Monday, October 22, 2012

The Voices in my Head

Someone once told me that writer’s block doesn’t exist. And, to a large extent, I agree. If you sit in the chair long enough, words are going to run through your head. They will. But what if the words running through your head aren’t yours? What if they are the words of every bitchy, jealous, hateful person who has tried to pull you down, disguised as your voice?

Like many writers, I battle against the forces of negativity every day. Most of the time, I’m able to swat them away like they’re nothing more than an annoying gnat on a summer day. But then there are the darker times. When what I want is to climb into bed, throw Poptarts at my kids when they ask what’s for dinner, and hide from the voices that tell me I’m no good, or that I’m foolish for thinking I could ever write something people would want to read.

Where does this come from? Because, if I’m being honest, I mean completely honest, I have practiced my interview for when I’m on the Ellen Show. I have imagined what it would be like to see my story up on the marquee at the local movie theater. I have dreams that, most the time, don’t seem unattainable.

So, what I’m saying is, I rarely lack for confidence. But there are moments. Moments when I question if my house being in shambles because I’m in the middle of major revisions or heading off to the local coffee shop to get a chapter or two done in one sitting while my husband stays home with the kids is really worth it.

I don’t know if people who aren’t in the industry understand how hard it is to be a writer. I’m not saying it’s the toughest job out there, not by a long shot. As my husband likes to put it, especially when I’m being particularly whiny, “It’s not like you’re working in a coal mine in Chile.”

Touché, dear hubby, and have fun sleeping alone on the couch tonight. Okay, I jest, but being creative, taking your work with you every single place you go, can sometimes wear a person out. How many of you have taken your laptops on vacation just in case you can squeeze in a few hours of work in the hotel while everyone else is asleep? I know I’m not the only one. Heck, some of my best chapters were written in a dark room at Great Wolf Lodge.

Okay, back to the negative thoughts. I’m struggling right now. And based on conversations I’ve had with other writers, I’m not alone. So what do we do? What do we, as a writing community, do when we see other writer’s struggle? How do we tell them it will get better and that yes, it’s okay to let your kids play an extra hour of video games so you can finish a really tricky scene?

And if it’s not writer’s block, what is it?

I have a theory. I think it’s a test. A way for our creative selves to push us past what we think is possible. To make us struggle. To make us want it all that much more. To force us to believe in ourselves more than anyone else and look that negative Nancy in the imaginary face and knock her lights out.

It’s a chance for us to be the hero in our own journey. We rescue our manuscripts from the evil clutches of the evil manila envelope and carry it safely back to the land of completion where it will live happily ever after, at least until Lord Revision comes to marry it.

Can you tell I’ve been catching up on Once Upon a Time?

I’m not saying getting published or even finishing that first, second, fiftieth novel is a slam dunk. We all make the rookie mistakes. The difference is who can push through the negativity and disappointment to achieve the highest level of literary success they possibly can.

No matter what obstacles are in your way, remember to BE PASSIONATE about what you’re writing. You are your #1 Fan!


  1. Great point! Writer's block is HARD, and it does come down to our passion. Sometimes a book isn't worth it, but when it is, we have to push through it.

  2. You are right about being passionate about what you are writing. I found that when I am enjoying the story unfolding, even if it is hard to write, I don't suffer from writer's block.

  3. Great post! Passion is essential and often can crest and lull. Hang on and keep going and good luck!

  4. I love Ellen! I want to be on (or just visit) her show sometime! She makes me laugh ever day.