Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Back to Basics

I think we all have those moments in life when you have to reach deep into yourself to remember why you’re where you are to begin with.

You know: Your partner has been on the warpath and taking it out on you. You are totally empathetic, but a little battle weary. So you think, “Oh, yeah, it was your smile. “ Even if you haven’t seen so much as a grin in weeks, you can push yourself through the “for worse” days by re-visiting the better ones.

Or, if you have kids, you know they invariably (more likely, consistently) test your patience and make you wonder what on earth made you think you wanted to take on that lifetime task. (We all know it doesn’t really end at 18, 21 or 30 – does it?) When someone brings home a poor grade, detention slip, or colors all over your freshly painted walls, you revert to the joy you get from their unsolicited hugs, the way dumb things make them laugh, or the way they look at you like you’re a superhero (or, maybe, used to. lol)

Every author knows that writing has those days, too. Your mind may have hit a blank patch, a deserted wasteland without so much as a mirage of an idea in sight. Or perhaps your muse has declared herself to be on vacation – or ditched you to manage a family emergency. Or maybe life is just kicking your behind right now and you can hardly see straight from one day to the next – less known, arrange characters, plots and sub-themes into a cohesive happy ending.

Stuff happens.

A few days ago, guest blogger June Shaw wrote about not giving up. Her focus was on editors whose visions don’t always align with our own. But beyond the decision makers at publishing houses and magazines, there may be family naysayers, skeptic friends, demanding children, even writing colleagues who disagree with your choice of genre, style, or subject matter. Those challenges affect your motivation as much as any internal stall.

But it’s going to take YOU to get that engine going again. Reach back for why you write in the first place. If it’s for accolades, well, your goals can get blown away like so much chaff with the first rejection or two. If you’re in it for the money, um, I think you’re in the wrong pursuit.

But, if it’s like breathing, a compulsive must-do, something you can’t see yourself not doing for the sheer sake of doing it, well, take a deep breath, pick up a pen, keyboard or tape recorder and start spilling your mental guts.

Like the partner you share your life with out of love or the children you care for out of love, write from that place deep within that burns no matter how the world tries to douse its flame. Eventually, you’ll surprise yourself with the joy of your own smile at a sentence, scene, then story well written – whether it’s sold yet or not.


Jewel Amethyst said...

Oh Gosh Stefanie, this is so deep it almost brought tears to my eyes. I can definitely relate to both extrinsic and the intrinsic lack of motivation (and of course the family analogies). But the writing, whether it is the running story in my head that I have to get out, or I'm at the computer getting it out, wins out in the end.

Great post!

Phyllis Bourne said...

A lot of the things you mentioned have kept me away from the keyboard for days and even weeks at a time.

But once I take that deep breath and sit down at to write, it doesn't take long for the story to start coming out.

Stefanie Worth said...

Jewel and Phyllis --

Believe me, I've had to swallow a strong dose of my own advice over the past year. The silver lining has absolutely been hanging on to my trust in ME and clawing my way through the tough times word by word.

They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Hopefully it makes us better writers, too.

Liane Spicer said...

Phyllis mentioned days and weeks. Some writers can tell you about months and years.

I'm making an effort to get back to the place from which I started, for the very reasons you mentioned: to write because I want to, I need to, and I enjoy it. The publishing roller coaster can dry up your words if you let it.