Hello, friends!  Welcome to this month’s meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a group that supports writers who might feel a little insecure about their writing.  If you’d like to learn more about IWSG and see a list of participating blogs, click here.

This may be one of the hardest thing for people to understand: sometimes, two mutually contradictory statements can both be true.  Here’s an example.  I love writing.  Also, I hate writing.  Let me unpack what I mean.

First off, I really do love writing.  It’s the single greatest source of joy and pleasure in my life.  Being something of an ethical hedonist, I’ve been trying for years now to maximize the joys and pleasures of my life.  In other words, I’ve been trying to squeeze more writing time into my schedule (as well as more time for other sources of personal joy, like drawing and reading).

I cannot take full credit for this pun.  Versions of this have been circulating the Internet for years.

In order to keep maximizing my writing time, I’ve slowly been transitioning from writing as a hobby to writing as a career.  But (this is the tricky part) if writing is my job now, if I’m not writing purely for my own amusement anymore, then I have to set a production schedule.  I have to deal with word count quotas and deadlines and other boring stuff like that.

And when I’m up against a deadline (self-imposed or otherwise), it tends to stunt my creativity and spoil my fun.  Writing starts to feel like a chore.  I am not at my writerly best when writing feels like a chore.  I don’t want to do it anymore.  All of a sudden, I hate writing.

It really are the deadlines that ruin writing for me.  Case in point: I’m writing this IWSG post well in advance of IWSG day, rather than scrambling to get it done the night before.  And I feel like this is turning out to be a much more expressive and honest post than what I typically write for IWSG.  Or at least, I feel a lot happier with this post than I normally do.

But if I want to make a career out of writing (and I do!), then I will have to learn to accept the bad with the good.  I have to learn to live with this tension in my writing life: I love writing, and also I hate writing.  I’m not really looking for advice here, by the way.  I am merely acknowledging to myself and to you that this is the way things are, and I’m trying to be very zen about the whole situation.

So this is what the writing life is like for me.  Perhaps some of you, my fellow insecure writers, understand what I’m talking about.

10 responses »

  1. It seems like anything you have to do becomes work. I remember when I did my Nanowrimo novel years ago. It would have been a much more enjoyable process without the relentless need to get in at least 1700 words every evening. There were aspects of the story where I wanted to pause and do research, but there wasn’t time. At the same time, I knew if I had gone down some research rabbit hole, it might have been weeks before I emerged.

    It’s similar to when I did programming for a living. Suddenly, something I had enjoyed as a hobby became how I paid the bills, and at points it felt like a burden, particularly on projects that demanded long hours.

    Mix in impostor syndrome, which I think most writers suffer from, and you have to wonder sometimes how any writing gets done.

    Liked by 2 people

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      Ah yes, imposter syndrome. That’s a subject for another time, I think!

      I’ve never tried Nanowrimo. My writing process generally involves stopping, backtracking, and re-editing the stuff I just wrote. Which is exactly what they tell you not to do if you’re doing Nano. I also have to stop sometimes and do research.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve only done Nanowrimo once, more just to prove to myself I could do it. The pressure did make me productive, but I can’t say I enjoyed it. The trick for me is to find some compromise that raises my productivity without making it feel like such a whipping.

        Liked by 1 person

      • J.S. Pailly says:

        I do think it’s good to give Nano a try. Thing is for me, by the time I first heard about Nano, I was already very much set in my ways. My writing process works well enough for me (usually), and I don’t like to mess with it too much.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Kimberly Lajevardi says:

    Schedules can stopper up writing flow for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. emaginette says:

    Well said. I just love it but I don’t put the same pressure on myself. Deadlines are deadlines and I’ll meet them. That’s all I know. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ahtdoucette says:

    I definitely hear you on the love/hate relationship with writing. It often makes me think of the saying that the opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference. I’m now in a job (the library) that I love, but I’ve also been thinking somewhat longingly of returning to the freelance writer state. There are pluses and minuses to both. Working for yourself takes discipline. All the best to you as you make the transition!

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      Thanks! For all the frustration that’s come up during this transition, I’m still glad I’m doing it.

      Working in a library sounds like fun to me, but I can see how it might have it’s downsides. There are pluses and minuses with all things in life.

      Like

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