IWSG: Shiny New Idea Syndrome

December 5, 2018

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer advice and encouragement.  Click here to find out more about IWSG and see a list of participating blogs.

As I said in a recent post, I have a lot on my mind right now.  Good stuff.  Writing-related stuff. But still, it’s hard to focus on actual writing when I’m so distracted by writing-related ideas.

So for today’s episode of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I going to turn the floor over to my muse.  She has something she’d like to say, and maybe it’s something your muse would like to hear.

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Hello, I’m James’s imaginary friend, also known as his muse. It’s totally normal for adults to have imaginary friends, especially when those adults are writers.

It seems that I have created a problem for myself and my writer.  I recently brought him a new idea.  What is this idea?  That’s not important right now.  It’s a new idea, and it’s a really good idea (if I do say so myself), and that’s all that matters right now.

That was not the reaction I was hoping for. It’s one thing for a writer to be excited about a new idea, but quite another for a writer to get overexcited. Overexcited writers are a danger to themselves, their muses, and every single character in their story worlds.

As a muse, obviously you have to bring your writer great ideas, the best ideas you can find lurking in the depths of the subconscious. I do want my writer to use this new idea.  I wouldn’t have brought it to him otherwise.  But it’s a tricky thing, getting my writer to keep things in perspective, making sure he does not neglect all his other writerly duties.

So, my fellow muses, what do you do to keep your writers in line when a shiny new idea gets them a little too excited?

IWSG: Why Writing Isn’t Easy

November 7, 2018

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer advice and encouragement.  Click here to find out more about IWSG and see a list of participating blogs.

You could call this a writing exercise, or you could say it’s a way of flexing the imagination’s muscles.  Every once in a while, I stop whatever I’m doing and ask my muse a question.  I may even write the question down, to make sure she understands it clearly. Then I wait and try to imagine how my muse might answer.  Sometimes, surprising flashes of inspiration come.

If I ask a story related question, my muse tends to get back to me pretty quickly.  Muses are good at figuring out story stuff.  But sometimes I ask bigger questions—real life questions. With those sorts of questions, it takes my muse a little longer to respond.  Sometimes a whole lot longer.

Recently, I asked my muse: “If I was born to be a writer, why is writing so hard for me?”  You see, I’ve always believed that God made me to be a writer, or at least to be a creative person of some kind.  While my feelings about organized religion have changed a lot in recent years, that core belief is still there: writing is my purpose in life.

And yet writing is so absurdly difficult!  Why does it have to be that way?  Just motivating myself to pick up a pen and get started each morning is such a struggle.  I have to wonder why I keep forcing myself to do it.  I feel like Sisyphus pushing a boulder up a mountain only to watch it roll all the way back to the bottom at the end of the day.

Yes, I may be making progress in the sense that I’m getting words down on paper.  Yes, my current WIP is creeping ever closer to completion.  But it doesn’t matter.  Each night, that boulder (which represents my motivation to write) rolls back down the mountain, and each morning my motivation starts at zero once again.

My muse spent a long time pondering my question.  I suspect she may have fluttered off, leaving me alone for a time while she consulted with the High Council of Muses, or maybe she embarked on some other epic quest, fighting dragons and seeking out forbidden muse knowledge.  Days went by.  It was over a week before she came back.  And then she said to me: “Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.”

And of course my muse is right.  There are many things that have come easily in my life; I don’t value those things the way I value the things I had to fight for, or struggle for, or sacrifice for.  Writing is hard work.  It will always be hard work.  And that’s okay because if it weren’t hard work, it would not feel so rewarding when I get my writing done.

IWSG: True Muses Never Leave

September 5, 2018

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer advice and encouragement.  Click here to find out more about IWSG and see a list of participating blogs.

For last month’s IWSG, I wrote about a traumatic experience I recently went through.  It was a difficult thing to write about, and I’m sure it was a difficult thing to read as well.  Thank you to all of you who did read that post and left such kind comments. I realize this is an odd thing to say, but the love and support I received from “strangers” on the Internet meant a lot to me.

I still have some raw emotions about what happened, but I’ve gotten back to writing.  To be honest, I got back to it a whole lot sooner than I expected. I’m not sure how to explain why that happened, so I’ve asked someone else to write a post explaining it for me.  She’s written IWSG posts for me before.  At this point, I’m sure many of you know her well.  She’s the magical fairy person who helps me write: my muse.

My writer has been plagued by a secret fear. This has been going on for years now, but he’s been too afraid to talk about it or write about it.  He’s even tried to conceal certain dark thoughts from me (in case you weren’t aware, muses have mind reading powers). But of course I still sensed this fear stirring in the depths of the subconscious.

So what is this secret fear?  Here’s an easy answer: the fear that I would leave, that I might never come back, that maybe I’d go be a muse for someone else—some new writer who’s more disciplined and talented than the writer I already have. But like all easy answers, this answer is not the full truth.

What really frightened my writer was the thought that maybe, deep down inside, he didn’t really want me around in the first place, that maybe he didn’t really want to be a writer at all, and that maybe he’d be happier doing something else with his life, something that didn’t involve a muse like me constantly pestering him to do his writing.  No matter how much my writer insisted that he wanted to keep writing, there was always that nagging fear that whispered: “you’re wrong, you want to give up.”

Then came the traumatic events that occurred a little over a month ago.  My writer’s been through some painful experiences before—the loss of a parent, a nasty break up—but nothing compares to witnessing a murder.  In the aftermath of what happened, my writer lashed out at me and at writing in general.  He told me to go away.  He told me to never come back because the things I made him write about—death, violence, various other atrocities—suddenly hit way too close to home.

Of course I didn’t leave.  True muses never leave.  It’s not in our nature.  I guess my writer didn’t know that, but he knows it now.  And I didn’t have to wait long before my writer picked up the pen again and asked for my forgiveness (which was easily given).

To my surprise, my writer chose to dive straight back into the story we’d been working on before all this happened—one of those violence and destruction stories.  But that’s what he wanted to do, and with a renewed sense of urgency too, because the casual disregard for human life that would lead one person to kill another—my writer has some things to say about that, things that he only knows how to express in one way: through fiction.

And that’s the secret truth about writers: they may think they can give up on writing, until they actually try to do it. But writers need to write as badly as other humans need to eat or breathe.  It’s in their nature.  I guess my writer didn’t know that either, but he knows it now.

So much for that secret fear.

IWSG: Should Writers Believe in Muses?

July 4, 2018

I know a lot of writers who don’t believe in muses. Sometimes I don’t believe either. I’m a scientifically minded guy. The idea that little magical fairy people are assigned to us writers at birth, that they’re supposed to teach us and guide us through our writing journeys, occasionally providing little flashes of inspiration… none of that sounds particularly scientific.

And that’s okay.  If you’re a writer, you don’t have to believe in muses.  The important thing is that no matter what, your muse still believes in you.

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a monthly blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our writerly worries and offer each other advice and encouragement.  To learn more about IWSG and to see a list of participating blogs, click here.

IWSG: Dreams and Fairy Dust Won’t Pay the Bills… Or Will They?

April 4, 2018

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer advice and encouragement.  Click here to find out more about IWSG and see a list of participating blogs.

As some of you already know, I’ve been going through some stuff.  It started back in December, and the real life problems have just kept coming ever since, one after the other.  It’s been truly unfair.

But I’m recovering, finally.  Those real life problems that have been plaguing me have been resolved, most of them for the better, a few for the worse, but at least they’re resolved and I’m able to move on.

The challenge now is that, during my times of trouble, I seem to have picked up a whole bunch of new writing insecurities, and a few old insecurities have resurfaced as well.  It’s not so much my writing process that I’m worried about but rather my ability to turn writing into a profitable and sustainable career.

Fortunately my muse, who came to my rescue in last month’s IWSG post, has returned to give me some sage advice.

So is my muse right?  I sure hope so.  I’m still dealing with a lot of anxiety, most of it financial in nature, because of the turmoil I just went through.  But I’ve promised my muse that I’ll set that aside, at least while I’m writing, and have faith that so long as I put my best into my stories everything else will somehow turn out okay.

P.S.: I want to mention, because a few people have been asking, that I really wanted to participate in the A to Z Challenge again this year.  I had a plan.  A really good plan. But given the circumstances, I think it’s best if I save it for next year.

IWSG: Why Muses Have Wings

March 7, 2018

If you don’t already know what a paracosm is, please check out my previous post about it. It’s a cool concept, especially for writers.

For today’s episode of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I’ve decided to give you a glimpse into my own paracosmic world. I’ll admit, it’s not a happy place right now, but with the help of my muse it’s getting better.

IWSG: Have I Pushed My Writer Too Hard?

February 7, 2018

For this month’s episode of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I’m going to turn the floor over to my muse. She has something to say, and perhaps it’s something your muse would like to hear.

* * *

Over the last few months, I’ve had trouble getting my writer to be productive. Many of the juiciest story ideas I’ve brought him had to be put on hold because real life keeps getting in the way.

As I reported in my previous Insecure Muse’s Support Group post, I’ve had some success using writing as a distraction from those real world problems. Unfortunately it’s been sporadic success. Some days my writer would get thousands of words down on paper. Other days, I’d find him like this:

To be honest, I think a lot of the problems my writer is dealing with are less severe than he thinks they are, but the fear and the stress still feel real to him. Writing helps calm him down. There’s no doubt about that. But sometimes my writer is so emotionally drained that he just can’t write no matter how badly he needs to.

So I’d like to ask my fellow muses (writers, you can chime in too if you want): how do you know when to push your writer harder and when to let him or her take some time to recover?