Tag Archives: self doubt

lost momentum

Pretend this is a horse...

A metaphorical horse. What do you mean ‘But that’s a cow’? It’s a HORSE.

The title of this post basically sums up my last week as far as writing goes. And just when it was all going so well!

It’s no coincidence though; when I put myself under pressure to write 20,000 words last month I rose to the challenge, got into the flow and did it. Then I decided I would only aim for 10,000 this month, thought ‘phew that’s much easier!’, took my foot off the writing accelerator and consequently seem to have ground to a halt. I’ve only written 3000 words since the start of the month.

And I haven’t even blogged that much; yes, I’ve taken part in some linkies (which I didn’t allow myself to last month as a creative-writing boosting tactic) but I don’t think I’ve actually written more posts.

Today I feel like I’ve hit a total writing slump. Everything I’ve been attempting to write is dire. My book is stuck on a freeze frame (my main character is poised on the side of her bed and I don’t have the words to move her) and a bit of flash fiction I’m attempting is so bad I want to cry. Yes, the self-doubt demon is back, and he seems to have sharpened his teeth while he was away.

I know that sitting ruminating/stressing about it isn’t really helping and I should probably just punch through it and get back on the horse. But the horse is currently in the next field looking twitchy as though the slightest movement would send him galloping in the other direction. If you see what I mean? (I’m not sure even my metaphors are working properly and I LOVE a metaphor!)

So the question is – do I take tonight off for beer and Breaking Bad and hope to kick start my creativity that way? Or do I hurl myself bodily over the fence into the field and grab the horse before he has the chance to react? Maybe I can ride him off into a beautiful sunset scattering perfect sentences in our wake…

Doesn’t feel like it though. Beer?

kicking the demon and climbing the mountain

tryptich 5At the start of May I set myself the challenge of writing the first 20,000 words of my novel in the space of a month. It felt like quite a mountain to climb as, what with three kids, work and life in general, I don’t have much free time.

My previous attempts at writing a book had stalled at around the 8,000 word mark and left me feeling a bit disheartened. I was really starting to doubt myself. Maybe I was destined to grind to a halt around chapter four of any first draft? Did I really have the required focus to write a whole book? Let alone get through the endless, necessary redrafts? And anyway, who said what I wrote would be any good anyway?

Self-doubt can be quite a crippling thing. I’ve described mine before as an ugly, squelchy, belchy demon who sits nearby lobbing insults at me. He’s stopped me writing before and used to make it almost impossible for me to EVER let ANYONE see what I had written. Blogging has helped me deal with some of this; kind of like throwing an old sack over his head so he’s not quite as visible as before and his voice is a bit more muffled. But I can still hear him (especially when he shouts) and I know he’s still there.

But self-doubt demons are not the sort of creature who should be listened to and I decided that what would help me give him a hearty kick was to set myself a writing target. I know what I’m like; I hate to be beaten, so it was bound to be a good motivator and a good reason to ignore my writing-nemesis.

It was a busy month and I thought at times that I wouldn’t manage it… but…

I DID! A few days ago I reached chapter ten and 20,223 words! I got a massive feeling of achievement and awarded myself a large gin. Oh ok, I was already drinking the large gin as I wrote.

I know there’s such a long way to go before I have a book that’s even close to finished. The first 20,000 words of the first draft really only gets me to the lower, grassy slopes of the novel-writing mountain and nowhere near the snow-capped peaks… but it’s something. And actually, right now, it feels like a big something.

And what’s even better is I seem to have lost Mr Squelchy Belchy Somewhere along the way. Oh it’s not permanent; he’ll be back to shout insults (and quite probably bite me… did I tell you he has huge yellow teeth?) but for now he’s a little way back on the mountain trail. So before he catches me up (and before I mix any more metaphors) I’m going to publish this post and get back to my writing!

I’m linking up with Magic Moments over at The Olivers Madhouse because hitting my target really was a magic moment for me this week!


the wall

20140519_124007If you’ve read my last few posts then you’ll know I’ve set myself a challenge to write 20,000 words of my novel this month. I don’t have much time to write, so it does feel like quite a big target to hit, but it has been going well. Or perhaps I should say it HAD been going well. By last Thursday we were half way through the month and had written 10,000 words. By the time I shut my laptop last night I’d written just under 13,000 in total. Good going.

But today I feel like I’ve hit the wall. I’m suddenly struggling with one of my characters – she’s a nineteen year old girl and I can’t get a handle on her personality at all and it’s bugging me. She’s not a main character, in fact she’s rather in the shadow of her mum, dads (the ‘s’ is deliberate) and brothers but I feel like if I make a shoddy job with her it’s going to undermine the reality of the book. Particularly as it’s a book that deals with alternative realities that is a huge problem. If the realities aren’t believable it all falls apart!

Then, as I’ve started struggling with the character of this teenager I’ve suddenly found myself doubting some of the other characters too. I’ve written a chapter involving one character that I’ve decided needs to be entirely re-worked because that’s not how he would have acted at all. In fact, he was reacting like another of the characters would have done; it’s like their personalties have got all tangled up.

Maybe this is one of the downsides of just throwing myself in to writing and seeing how it goes; I was bound to stumble here and there. I think that what I need is to pause and reflect but feel like I don’t have time. Next week is half term so (with three kids to entertain) my writing time will be even more limited. I’m also away for a few days at the end of the month so that period is going to be, by necessity, entirely writing-free. So I need to crack on if I’m going to write another 7000 words before the end of May!

So do I take the time to pause and work it out and risk not meeting my word target? My fear with doing that is that I could lose my momentum and my progress on my book could really stall…

Or do I push through it and write on regardless? I can sort out that chapter and the elusive teenager at a later date. My fear here is that I’ll meet the target but end up having to throw huge chunks of writing away anyway…

Hmmm. I guess that the whole point of setting myself this challenge is that I can learn from it. So I suppose I should push on and see where it gets me. Nothing ventured, nothing gained… I think?

writer’s block

 

Writer’s block

 

Wandering through words

and stumbling over syntax

I trudge the wreckage

of my city of stories.

 

Phrases are tumbleweed,

lost consonants toppling

abandoned vowels.

Sibilants soft in the air.

 

Grasping a few ideas I

cement them with reluctant words

and haltingly assemble

a new metropolis.

 

Then, stepping back

looking for glittering skyline

I sigh…

and head for dynamite.

 

Linking up with #Prose4T over at Verily Victoria Vocalises. Now off to attempt another rebuild…

Prose for Thought

pregnancy poem

I am dubious about writing poetry. It’s very difficult to get right and far to easy to get wrong, I always think. But despite this, and although I have never considered myself to be a poet or aspired to be one, I keep finding myself trying to write poetry. What’s that about, I wonder?

Anyway, with the coming of the frost recently I’ve found myself thinking about last winter when I was heavily pregnant with my now nine-month-old third-born son. I remembered that I wrote a poem trying to capture the vast uncomfortableness of my condition. So last night I found it and read it again. I grimaced. Then I tweeked it a bit and grimaced some more. Then I rewrote bits of it, grimaced, tweeked, re-wrote… and then lost all perspective.

So I thought instead of filing it away (which I am massively tempted to do) I would post it here. There’s not much point writing things if I just squirrel them away. So, without further ado, here is my slightly silly poem about late pregnancy.

 

Eight Months

I have a huge and heavy

Robust and wriggling belly.

I am anticipatory and trepidatory,

While waiting I grow weighty;

My swollen tummy ever growing,

My once-slim figure ever going,

Expanding skin now stretched so taut,

And oh, the expensive creams I’ve bought

To halt the marks and stop the itching

That heavy pregnancy’s inflicting.

 

And it’s not just that: my feet are fat.

I can’t sleep on my front or back,

In fact, I cannot sleep at all

Without a massive pillow wall

That wraps around my front and rear;

My poor old husband can’t get near!

 

And then there’s matters of the table;

Although I eat all I am able,

Dining’s losing its appeal

As I can’t have a single meal

Without a painful gas affliction

Gaviscon’s my new addiction.

 

Then when I have to go outside

I feel like someone twice as wide

And lumber slowly down the street

With painful hips and back and feet

And even this small animation

Gives me bouts of palpitations.

 

It’s been a tiring pregnancy

But soon I’ll be a mum of three

And won’t be whinging half as much

When there’s nothing in me but my guts!

 

I’m linking this up with Prose for Thought over at Verily Victoria Vocalises.

Prose for Thought

continuing

You might notice it’s been a good long while since my last blog post: *whispers guiltily* eleven months! But before you chastise me for my lack of commitment to writing, hear me out. I’ve been writing quite a lot, just not on here.

What happened was that after setting up this blog and publishing a couple of my posts I had a bit of an anxiety attack about it. I started questioning myself and wondering what I was doing. “I can’t write my thoughts in a public place! I need my privacy!” my mind squeaked at me before adding,”Who would want to read what I write?” then rounding it all off with “Why am I doing this anyway? What’s the point?” The result was fairly crippling.

So I backed away and decided instead that I would just spend what time I could writing. It seemed to simplify things. I hadn’t done any creative writing for years so it made sense to just try doing that instead of attempting to chronicle what I was doing at the same time. It allowed me greater focus and, for an essentially private person, felt less risky. Writing without blogging was the obvious thing to do.

And that’s what I’ve been doing – when I can – for the past year. I certainly didn’t abandon my writing bubble.

Then last week I got an email asking me to renew my blog subscription and I came back here and thought maybe it was worth a second bash. I haven’t really got any conclusive answers to my questions from a year ago but I know they’re mainly related to the self-doubt demon and he needs to be vanquished… or at least ignored.

So I’m just going to start blogging and see where it takes me. For a second time then, here goes!

beginning

Well, I’ve decided on my – rather vague – grand plan, I’ve designed my blog and written my first post, but where do I begin with the actual fiction writing I intend to do? It’s easy enough to describe myself as an aspiring writer but how on earth do I get from there to anywhere close to ‘published author’? From where I am right now it seems like a massive hill to climb.

I’ve been doing a bit of online research about what it takes to get work published and the various ways a writer can go about it. There are all sorts of things I could try out: magazine article submissions, story competitions, sending unsolicited manuscripts to publishers (those that accept them), pitching editorial ideas to newspapers and magazines, self publication… the list goes on.

‘Lots of ways in, and things to have a go at, hooray!’, the optimist in me thought. But, at the same time, in all the research I did there were many warnings about rejection. Actually, they weren’t really ‘warnings’, just sensible statements of fact about rejection being something that all writers have to face. Repeatedly. ‘Hmmm, there are lots of ways to fail’, my pessimistic side jumped in to add.

Having said that, rejection – even the idea of repeated rejection – doesn’t really bother me at this stage: I’ve accepted it’s going to happen. Of course the experience of it will be far harder than my matter-of-fact acceptance of it now but, even so, it’s not at the root of my fears. No, what scares me most is the idea that I just might not be any good. What if I’m setting myself up for something that I could never hope to get anywhere with? What if I get rejected repeatedly not just because ‘that’s what happens’ and ‘it happens to every writer at some point’ but because I simply don’t have what it takes? That’s one big scary demon of self-doubt sitting in the corner there.

But ugly demons like that (I’m imagining it a kind of squelchy green colour and oozing pus) could stop me even before I’ve started and, really, the only way to find out if I’m any good at writing is to have a go at it: which brings me back to my initial question of ‘where do I begin?’

Well, I’ve decided to set myself some targets for the next few weeks and by stating them here I’m hoping I’m more likely to achieve them. So over the next few weeks I will:

a) Commit one of the short stories I’ve got in my head to paper.

and

b) Write something for a story competition. There seem to be lots of competitions out there so I need to sort through the likely ones and then take the plunge and enter.

Here goes!