How Confident Are You (As A Writer)?

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*Note: I’m participating in the #Write28Days (February) hosted by Anita Ojeda. Click here if you would like tp participate. 

 

So, really, how confident are you in yourself as a writer and in your writing abilities?

Personally, I can say without hesitation that I have very little confidence in myself as a writer, and many times this lack of confidence stops me from writing.

How sad is that?

What’s holding me back? What am I really afraid of?

Fear of failure? Of what others think about my stories and poems? Fear of success?

What???

The only answers that keep coming back to me are:

I need to write.  I need to tell my story-in my own way.  The price is too high NOT to write.

Again, what??? These tell me nothing about what I’m afraid of.

Then, another answer rings through my head:

My writing has to be perfect. If I can’t get it just right with the first try, why bother? I’ll never be good enough anyway.

Oh…yeah…this one cuts deep.  I keep going back to trying to be good at that one thing. It’s the search that never ends. It all goes back to my childhood when my (hearing) disability made me feel inferior to other normal kids (because they’d thought me strange because I spoke funny, or heard things incorrectly and they’d laugh at me, or called me “booby” when I acted clueless to what was going on around me, etc.). Or when I learned I was slowly losing my sight at the age of 21 just when I was beginning to get a feel of what I wanted for in a career, and this diagnosis shook my confidence, no, it destroyed it, and I gave up any and all aspirations.

On the other side, people who’ve known me for most if not all of my life would tell me how feisty I was when I was younger, how much harder I worked at something when the others believed I’d never be able to accomplish, and I’d do just that, how the guy who used to call me names found out one day he’d pushed me too far when I shove him against a wall with a hockey stick (he never bothered me again after that), and on and on.  My own mother said I was the strongest person she’d ever known, and how I was an inspiration to her.

Now, I look at the mirror and I can’t see that girl anymore.

Where did she go?

But, the real question is:

Will she ever return? Is it possible to become that girl again? 

I can’t help but  to feel so lost. How did I end up being this lost? But, is that necessarily a bad thing? A quote I read some time ago came back:

Sometimes the only way to ever find yourself is to get completely lost.” – Kellie Elmore

I feel there is truth to this quote. I also believe that the path to re-discovering myself will be through writing; and in writing, I believe I will regain my confidence.

 

 

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3 Reasons As To Why You Should Accept Your Flaws (As a Writer)

 

 

You know the saying, no one is perfect, right?  Yet, so many are trying to be perfect, and failing miserably at it. Including writers.

Especially writers!

I don’t think I’ve known very many writers who didn’t give a darn about the quality of their written work. In fact, many of us get so hung up in believing that our writing needs to be perfect before we can send it out into the world. The problem is, this way of thinking is probably the number one reason why nothing gets completed (and in many instances, even started).

Heck, perfectionism is one of the root causes of the so-called “writer’s block.”

What a writer to do?

Here are some reasons why we should accept those flaws as writers.

!. It lowers the stress level.  I think Stephen King was on to something when he said:

“As with all other aspects of the narrative art, you will improve with practice, but practice will never make you perfect.”

No matter if you’re an unpublished writer or a prolific, best-selling author, the writing craft is a life-long apprenticeship where there are no masters.  Instead of agonizing over your struggles in grasping certain grammatical rules, realize that we all have issues with them. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. You will never get the story “perfectly” written in the first draft. The sooner we accept that, the easier the words will flow.

 

2. Your flaws are what sets you apart from the others.

“Flaws are what makes people most interesting.” -Minh Tan

Some of the most interesting people in the world have been writers and the first one to come to mind is Ernest Hemingway. Aside from his flamboyant and active lifestyle, he was noted for his writing style. He lived in a time where literary (aka elaborate) writing dominated; but his style ran counter to this. He preferred to write lean descriptions while relying more on dialogue and action to tell the story. Many, at first, viewed this to be a flawed writing style; instead, he gained notoriety and eventually won many awards (including the Nobel). His writing style wasn’t the only reason for his success; it was also the kind of stories, their characters and content, that set him apart from the other writers of the time. Much of this was due to his wartime experiences as well as his battles with mental illness and alcoholism. All of these were responsible for fundamentally shaping  his style of writing.

He was an imperfect man who wrote unforgettable stories.  So, embrace your flaws and make them your strengths rather than view them as weaknesses.  It is our flaws that will set our writing apart from the others, and it is also our flaws which readers can connect and identify with.

3. Your flaws are part of what makes you, well, you!

I love Ann Lamott. She just has a way with words, and putting things into perspective.

Our flaws can make our creative life messy, but they contain some of the juiciest morsels for our stories. And stories are the reflection of who we are as writers. So, stop trying to be perfect and accept your flaws as mere extensions of who you are as a person, and as a writer.

One last quote from Ann Lamott to ponder on:

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life Besides, perfectionism will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfulness and life force (these are words we are allowed to use in California).”

 

 

 

Starting a New Challenge #Write28Days

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For the entire month of February, I will be participating in a daily blogging challenge called #Write28Day (click on it for more information).

 

Begin

 

Back to the starting point
Easing my muse into yet another story idea
Grateful that she’s willing to oblige-
Immersing both mind and soul in the
New world of our making, not knowing if we’ll ever return to the old

The Birth Of a Writer: My Origin Story

 

*If you’re interested in joining the DIY MFA Book Club to take part in the weekly writing prompts, click here

 

My journey to becoming a writer began when I was about eleven years old. I was a girl, a loner, struggling with being an outsider due to my hearing disability and difficulties with  communication (I spoke funny and didn’t always hear what people said even though I wore hearing aids).  As a result, I spent a lot of time in imaginary worlds and with my imaginary friends. At times, however, this proved dangerous.

An example: A year or so earlier, I was in my basement where I had set up a line of chairs. I was pretending to be Wonder Woman, and wanted to see how far I could jump (or how many chairs I could clear). My imaginary friends kept edging me on, “More! More! Make it longer!” Of course, I didn’t want to look like a poor sport, I added a kiddie rocking chair at the end, and proceeded to jump.

Well, I didn’t make it. In fact, that rocking chair was my undoing as I landed on top of it, straddling it.

I think you get the idea.

I ended up in the ER that evening, and for the next two or three weeks, using the bathroom and stairs were challenging (not to mention, painful!) at best.

Let’s move forward to when I was about eleven years old. My best friend, Melanie (a feisty red-head who didn’t mind my weird lisp and pronunciations) challenged me and a few other classmates to see who could write the “scariest” story. So, I sat down and wrote about a girl who accepted a dare to enter a haunted house where she’d discovered a decapitated head in the fridge. I no longer remember if that girl managed to get out of the house so I’ll just leave it to my imagination. Anyway, what I can clearly remember was how they all reacted when they read my story.  One was totally grossed out by the details, others either squealed or shuttered. I’d loved every reaction.

I then realized that with writing, I could “act” out my imagination without harming myself (or anyone else!). But most of all, after writing that story I felt like I had found something I could be good at. Writing was something I could excel in and not be looked down on as “odd” or as the girl “who spoke funny.”

Writing also gave me that guilty pleasure of making people squirm.

 

Friday’s Story Prompt Challenge #9

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October is the month for all things Halloween related and hence this spooky image.

For this Story Prompt Challenge we’ll use the image and the following setting:

You and your little sister woke up, and discovered you both are in a dark, creepy forest. There is a structure nearby, and the door has opened.

What happens from here will be up to you.  You’ll have until October 26th to write your version of the story (500 words and less). From there an open vote will be taken.  The winner will receive a badge, and the story will be featured on this blog (and if you’re open to the opportunity, be interviewed which would also be included in with the featured story).

*Author’s Note of Apology: In the last Challenge, I’d like to apologize to the sole participant for not creating a video of your story. If you’re still interested, I could go ahead and create one and post to this blog even though it’s a bit late.  Just let me know. 🙂 

The #Writing Life: Struggling To Stay Grounded

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“Maybe, life is a kind of waking dream.
Maybe, it’s a double-dream with a false awakening.” -― David B. Lentz

 

For most of my life, I feel I’ve lived in a dream-like state; not truly experiencing things with all of my senses.  No, rather I’ve lived in imaginary worlds where I can be who or what I desire, or change circumstances more to my liking.

Or, needs.

These imaginary worlds have been my safe havens from the reality of life which had been fairly harsh and painful.  As a defensive mechanism to protect myself (emotional well-being), I would withdraw into them frequently.

Until one day, I had a scare.

I opened my eyes and couldn’t recognize which reality was truly my own.

For mere moments, I couldn’t recall my name or where I lived or remember that I was a wife and a mother.

When the correct reality finally set in, I had to sit down and calm my shaking legs.

I’ve never really known fear…not like this.

What drew me back to earth, my earth, was my family.

My husband. My son.

Being a writer, a creative, it is so easy to lose oneself in other realms of existence that you literally can forget to return to your own.

For the scientific and medical communities, these could resemble a number of mental and psychological disorders, and I can also see why some have even been committed to asylums.

I really don’t want to be one of them.

So, what keeps me grounded in this reality?

My family.

Thank god for them.

 

 

 

Author’s Note:  Life has taken me down a bumpy road lately and I’ve had to deal with some of it instead of being on this blog so forgive my absence.   The Friday Story Prompt Challenge’s schedule has changed because of this (again my apologies).  Look for one on Friday, October 5th though (this one will be different from the others).

#IWSG: Jumpstarting The Writing Process

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

 

 

This month’s question: How do you jump-start your writing after a hiatus?

 

I know. I’m a day late this month. I have a good reason.

Honest! 🙂

It’s a reason, but probably not a good excuse.

Oh, well.

Back in July I left North Dakota and flew down to North Carolina to spend time with my Mom.  About two weeks worth.

Two full weeks without any substantial writing.

I had bought a 5-subject notebook with every intention of filling it up with written words.

Instead, I wrote maybe three pages of short poetry.

Nothing substantial at all.

Yesterday I flew back home.

Today, as I stare at the computer monitor I find myself wondering…where do I start?

When I left two weeks ago, I suddenly dropped all the projects I was working on and took a vacation.  Now, I have no idea on how restart the writing process.

I have lists of what need to be done, but it’s like I’ve hit this wall that I can’t seem to break through to that creative well of inspiration and energy to get the imaginative juice flowing again.

Hmm…

What about you? How do you get back in to your writing groove after a long break?

#ThursdayThoughts: Beethoven

Ever wondered where some of the greatest musicians get ideas for their masterpieces?  Ludwig van Beethoven shed a little light on his creative process below:

 

 

Even for Beethoven, the creative process was a bit of a mystery.

Where do ideas come from?

The Divine?

From some unknown source in the deep recess of our minds?

Wherever the ideas truly come from, I welcome them!

Monday Memoir: An Eccentric Outsider

 

I was almost six years old when I was diagnosed with nerve deafness.  I received my first behind-the-ear hearing aid shortly after the initial visit with Ms. Audrey.   The device helped as I was finally able to hear the sounds around me more clearly.  I could finally hear myself talk as well as whoever was trying to talk to me.

I was now able to understand and learn in school.

It certainly was not a “cure-all” as I was still very much a loner.  An outsider.

I spent the next two or three years attending speech therapy at a distant school.  About twice a week, a transportation vehicle would come and pick me up at the tiny private school I attended, and took me fifteen miles away to a moderate size elementary public school where I met with my speech therapist for our one-hour sessions.   Then I would board a public school bus with kids I didn’t know which took me home.

The speech therapy sessions helped, but I still spoke funny.

My accent was odd.  Out-of-place.

People, kids looked at me with strange expressions.

I felt very much alone most of the time.

Imaginary friends helped me through this period, as they would throughout my life.  Even as an adult, I still have imaginary friends.

Does that make me strange?

An outsider who’s not quite all there?

Hmm…yeah, I guess so.

And you know the funny part about all this?

I’m fine with it.  Totally and completely.

Why?

Because I have an excuse to be strange and odd, and what’s that word that a coworker once used to describe me?

Eccentric.

However, by the time I was eleven I’d developed a slight problem with having imaginary friends.   I started to act out some of the things they wanted me to do or where they wanted me to go.

Adventures in other lands.  Or, more like misadventures.

Like this one time when I was playing with my various superhero friends when one of them convinced me that I was Wonder Woman and could leap over a line of six chairs.   I almost cleared them all.  I ended up straddling a rocking chair and spent that evening in the ER.

When I was eleven my best friend was Melanie.  She was a red-head with a fiery temper.  I can’t remember what sparked the idea but she put out a challenge to see who could write the best short story.  I took the challenge and wrote a story about a haunted house where a girl went in to explore and found a decapitated head in the fridge.  Pretty morbid, but this particular challenge altered my life forever.

That day I learned there were other ways of participating in adventures with my imaginary friends; not to mention, much safer.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the writer within me was born.