Welcome to the Insecure writer’s Support Group post for December 2021.
Well here we are, the day after the end of NaNoWriMo 2021, and I am actually feeling…good? Hyped? Pumped? I reached 50,000 words on Thanksgiving Day, which was fortunate because the rest of the holiday weekend was fraught and full of family drama.
But I won NaNoWriMo 2021, in one of the most stressful years of my life. It provided for me a distraction and an escape from all the [gestures at everything], and I made good progress on the sequel to the book I didn’t finish last year, which means I am now in a good place to go back and finish my book from 2020.
This month’s IWSG question is the following:
In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?
The stresses in my writing life vary over time, depending on many outside factors. But the stress factor which pops up most consistently is when the words just…don’t…work. I don’t mean writer’s block, or any kind of general malaise which prevents me from getting my head in the proper space to put words to paper. I mean the disconnect between the thing I am trying to say and what ends up on the surface in front of me. I have a great idea for a poem or a story, and I sit down to get it out of my head and onto the screen, and the words just kind of…sit there. Whatever energy went into transcribing the multidimensional multimedia images from my imagination down onto the page is now gone. The words are stagnant, uninteresting, completely lost in translation.
Riffing on Michelangelo’s quote about finding the piece of art inside the stone, this particular stone, if I hacked away at it, would only contain a slightly smaller stone. This is the state of mind where I can easily slip into the impostor syndrome mindset, which is difficult to overcome, as it provides its own sort of self-sustaining energy.
In contrast, what delights me the most is when I get some words written and they are exactly what I was trying to convey, and instead of sitting there like a lump of rock, they glow in all their myriad facets of wonder. And even if (to abuse the metaphor) they sit there like a lump of rock, this time they are the rock which contains within it a sculpture of sublime beauty and detail. These are the drafts within which you can already see the story in its final, perfect form, and all you need to do is remove the extraneous and polish the remaining.
The process of writing which results in such a feeling tends to provide its own sustaining energy; the groove or flow or zone where time seems to disappear and I feel like I am writing in an eternal now, though in the mundane world that eternity may only last for a few minutes.
I couldn’t say which I feel more often while writing – stress or delight – but since I am still writing, thirty-plus years after I first started, I would say that a single moment of writing success makes up for almost any amount of writing stress.
The Insecure Writer’s Support Group
is a community dedicated to encouraging
and supporting insecure writers
in all phases of their careers.