The act of writing continues to confuse and amaze me. Just as I was getting out of my own way, I hit a big roadblock. Not writer's block, mind you, but a dilemma that had my fingers suspended in air, unclear of what key I needed to hit next. Sometimes when you work on a project, the project leads you to places you never dreamed of visiting, and other times you end up leading the project in a direction you didn't intend.
When Kate was home a few weekends ago, I talked with her at great length about my writing. At first, she was accommodating and polite, but then she got excited. Which got me excited. I started writing a book back in 2009(!) that I've had stored in my desk and on my computer just waiting for me to hit the delete button. Since starting this project, I've kept up with my end of the bargain, to a point. I collected all of my written essays and made notes of new essays for project #2 (non-fiction), filed them away and felt pretty good about my progress. Then I came back to project #1 (fiction) and it felt very....forced.
I decided I needed a little perspective, which is where Kate came in. I started to explain the new book to her and then she asked about the one I had started years ago. I told her I had abandoned that idea. She didn't say much at first, but then she asked me why. After explaining the situation, she convinced me that my original book had to be written.
I am now switching it up and returning to the book I started so long ago and tabling my new one. She made me see that the story needed to be told and that the reason I wasn't making any real progress on the new one was because my heart just wasn't in it. She further made me understand that I wouldn't have to throw it all out and start over. My beginning is now going to end up somewhere in the middle. That revelation was so freeing.
It amazed me how quickly talking through the project made me see things in a new way. I was able understand why I stuffed this story in a drawer to begin with and why now was the time to dust it off and continue to move forward.
A writer is faced with a lot of self-doubt. And although writing is essentially a one-person act, the process must be shared. It doesn't matter if you talk about writing in general, about a specific project, or share pages of your story or article, you must put it out there and let it be judged.
I encourage all writers to find a support system that works for you, whether you join a writers' group in person or online, or trust in your people—the ones who understand you and what you're trying to achieve.
"Don't write your book in seclusion--get a community to support you--a writing buddy, an online class, workshop, or a coach can keep you accountable, confident and supportive." - Lisa Tener
This is why I started this series to begin with—to hold myself accountable to someone other than myself. Those 1000 words are a goal, not a barrier. And they're not there to make me feel less competent, lazy, or like a failure. They're simply a measuring stick; an imaginary boss looming over my shoulder to make sure I'm doing my work.
If you're having trouble with your writing, read Lisa's article to be inspired.
Photo credit: My office/den where I do most of my writing and a favorite spot to read taken by Katie Merritt