“Embrace the Suck”: Writing through the doubt

Moira-frustrated-computerI’ve often been told (and it’s advice I’ve passed on, myself) that if you are still long enough, you will hear God (or the Universe, or Fate, etc. etc.) speaking to you. I do believe that. Patience and calm will net you wisdom that you just cannot gleam from frenetic worrying and anxiety.

But there are also times when the Universe (or God, or Fate, etc. etc.) just ups and smacks you on the nose.

Take this morning for instance: I expressed to my husband how frustrated I was that I couldn’t translate the story in my head into coherent words on the paper for my current WIP. I was also second-guessing my finished novel, the one that I already submitted to two writing contests. I was feeling discouraged, to say the least.

And then this quote of the day popped up at the top of my Gmail inbox:

“My dear friend, clear your mind of cant.”― Samuel Johnson

To be perfectly clear, Johnson was not speaking of “can’t”; he was addressing the hypocritical way in which some people speak. (Politicians often cant about family values and fiscal responsibility, but then pass bills that promote neither.)

But as I read it in my head, I changed “cant” to “can’t”, because that advice also works. The more I stress over what I can’t do, the more true that becomes. If I tell myself I can’t do something, then I won’t be able to do it. I need to clear my mind of that awful word, “can’t”. Yes, I can develop a complex personality for my character. Yes, I can create a more vivid setting. Yes, I can figure out how to plug that plot hole.

I think as writers, we all have those moments of doubt, when we believe we can’t produce something worthy of public consumption. We just have to push through it, or to put it in military parlance, “Embrace the Suck”. If making the decision to chase my dream of becoming a published author has taught me anything, it’s taught me that this field is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for those who can’t be honest with themselves, who can’t handle the hard work, who can’t see past that first ugly draft. So just clear your minds of “can’t”, my dear friends, because:

“you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”Stephen King

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Well that didn’t go as planned…

So I didn’t even get one post up for the Story-a-Day challenge last year. But I have a very good reason…my career started taking off! Now I get paid to write for my kids’ school, a place I love. I’ve started a blog for them, I help manage their social media, and I write press releases. I also managed to get a monthly column for Gettysburg Life magazine, in addition to my monthly column on behalf of the school for the local papers.

Life is pretty good.

But my creative yearnings haven’t stopped. And in the past couple of weeks, a story has been churning around in my head. I actually started writing it yesterday at my son’s football practice. It is aching to come out, and I don’t think I can wait until November and NaNoWriMo to commit it to paper–er, laptop.

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Yowza! Now that’s writing inspiration right there…

I may, however, have to wait until I can find the most efficient portable way to write at the football games and practices I am committed to almost daily. The Macbook is on its last leg, and the Acer is a little too big to lug around. And forget typing on the phone or the iPod; both are too small, and the touchscreen makes my hand ache after a while. I actually used a notebook and a pen the other day, which worked. Except my handwriting rivals that of gorilla’s.

Although… perhaps this is a good enough excuse to indulge in my journal obsession. Afterall, it would be cheaper to just buy some journals and good pens than to pick up a Galaxy Tab or a new Lenovo, right? At least that’s the argument I’ll use with the hubs.

Well, the kids are in bed (or at least on a different floor than me), so now is a good time to figure out my characters’ names and traits. I’m thinking Jack and Lainie for the protagonists.

Wish me luck!