Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Keep It Real Tuesday


Here's a truth. I'm struggling with faith in myself as a writer.

Sure, I blog three times a week, am consistent with the small projects I'm part of (see sidebar) and freelance jobbies here or there, and keep an eye on the larger intended projects, like my books.

But I'll feel the drive and find the zone for only a couple days at a time, then too quickly lose momentum. I'm lacking discipline. I get too caught up in my day-to-day, finding a dozen things to do instead of sit down and WRITE. There's been too much gook in my personal life to pull away and WRITE. Sometimes the blogging feels like a chore, even.

What I want to know is, what does this mean? Is it just a phase? (Please let it be a phase.) How can I be a writer if I'm not writing? Is it fair to go easy on myself--because it's not like I haven't had a lot of life happening (divorce and a move being the biggies, plus other tasty stuffs)--or am I just falling on that as an excuse?

I've got to snap out of it. I have to find my groove. I want to write again. I want my days to be filled with words and bursting with creativity.

Do you have any advice or encouragement?

What do you do when you don't believe in yourself (even though you know you should)?


Terri Tiffany said...

I am exactly where you are. I think with your life changes and as with mine, it is easy to feel like this. I think it is a season in our lives and it will go away some day. We both love to write and that drive will remain. I'm trying not to be so hard on myself, not blogging as much and reading more until my life is more in order and I can dive back in.

the domestic fringe said...

I think this is probably the great struggle for so many creative people, not only writers. Discipline and creativity don't get along so well. That's probably where the phrase "starving artist" came from. ;-)

There are tons of fabulous writers who have only written one or two books in their lifetime. You've already written two (if I'm not mistaken).

It's hard to focus and allow your mind the space to be creative when you have so much going on in 'real' life. Give yourself a break. You're a great writer. You love to write. Write until it doesn't feel right anymore. Don't judge yourself by other people's standards of success. Write because you love to write.

I'm cheering for ya!

DL Hammons said...

There's been too much gook in my personal life... LOL! Love the way you phrase that. :)

In my experience, yes...it's a phase. I've been through it, more than once, but you'll pop out on the otherside more impassioned then before.

Anonymous said...

Questioning yourself is perfectly normal. We are human after all. Discipline I'm afraid takes effort. It takes sacrifice. Based on everything you've got going on in your life, it sounds as if you've put writing at the bottom of the priority list. Does it belong there? That's ultimately up to you.

To be honest you've had a lot going on so I understand the speed bump. You've admitted that you want to get back to writing but something is obviously stopping you (and I'm not talking real life). Because words, if they want to come out, will come out real life or not. If you want to continue along the writing path you're going to need to make a decision at some point soon. What priority is your writing and are you willing to keep to that priority?

Janna, I know it must be hard. But you have a lot of people who believe in you, even if you don't. There's 1440 minutes in a day. Can you honestly say that you can't spend 5 of those 1440 minutes writing?

Slamdunk said...

I believe you are an excellent writer and someone who projects compassion Janna.

My only advice would be not to be afraid to take a break and reflect--knowing that it will make your work that much stronger.

Liza said...

Schedule your writing time. Whether it is 6:00 a.m. or 10:00 at night, make a period of time sacred to writing. Even if it's only for 30 minutes or an hour, do it. Put it on your calendar, mark it in your date book, schedule it on your I-Pad, and do it. And even if you have nothing to write during your writing time, sit down and click the keys...stream of conscience if you have to...just get the words flowing. Good luck!

Rhonda Schrock said...

I think this is just a season, Janna. Maybe you need to let yourself just "be" for awhile. You're a writer; that's part of who you are. I really think your mojo will come back.

Meanwhile, just soak up all the holiday joy you can and refresh that way. Revel in it as much as you can.

Merry Christmas early, friend.

Anonymous said...

And one more thing..

Janna I know you feel alone and lost,
And you’ve paid a high personal cost,
The life you once knew is now shattered,
And you likely feel bruised and battered,
Moving forward and picking up the pieces,
Is hard when the whirlwind just increases,
But you can find your footing once more,
For there’s a new world for you to explore,
One in which you will rediscover you,
I know that in the end you’ll pull through,
I’m sure you’re filled with chaos and dismay,
But you have a chance to mold that clay,
To shape it into what you want it to be,
To fire it in the kiln and set yourself free,
Believe in yourself Janna Qualman- we do,
Be who you want to be- be the real you.

graceunderpressure said...

Janna - trust me, you're a writer. :P
I think that, like a battery, you have just had more drain than charge lately (as you explained above). You need to find that peaceful place inside yourself where you know that you KNOW that God loves you and all will be well. Let yourself be rejuvenated, filled with peace and love. Like baking, first you must determine the required ingredients, then you must gather them, then you must mix them, then bake, then cool. Many steps are involved, some longer than others (consider the fruitcake). Now, pick up your world and give it a little turn ... do you see that new perspective?

Janna Leadbetter said...

Thank you all very much. You're terrific!

Yes, writing is still a priority. More than a priority, it's a way of life for me. It is rooted so deeply into who I am, I could never *not* be a writer. I just feel like a fraud at times, because I can't whip out my latest full-length project to SHOW you I'm a writer.

Of all the minutes in a day, I spend many writing in some way... letters and notes to people, networking stuff, journaling, etc. I'm forever taking notes about things. It's just I haven't been able to pull off anything lengthy and substantial.

A large part of me feels that if I'm going to sit down and write, I have to be able to devote a long chunk of time and end up with a significant (and close to perfect) piece at the end--instead of allowing myself to write in small snatches, getting even just a little out, no matter what it is and in what shape. That sets me up for failure, I think.

Liza, I probably do need to schedule it. Train myself. Good idea.

Lovely poem, Ryan. Thank you. :)

I appreciate all your encouragement!

PS. In case anyone's curious about what FringeGirl touched on, I've three novels, and have most recently been working on a non-fiction book proposal. Not bad, I realize, it's just I need to do more.

Patti said...

I often wonder that as well. If I'm not taking every opportunity I have to write, can I consider myself a writer. I'm hoping it's just a phase. A result of the cooler weather and the approaching holidays. I'm hoping the new year will be better.

Melissa Amateis said...

It's a phase. I go through it every single year. That being said, you will get through it. Be easy on yourself. Your life changes have been HUGE ones, and that has taken a toll. Be kind to yourself and be patient. You will feel like writing again when the time is right. :-)

April Plummer said...

Janna, I've been there too. I was there for several years while my life fell apart (or so it felt at the time). You're a writer. It's inside you, and when you're ready to write again, you will. It's okay. Focus on where you feel you need to focus. Which is on you and your family and life. It'll come back to you if you're patient and figure out everything else first. Or at least, that's how it worked for me.

Hang in there.


Jill Kemerer said...

It's really hard to be excited every day in such a slow business. The rewards take a long time to achieve, and in the process, we have to stay motivated. Honestly, I love writing, but there are days when the only thing that gets me to open my WIP is a steaming cup of coffee, a candy bar, and the knowledge I just have to write something.

I think it's normal to struggle, and I hope life settles down for you soon.

Kathryn Magendie said...


We aren't machines. We are living breathing humans with blood and bone and heart, and with brains that have to sort and connect and deal with so much stimuli--both good and bad. When we are going through things, our brains need to shut down some of its activities - we simply can't Do It All --or if we try, we aren't doing it well.

You are putting pressure on yourself that you shouldn't or needn't.

We can forgive ourselves for so much, but for some reason we can't give ourselves a break when it comes to this writing life. We put pressures on ourselves and unrealistic expectations - this is what causes those "blocks."

Sometimes you just have to take care of yourself and find that quiet place and let your brain and your heart sort through all of this. The writing will come again - believe me, it doesn't go anywhere - the words are there waiting for when you are ready.

Allow yourself to say "I'm tired/depressed/over-whelmed" or whatever, and acknowledge that - if the writing can help you through this, then write what feels wonderful and fun or therapeutic until you find your "sea-legs" again. The "regular work" and discipline will return when your brain isn't so over-whelmed.

Hugs and hugs to my, my beautiful friend.

graceunderpressure said...

one question: since you love to write, do you feel like you don't _deserve_ to do something you enjoy? Just wondering..

Janna Leadbetter said...

Thanks so much, Kat. <3

GUP - No, it's not like I'm punishing myself, or withholding something intentionally. It's just I can't access what I want to access.

AM Zafaran said...

So many encouraging comments!
These are by themselves tremendous positive forces that will surely take you out of the current frame of mind.
I can't say I have been as creative as I want to be myself, so reading your post and all these comments helped me reassess myself.

Pat said...

Janna, I know this is an old post but wanted to say I can relate. Love this observation (like so many others have noted)--"There's been too much gook in my personal life..."

I think writing comes from the core...and when that core is reeling, the writing stalls out until stability comes back. At least that's how it's been with me (though not dealing with spouse issues or moving).

I've found it helpful to give myself permission to engage in some other form of creative release--especially one that doesn't involve so much introspection or just plain thinking. (Something artsy or musical, maybe.) Don't put a time limit on it, either. When things are right, the natural 'need' to write will come back for someone who is a writer. Writers tend to think a lot. But sometimes that thinking/processing gets too heavy when there are personal issues to also wrestle with. So get out with nature, relax and paint, bead, take photographs, or whatever other kind of creative expression fills your mind with joy and peace.