Work It #9 from A Writer’s Guide to Persistence by Jordan Rosenfeld
Chapter 9: Push Through Perfectionism
Choose the fear that resonates most strongly with you at the time of your writing. (You can also repeat this exercise for any other fear.) Make it the title or subject of a freewrite. For example, perhaps the fear of being a fraud is your chosen subject. Set a timer for a minimum of ten minutes and write a short story, a poem, or an essay without stopping to correct a thing. Just let it flow; don’t stop to correct anything. Don’t use quotation marks or punctuation, and don’t cross anything out. Just start a new “sentence” when you feel stuck. This exercise helps transmute a negative feeling into a positive outcome–it’s a mental version of the “Move It” exercises.
I’m going to do this exercise with the support of the 5,000 Words Per Hour app created by Chris Fox. I love that app, and I’ve been using his techniques and doing all my recent blog posts as writing sprints. I’m also using SelfControl to keep me off distracting websites while I do my writing sprints. I know that I have problems focusing, so I’m doing what I can to fix that. In any case, when I reach the end of this Work It exercise, I’ll be posting my WPH stats at the end of this post.
Which fear resonates most strongly with me right now?
Fear of Failure
I struggle every single day with the fear that I’m never going to succeed as a writer. I’m never going to find the time or the willpower to finish my novel. I’m going to inconvenience everyone around me so much that my writing career just won’t be worth it anymore, and I will give up. I mean, what gives me the right to be a writer anyway? Who the hell am I to do this? What do I have to say that hasn’t already been said a million times? Why does my voice even matter?
Does it? Does my voice matter at all? Does my writing mean anything to anybody besides me? What if it doesn’t mean anything to anybody besides me? What then? What am I even writing for? Why does this matter so much to me? Why does it hurt me so deeply and badly when people don’t understand this need that I have to write?
I just went three days without writing because I didn’t want to inconvenience my husband, my cousin Shelby, and her boyfriend James while we were spending Valentine’s Day weekend together at the beach. It was a really nice respite, yes, but did anybody stop to think that I was sacrificing something vital to me for their sake? Did anyone stop to think that I was sacrificing consistency because I didn’t want to be rude? Does anybody understand why this matters so much to me? Does anyone care?
I’ve been what I would call a struggling writer for my entire life. Does anyone else out there get that struggle? Does anyone else out there wake up with this burning need to pour words out on the page? Does anyone else wake up every morning and feel the overwhelming urge to reach out through words and touch someone else’s soul?
I just want to matter. I want the things I love to matter to the people I love. Does that ever really happen? Or are all writers doomed to bear the cross of an overwhelming, burning desire that no one else but other writers will ever understand? Are we all doomed to be the only ones who really care about our writing?
Is there always going to be a struggle between the people who mean the most to us and the one thing we do that means the most to us? Can there ever be harmony? Will I ever win the approval of those close to me? I know I shouldn’t worry about trying to gain others’ approval and I should just focus on my writing practice and getting my message out there. I just wonder why things are the way they are.
Why am I such an asshole to the people who mean the most to me when I feel that they’re threatening my writing practice or my writing life? Why can’t I find some kind of balance between the people I love and the thing I love to do? There has to be some way where everyone ends up happy. How the hell do I get there? How do I reach that balance where everything that matters to me is in a good place, both my people and my writing practice?
Does that exist? Am I going to constantly sacrifice one thing to another? Why can’t I have both? Why can’t I have a good relationship with the people I love and also be dedicated and consistent in my writing practice? Why can’t those two things coexist? Do any other writers out there struggle with this? If so, I would love to hear from you.
Has anyone found that balance between the people you love and your writing practice? If so, I could really use some advice on how to get to that point. I crave that balance. I desperately need love and for those that I care about to be happy, but I also MUST write. I can’t ignore this need I have to write, but I also can’t sacrifice everyone I love on the altar of my writing. I need balance. I need help.
I need the people I love and I need to write. I need both. How do I get there? How do I get to that point? How do I find that balance and avoid hurting the people I love while also achieving consistency in my writing practice? If anybody out there has answers, I’d really love to hear them.
Please send help.