecting the craft, and my WIP, to build a platform to nowhere. If my work sucks, a platform is pointless.

Starbucks decor: Love the colors!

This past Saturday, I had a much-needed boost to my inner writer. How? I had the perfect writing session.  It was afternoon, and I was home alone. My husband was out. The house was a mess. Despite the air conditioning being on, the house was stifling hot. I needed to escape. I went to our local Starbucks. The air was wonderfully cool. I asked the barista if the artwork on the walls was new. She said they had just finished redecorating two weeks ago. New paint, new furniture, new artwork. Nice. I found a table in the back corner and set up shop. Five hours later, I had made a decent dent in my WIP.  It felt like five minutes had gone by.

So I’m intentionally taking a break from the business and networking side of things and am going to truly focus on the craft.

Writing craft development in session; blog posts intermittent.

Have you felt overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of both the craft and business of writing?

How do you juggle the two?

What are your strategies when you feel overwhelmed?

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10 Comments

  1. When I started revising my first draft, I though my inner critic was going to kill me. I felt just as you did – like I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Then I realized that’s okay. In everything we learn, there must be mistakes, disasters, and moments of being completely lost. In order to get past that, we must “do.” Even if means falling flat on your face and making a mess of things. You’ll come out of the process more aware and full of knowledge you didn’t have before.

    I suppose the idea here is to just “let go” and be imperfect. 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks C.B. I’m revisiting Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” and it’s helping me work through this uncomfortable phase… Just gotta push through… : ) Just a bummer that sometimes the best way to learn is by making mistakes. Sometimes that’s the only way.

      Reply
  2. Hey, Natalie! I’m sorry to hear that you’re kind of down about this whole thing. I can tell that you really want to write and just enjoy it!

    I’m like you:Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by all that is required of writers these days. So also like you, I have to draw the line somewhere. For example, when the mood strikes me, I will invite other writes to connect with me on Facebook. I don’t use Twitter but I do also invite writers/agents/editors to connect with me on LinkedIn – although after we connect, that’s pretty much the extent of the relationship. For me, it’s about meeting other writers to learn about them and their experiences and from them and to learn about the business. I do my own research on the business, too, just because it fascinates me. But if that side of things isn’t that interesting to you, don’t worry about it. All you REALLY need to do is write a great story – that’s it, hands down. I read agents and marketing gurus and others all the time say that the single most important thing a writer can do to get his/her work out there and sold is to write something GOOD. So you’re right to be focusing on the craft now. I see people taking breaks from their blogs all the time to write. We have to use our time wisely – and when we feel creative, like you did at Starbucks, we need to make sure and write because we usually get some good stuff written when we’re really “feeling it.” And you’re right when you said there’s no need to have a platorm if we don’t have anything to use it for. It sounds to me like you’ve got your priorities right – so keep up the good work (and keep utilizing Starbucks – it sounds like that place works great for you! 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks for your encouraging words, Lauren! You know, if I hadn’t started this blog, I wouldn’t have met you, or C.B. (thank you both for your comments!) I LOVE that I’m connecting with other writers, and I don’t want to lose that. So I won’t be abandoning this blog anytime soon; I just need to keep it all in proper perspective. : )

      Reply
  3. daveterry

     /  September 1, 2011

    I love the feel of being in-the-zone. Sometimes I write nonsense but I find it is good practice. Later, when I really want to say something, the words seem to flow. I think it’s because I do this stream-of-consciousness thing when writing in my journal.

    My daily goal is 750 words, the equivalent of Julia Cameron’s “morning pages” only digital. I do write in an analog journal that I call “night pages.”

    (It’s strange I know. I haven’t meet anyone that keeps both digital and analog. But there it is.)

    I’m not published . . . yet, well except for the blog. But I just enjoy writing. I could write for days at a Starbucks, no problem.

    Love the pic.

    …dave

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comments, Dave – and thanks for visiting my blog!

      Being in the writing zone is sheer bliss, isn’t it? 🙂

      On analog vs digital morning pages… While Julia Cameron recommends handwriting morning pages, I just couldn’t do it. My handwriting hand cramps up almost immediately from lack of use! I like how my fingers can almost keep up with my brain when I’m typing. 🙂

      Keep up the good work – 750 words a day is great!

      Reply
  4. Hi, Natalie — I just stumbled upon your blog while searching NaNoWriMo writers in my town. Thanks for sharing your frustration, some of which I’ve experienced. When I decided two years ago that I wanted to renew my writing life, I didn’t have a clue about what to do or where to start. So I started a personal blog and just wrote about my family, friends, and faith. I dreamed about someday getting published and wondered how it ever could be, especially at my age. Overwhelming is the word. But earlier this year an idea came to me: Start a blog that shares with other writers what I learn as I pursue my goals. It took me a while to get going, but I finally launched the blog this month. I’m hoping it helps other writers like me who are newbies. My novel is only in its “great idea” stage, so for now I spend my time writing short stories, personal essays, and online articles. Your novel sounds terrific, though, so it’s great that you’ve decided to focus on it. I hope it all goes well for you.

    Reply
  5. Hi Darla – I’m so happy you stumbled upon my blog! Are you going to turn your “great idea” into a first draft during NaNoWriMo next month? There’s something magical about having a deadline and a word count goal to get great ideas on paper. It doesn’t have to be perfect. : )
    Check out my blogroll and other links at the bottom of this blog – great, great sites with incredibly valuable information for newbies. I think I have learned the most by reading the posts of Rachelle Gardner (a Christian literary agent) and have found lots of like-minded people who comment on her blog. Thanks for visiting; I’ll check out your blog too. : )

    Reply
    • Yes! I plan to use NaNoWriMo for the first draft, so we will see how that goes. I am inspired by the way you have your novel summarized on your Work in Progress page, and I’m now thinking of having something similar to that prior to November 1 — an outline or bullet list. I did start a new WordPress blog to use for NaNo that will be for my eyes only and enable me to write from any location. Since I have a full-time job, time is going to be at a premium!

      Reply
      • Darla, what a great idea to use WordPress to write your novel. You’ll have backup of your work without having to think about it.
        Last November, I didn’t have much of an outline when I started. Just a few key scenes in my head, and it totally grew from there. It was exhilarating. Emotional. Spiritual.
        50,000 words in 30 days is just 1,667 words a day. You’ll write lots of junk, but you’ll also uncover a LOT of gems. Surprising gems. You’re going to have a blast. : )

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