I’m writing this as 2019 draws to a close. Several things have happened since I went on my unplanned holiday (more like a hiatus) mid-November. Some were good, excellent even. Others were blood boiling bad.
But I learned things.
- Always trust your gut.
- Never feed trolls – no matter how cute and harmless they may seem.
- Playing silly games on your phone is relaxing (especially Township and Fishdom!).
- The Freudian slip* exists and should be heeded.
- Nothing lasts forever.
- Unplugging from social media (and email) is good for the soul.
I learned other things too (like how to dye/bleach my hair like it’s 1999 – absolutely not meant for Instagram!), but these are the lessons from my hiatus that stand out.
How does this apply to writing?
Simply put: Persist.
No matter how messed up everything seems, write. No matter the reason you write (escapism, making sense of the world, etc.), make something that will outlast the trolls. Write despite what’s going on in your life. And if need be, write to spite.
Resist turning your back on writing because it’s hard. Some days will be excruciating – like trying to beat a super hard level in Fishdom without any boosters. Other days the words will fill the blank page without any effort.
Take time for yourself. Unplug. Put your cell phone on aeroplane mode. Ignore the world and just write. Or take a spa day. Whatever you need to do to keep the Muse happy and the inspiration tank full. Don’t let anyone tell you your time is better spent on anything else than yourself, and that taking time to recharge is a crime/selfish/fill-in-the-awful-thing-they-say-here.
Look in the mirror in the morning and say: “I’m a writer. I’m a kick-ass creator of worlds, drama and whatever-ending-I-want.” And stand in a superhero pose for five minutes (it really does boost confidence.)
Don’t ask for permission. No-one will give it to you. You need to do it yourself. Your stories are all full of your beliefs, hopes, fears – and brimming with the sum total of your existence. Including those things/people you’ve experienced, loved and hated.
Trusting your gut is about more than writing what you know. It’s about forging your own path, creating your own map. It isn’t about a beautiful math equation with a sensible formula. Art hurts.
Stop overthinking everything and enjoy the process of creating. Find the fun, the fury, the madness, the melancholy on the page.
Because nothing lasts forever. Except your stories. Friends, frenemies and lovers come and go, but what you write will take on a life of its own and outlive us all.
*Freudian slip n any action, such as a slip of the tongue, that may reveal an unconscious thought – Collins English Dictionary
On to this month’s IWSG stuff.
Working through my inbox, I saw that I was the spotlight member for the Nov/Dec newsletter. Yay! Thanks IWSG admin members 🙂
January question: What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just “know” suddenly you wanted to write?
The sub we had for a month in second grade told me the story I had written for an assignment – which she subsequently read aloud to the class – was better than those of older children she had taught.
My seventh grade Afrikaans teacher, Ms Strydom, encouraged me to read broadly and to write fearlessly.
And my parents have been unwaveringly supportive (especially the last few years).
My writing started because of my love of reading. I don’t think anything specific spurred me on to go on this rollercoaster. I’ve had inspiration, I’ve had support, and I’ve known for a long time that I’m better at expressing myself in the written word than I am in a face-to-face situation (or making a phone call).
I had to take an early vacation in November (I did complete NaNoWriMo early, FIY). I was completely knackered. Reading through some of the things I wrote then, I know now that I was right not to submit those stories to the various competitions and anthologies. Those tales seem as kaput as I was at the time of writing them.
But can I revive them now? Is there any point in trying to make them shine as much as I know they can, as I envisioned them? In more Grey’s Anatomy wisdom: Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. (Ellis Grey had said this to Meredith when she was a little girl.)
Yet, my gut says: Persist!
(Though that might be the result of various adventures in the kitchen this summer…)
What about you? How was your summer/winter break? Do you have an answer for this month’s IWSG question? Any wisdom to share?
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