It’s been awhile since I felt true joy when writing. That lose-myself-in-the-story kind of feeling that happens when the words shoot like water from some hidden spring and flow to the page. That’s not to say I’m not pushing forward with my WIP or that I don’t have days when I jump up from the keyboard and congratulate myself on writing “a damn fine scene.” I am; I do.
And I still love writing, maybe more now then ever. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about my story, or talking about it, or storyboarding different components.
Right now the writing force is with me.
Still, writing feels a little different these days. The joyous moments are getting farther apart and happening less frequently since McD ended. There’s more pressure now (all self-imposed) and I’m beginning to wonder why I feel the need to make arbitrary deadlines and then stress about hitting them? I have a day job so I’m not being pushed by money (nor do I think I’ll get rich writing) and I don’t answer to an agent or editor (yet). So what’s up?
I think whatever it is started when I began to refer to my WIP as “the damn book”. As in, I need to finish the “damn book”. Yes, we use that term tongue-in-cheek here and it’s not really our stories we’re cursing, but our own inability to make progress on them. Still, cursing our WIP is sort of like laughingly calling ourselves fat or ugly or stupid. That kind of negative self-talk is counter-productive.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to be working on this book in ten years. On the other hand, in some ways I feel like I’ve just started. What I’m writing now isn’t the same story I began a year and half ago when I started McD, and it’s only recently that I’ve begun to apply the writing tools necessary to write a good story. So why am I kicking myself because I’m not finished with my draft?
At McD we had a forum called “The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to the Girls”. It was a place to pump up the girls (and ourselves) by being positive about our writing skills. I’m thinking of starting something similar for my WIP. I think I need to nurture my characters and my story a little more instead of treating it (and talking about it) like it’s something I can’t wait to get rid of.
I think it’s important that we set goals and push ourselves to meet them or to compete in contests or to pitch for practice at conferences. I’ve found these things to be great motivational tools that used judiciously can keep me moving in the right direction. But they can also become burdensome and stressful if the timing isn’t right.
Next week I’m leaving for AZ (Jeanne E will be subbing for me next Friday, so look for her here!) and I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to this trip. I can’t wait to travel roads unknown, to let each day unfold with the joy of possibilities without deadlines. I want to do the same with my writing and make keeping the writing joy alive my priority. Heaping stress on ourselves kills the joy, and God knows we writers need the joyous moments.
So from now on, no more cursing my “darling” WIP. It will be finished when it’s finished. Period.
Do you still feel the joy on a regular basis, and if not, what can you do to recapture it?