Friday, August 21, 2009

Stinky Cheese and Doubt

I admit it. I've been avoiding my WIP like it's a piece of stinky cheese. Like it's a lamp I don't want to dust, or a phone call I don't want to make.

Like I'm a busy person who chooses to spend her downtime doing less productive things, continually shrugging off the needy manuscript.

But also because I allow myself to be overwhelmed. I become stunted by the fact that I need another 50- or 60,000 words, instead of considering I've already succeeded with 20,000. Because the voice of doubt and negativity rumbles loud and long.

Because if I don't work hard, I don't risk rejection and failure of grand proportion.

Sometimes it's easier just to play around online. Or to put an hour's time and thought into a great blog post. And avoid my writing by visiting others to talk about writing.

It's a phase. It's a mood. I have them often. It's part of this way my brain is wired, part of my undisciplined nature. It's part of my struggle.

But it's like a reverse psychology thing. I start to feel guilty, undeserving, untalented. And then it's like I have something to prove. And I write again.

I kicked almost 1000 words out yesterday, and it felt good. I told myself this is all I need. To focus on one scene, one section at a time, consistently. To work toward smaller goals that, in turn, grow one large one.

And that's all I can do, right? It's all any of us can do?

34 comments:

Lori said...

Oh, Janna, you go directly to the heart of it. I am in exactly the same boat (except for the thousand words just accomplished by you).

Jody Hedlund said...

Very true, Janna! It's easy to get discouraged and slack off. But for me, the love of writing keeps calling me back!

Terri Tiffany said...

You are doing exactly what you should be doing--get through a scene at a time and forget the bigger picture. But I hear you, I'm done with mine and wondering--full of self-doubt now as I get rejections--was it any good or worth it. But I know I had to write this book so... I wondered if you were doing just that by the way you were writing your blog.

JKB said...

Dearie, focus on the day and the words therein. It's all you can do.

I did the same thing last time, and Had the same results.

((hug)) you'll get through it. I know you can!

Melanie Avila said...

It feels great, doesn't it? When you're really down on yourself and then you write 1000 words and remember, hey, I can do this. :)

Sometimes that's all it takes for me to get back on track. When I'm away from my wip for awhile and I keep looking at the word count where I'm stuck, it becomes a wall that I convince myself I'll never surmount. But then I do and I realize it's not really that hard, I just need to find the loose brick, push it out of the way, and keep going. :)

Your cheese don't stink.

Kristen Painter said...

That's about what I write a day - 1000 words. I'm not a fast writer, but maintaining that pace gets a book written in about 3 - 4 months, depending on what you're writing.

Nothing wrong with that!

Tessa said...

Writing is like painting in many ways. Sometimes you need to look at it upside down, y'know? Sounds odd, but I promise, it does help make sense of it all.

I came over from Erin's to 'meet' you because your comment on her latest post caught my eye. I'm very pleased that I did... Now I'm off to read more of your blog and I feel pretty sure that I'm going to love it!

Lazy Writer said...

I completely understand! It happens to me all the time. When I look at the overall picture, I get overwhelmed and find all kinds of excuses not to work on my WIP. If I focus on one scene, it seems much more doable. Go write another 1000 today! :)

Janna Qualman said...

Lori - Your observation warms me. Thank you.

Jody - As it does me, too. That's how I know I'll be okay. :)

Terri - I feel the same pressing urge with mine; that it's a book to be written (whether it would ever see publication or not).

JKB - Thank you for the sweet encouragement! I really do appreciate the gentle push. *hugs*

Melanie - Your first sentence is so right on. Very well put!

Kristen - I'm not fast, either. And my ideal goal is 1000 per day, though with a young family (one kidlet still at home), I have trouble carving out that writing time each day. Some day I'll get there. For now, I do the best I can. - And thanks for offering proof that it can be done! :)

Tessa - Thank you so much. Your kind comment has made my day. :)

Lazy Writer - I'm determined. :) And you go for it, too!

Natasha Fondren said...

I hate long-term goals, LOL! They are so darn hard!

This is a great post. I'm avoiding a certain WIP like stinky cheese, and need to get to it NOW, lol.

Travis Erwin said...

You just captured my last six months. And you did so with more elegance than I've been able to muster.

Jessica said...

Eat an elephant one bite at a time, right?
Good for you for jumping back in! I completely understand this horrible feeling. It happens to me several times during the book and after. But when you've accomplished your wordage for the day, it feels SO good, right?
Why do we feel guilty, btw? I never understood that. LOL (about not writing, that is, heehee)

Jill Kemerer said...

I can relate. The only thing that's tamed this is not letting more than a weekend come between me and a first draft. If I write every weekday, I eliminate the prob.

Have a great weekend!

T. Anne said...

Baby steps! Some day's that's al I'm capable of.

Tess said...

You are spot on in this post. I quite often feel the very same way. I fact, I recently had a conv. w/ a friend ... he queried an editor, the editor asked for sample pages and he hasn't sent them? why? I think it's what you talk about here...fear, avoidance, liking to dabble. It's in all of us, really and our challenge is to push through those feelings more often than not.

Good work on 1k words. That's awesome :)

lakeviewer said...

There is work; and there is work. Writing only looks easy when it's all done. Like a dress that fits beautifully. Who thinks of the dressmaker struggling with the sleeves or the little stiches?

You captured the hard part of the process. Brava.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Kind of funny...my girls are upstairs in quiet time, the house is quiet--QUIET and what am I doing...zippin' around on blogger. Must go write.
Way to go on the thousand yesterday. Small is good. It has a chance to grow big.
~ Wendy

JLC said...

Congrats on your 1000 words! Don't doubt your methods! If it works for you, great!

I've avoided WIPs too, but for me, it is usually because the story has run its course and no longer excites me. If it doesn't excite me, then it sure wouldn't excite my audience!

Cindy said...

Good job making that progress. And you're so right! Sometimes focusing on the bigger picture makes it harder. Then we think about how much we have to do or how much further we need to go. Sometimes it's best just to work on one small thing and then revel in that tiny accomplishment.

Deb Shucka said...

I can so relate to this! I've been avoiding the job in front of me (agent querying) in very creative ways for months now. The fear of rejection has started to become a more generalized fear. Time to slay the dragon and move on. Thanks for the inspiration.

Josh said...

so true, words of wisdom as only spoken by a true Leadbetter :)

Strange Fiction said...

We all need breaks to recharge the old batteries from time to time--jumping back in fresh and rested isn't a bad thing. Perhaps we should include our posted words in our weekly word count tallies. After all, it takes practice to win most of the big games.

Janna Qualman said...

Natasha - Crackin' the whip. kerSNAP!

Travis - Thank you for saying so. :) But I know you have such moments, too.

Jessica - Yes, one bite, without feeling guilty! :)

Jill - That's a great plan!

Me, too, T. Anne.

Tess - I hope your friend can keep at it!

lakeviewer, yes! Very perceptive way of looking at it.

Wendy - It's so tempting to do just that. Zip!

JLC - Do you ever try to keep working until the excitement comes back? What if it's just a lull?

Janna Qualman said...

Cindy - I think those tiny accomplishments can chink away at the bigger doubts, don't you?

Deb - You can do it! My thoughts are with you. If you need help with anything, just let me know.

Josh - *wink*

Strange Fiction - I do think blog posts and notetaking and communication all count. They play a big role in building our voice and more!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Oh how easy it is to take a vacation from writing! There's not enough post/comment space to list the reasons/excuses, but you can bet mine is long! But somehow, in that brief vacation, it's a time of rest, renewal and inspiration that gets us back writing with more clarity, enthusiasm and accomplishment.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jana -

I think many of us suffer from this affliction...wandering wordsmith. Our attention gets pulled in so many directions.

Congrats on the 1,000 words. Eat that elephant one bite at a time.

Blessings,
Susan :)

ChristaCarol said...

I'm at that stage right about now. I blame Vegas, upcoming school, and kids (that I love...but you know..they can be distractions!)

Sounds like you're starting to get at the end of this tunnel though. Good thing tunnels don't last forever ;)

Janna Qualman said...

Donna - That last line of yours is so true.

Susan - I like "wandering wordsmith." It would be a good blog title (not just a post, but the whole thing)!

ChristaCarol - I know JUST what you mean. ;)

Nadine said...

I am so with you on that! I especially get overwhelmed thinking about how many words I have left to write - I'm almost always under wordcount, so when I only have 20,000, I know it's going to be tough to get it up to 70,000.

That's awesome that you did 1,000 words yesterday! I did 0. :) But today is a new day!

Angie Ledbetter said...

That's right Janna! Ya know, what you've written here is so crisp and clear, it could be part of a NF book. ("Stinky Cheese & Doubt --The True Writer's Journey") Have you ever thought of compiling these posts into a how-to book or ebook? For the times when the WIP stalls, of course. :)

If you ever want a boost, send me the chapter you're working on, and I'll throw ya back a bunch of ideas and questions.

WendyCinNYC said...

Yeah, it's tough. I can't think about how many words I have left to go or I will just get completely overwhelmed and cower in a corner. I just think about what has to happen in the next scene.

Good luck on your writing, Janna.

Terresa said...

I did the same avoidance thing while in grad school. I still do it now but in regards to house cleaning and sometimes, yes, writing. I'm with you on that.

Janna Qualman said...

Nadine - And it's a new week!

Angie - I've given NF thought before, but not under this context. Hmm... And thanks! I'll keep your offer in mind.

Wendy - I do better that way, too, if I let the scene play out in my mind without looking too far ahead. Thank you. :)

Terresa - I definitely doing it in regards to housecleaning! I admit it.

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