Just Another Struggling Writer

The lamentations of yet another person struggling to write a novel.

Abandoning Self-Rejection and Taking Up Gardening Instead

Hello friends and welcome to another inner-edited edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer. 

One of my most annoying traits as a writer is that I do my best brainstorming when I’m lying in bed trying to go to sleep. Due to my insomnia I am very aware of not looking at the time or any screens after I go to bed, because if I do then getting to sleep will be nearly impossible. Unfortunately, that usually means if I get a great idea while in bed, I just have to count on myself remembering it in the morning. 

Last night I was laying in bed, trying to go to sleep, and trying my best to brainstorm my way through the murky middle of my WIP. Ideas were coming freely, however very few of them fit into the story or contradicted elements of the worldbuilding. The longer I wrestled with this tangle, the more I became convinced that the story itself was the problem. And as I debated that thought, the more I became convinced that it wasn’t the story itself at issue, it was the writer. By the time I fell asleep, I’d half-decided to hang it up.

When Your Inner Editor Goes off Script

Writers are often told to be ruthless in their editing. Kill your darlings, and all that jazz. I’m a fan of this advice. Editing is one of my favorite parts of the writing process, and I get something of a high when I slash some useless paragraph or sentence, knowing that I just made my manuscript that much tighter and cleaner.

However, when it comes to the brainstorming process, this advice is counter productive, and, unfortunately for me, it’s not just a matter of switching on or off the inner editor. And when paired with my mental illness, of which extreme self-deprecation is a key symptom, that inner editor can be vicious, often convincing me to abandon an idea before it’s even born. I don’t even want to think about how many side plots, settings, or worldbuilding components I’ve thrown away as not good enough, overdone, boring, or nonsensical without ever giving the idea a chance to breathe and develop into something that might be good enough, unique, interesting, or whimsical.

Bad Ideas Are Self-Care

So, what’s the remedy here? How does one manage the multiple personalities of inner editor and goofy plot bunny? How can I, a person who sees time as a currency that must be spent wisely, a person who virulently hates wasting time and energy on dead end projects, learn to stop self-rejecting at the point of conception?

Honestly, what I think it comes down to is – well, first of all, letting go of my iron grip on my sense of time – but also, recognizing bad or unusable ideas as almost a form of relaxation. You can’t always be on all the time, and certainly no idea is ever born ready to be published and mass produced. 

In fact, ideas – good, bad, goofy, grim, melodramatic, overdone – are more like seeds that need to be planted and cultivated. Would a gardener think of a newly sown patch of flowers or herbs as a waste of time? Or would they be excited about the possibilities? Would they be eager to tend to their new, unformed garden? Or would they rip out the seeds before they even had a chance to take root? 

Perfection Is the Antagonist of Creativity

Of course, it’s easier said than done to simply evolve one’s anxiety-induced (and deeply ingrained) obsession with time into something relaxing. But sometimes it helps just to have that reminder that… writing is rarely perfect, especially when you’re just starting out on a new journey with a new project. Creativity has to be allowed space to breathe, it is not something that can be corralled or summoned on demand. 

And, most of all, just because an idea doesn’t fit with whatever you’re trying to write or plan for doesn’t make it a bad one. Maybe it just needs a little bit of massaging, or maybe it just needs to go back into the percolator for a future project. Tossing ideas aside out of hand because it doesn’t suit your immediate purpose is counter-productive and, dare I say it, a waste of time. 

Yes, I’m talking directly to myself here. 

Of course, there’s a time and a place for an inner editor. But if I can’t make it to the end of the first draft because I’m constantly wearing myself down and refusing to develop the seeds of my garde, then the editor is never going to get a chance to do its job. 

A time and a place for everything. Even bad ideas.

That’s all from me this time. Tune in tomorrow for Fiction Friday, where I plan to talk about my April TBR. See you then!

Kerry Share

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About Me

Kerry Share’s love for writing started, as it so often does, as a love of reading at an early age. At age 11 she wrote her first short story, a Harry Potter knockoff of dubious quality, and her love for creative expression was born. Throughout her teen years she continued to foster that passion through derivative work, and at 23 she turned her eye to original fiction.

Now in her thirties, having taken a break from creative endeavors to cope with an ever changing life and landscape, she is determined to make her dream of a writing career reality.

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