Cosmos and the Hurdles of Self-Doubt

So I’ve been on a bit of a break. It started off as a few days to try and figure out a bit of writer’s block, and it’s turned into a multi-week hiatus. I have this picture in my mind of all my characters standing around, looking at each other, waiting for their next cue. They are the true victims of writer’s block.

I did need to take a step back. I was so deep into the story that I was having trouble seeing the big picture…kind of like being deep in a corn maze where you can make decisions on whether to turn right or left, but you can’t see the entire maze.  Sometimes you need to stop and get your bearings.

When I stopped, however, I seemed to lose my connection to my writing, and then I had a total crash of confidence about everything I had written. I started to second guess all my words, and I began to doubt that I had any ability to create a story that anyone would want to read. I threw myself into reading, hoping to find inspiration in other’s words, but all it seemed to do was make me even more critical of my own writing.  There were so many easy reasons to put the writing off…housework, yard work, parenting, groceries, life. With so many things to juggle, it’s easy to put something on the back burner, especially when you don’t think you are up for the challenge.

Then two things happened. I was at a party on the weekend and enjoyed a few too many cosmos. It was in that happy state that I was fielding questions about the book. Those who hadn’t heard that I was writing a naughty book were interested, and those who did know wanted to know when they could read it. My sister-in-law (who is the only person other than my reluctant hubby to have actually read any of it) told everyone how much she loved it and how she was waiting excitedly for the next chapter. I’m a happy drinker, and that allowed me to enjoy talking about it without the doubts that had been clouding my thoughts. The negative walls I had built up were chipped away by the inebriated excitement from my friends. Had I not had a wicked hangover the next day, I might have tried to plow my way through chapter twelve.

I also spent time reading things written by some wonderful authors…not the fiction they create, but their experiences in writing that fiction. Little things that made me stop to realize that I am at the beginning of a process. Jodi Ellen Malpas wrote on her Facebook page that in writing the “This Man” series, some days the words would just flow, and other days she would sit and there would be nothing.  Sylvia Day always notes when she posts a snippet from her Crossfire trilogy that it may be changed, edited or omitted from the final book even though it might seem perfect to her fans. Emma Grayson wrote a very detailed acknowledgement for her book “Unbeautifully Loved” in which she talked at great lengths about the journey she took in writing the book.

These wonderful women made me remember that writing is an organic experience…things change constantly and just because I have put them down on the page, they are not set in stone. There will be parts that bug the crap out of me because they aren’t quite right. I will go back again and again to change, tweak, and tear out parts that at one point I thought were perfect. A direction I thought was the obvious choice to make might turn into the exact opposite. A story doesn’t just appear on the page, it is something that is crafted like any other art form.

I have written eleven chapters and almost two hundred pages of a world that did not exist before I started this journey. I have created characters that I love and I can hardly wait to see how their tale ends. I have to remember to be proud of that. I think it’s time to get back to work.

Til later.

  1 comment for “Cosmos and the Hurdles of Self-Doubt

  1. Gwyneth
    May 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    As a member of the “cosmo” crowd that night, I am happy to help you get over writer’s block any time. Looking forward to reading your book and supporting you on your journey…..oh, and happy to supply the cosmos :0) Carry on my friend!

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