I’ve been tracking my insecurities.
This might seem counter-intuitive but it’s been helping. I started with making a board to track how often I journal.
Because I like shiny things I reward myself with rhinestone stickers (yay Dollarama!), and stars drawn with gold and silver pencil crayon. On my board I put:
- a white stone for days I journal
- a purple stone for days journaling turns into novel writing
- a silver star on days I brainstorm or plot
- a gold star on days I finish a scene
- a gold number (with gold glitter on top!) when I finish a chapter
Aside from learning that drawing proportional freehand stars is damn hard, this is what I figured out.
My pattern is pretty simple: as soon as I’ve finished a scene or chapter that I’m completely happy with, I freak out (as seen by the two to three days of no shiny stickers after finishing a scene or chapter).
I suddenly have very valid reasons not to write. There is family to take care of, money to be made, and childhood emotional trauma that must immediately be dealt with. After two or three days of messing around, I recognize the excuses for what they are: fear that I won’t be able to write the next scene or chapter. At least not as well as the last chapter I wrote. Or not as good as it should be.
I’m pretty sure insecurity is a constant for writers everywhere. Most novel writing bloggers/teachers/experts call them flaws. A screenwriting book and sketch writing class I took called them vulnerabilities. But we all make sure our characters have them: essential qualities that they sorely lack.And to find those flaws/vulnerabilities, writers usually have to take an uncomfortably close look at our own perceived weaknesses and failings.
No wonder our insecurities are always so close by. It’s really kind of messed up, and a bit masochistic, but also necessary to be able to do what we do. So in that light:
I give up fighting my insecurities. I am simply going to accept that as long as I’m writing, insecurity will be my bosom buddy. I just need to figure out how to work with it.
Since my insecurity comes from a fear of not being able to deliver, I’ve taken word counts, deadlines, and producing good (or any) content out of the equation.
The Just Journal Philosophy
Instead I’m going to journal every day. Regardless of what’s happening, I commit to 15 minutes of speed typing stupid nothings or really anything. Even if I’m just blabbing about how I am scared to write the next thing I’m supposed to.
No pressure to write a chapter, or scene, or even a snippet of conversation.
No need to even write about my novel.
Although since it’s mega-important to me, I almost always go back to it. And when I do, I get a free-flow of ideas. Ideas that often turn into scenes as I’m typing. So to unblock my writing prowess, I just need to journal. And I have been.
Since deciding to take the pressure to produce off on November 19th, check out what my board looks like:
Okay, so I know, it hasn’t been very long and I have yet to see if just journaling is sustainable. But on the other hand: Hell yeah I’ve got three more chapters done!
And yes, because I just finished a chapter, I started freaking about whether I’m capable of coming up with the next one. But it’s cool because each day until I get into writing again I’m going to grab a cup of hot coffee, sit down in front of my laptop and not drink the coffee until it’s nasty cold because my hands will be busy typing like crazy until my 15 minutes are up.
If you’re up for broadcasting your writerly insecurities and attempts to overcome them as well, I’d love to hear other ways of coping. Please share in the comments =)