01 October 2014

A long, loud scream (& ROW80 Round 4 Goals)


Photo by Rick Campbell
My feet-dragging turned into a full-blown crisis of confidence when I sat down to apply to a couple of writing residencies yesterday. While I still found my artist's statement inspiring, as I read through my completed stories, rolling my eyes at any perceived imperfection, all I could think was, "This isn't good enough. I'm not good enough."

Good enough for what? For someone to pick me, to think I'm worth investing in as a writer. Good enough to have someone give me free room and board and possibly to pay me a stipend as well. Good enough for someone else to think it's any good.

My writing doesn't fit the contemporary trend. It doesn't fit what I was taught was "good writing" in my college creative writing courses. It doesn't look or sound like the writing I admire. There is an element of my writing not yet being equal to my taste level, but more than that it's an issue of my writing being different.

But different isn't bad; it's just...different. The reason my writing doesn't sound like anyone else's is because it's my unique voice, and that's never been put out there before. I'm making conscious decisions about style and subject that are risky because they're unpopular right now. But you know what? Publishers didn't like Virginia Woolf's style at first, either. (Not that I'm a Virginia Woolf. Just saying.)

What I finally realized yesterday is that I'm at another crossroads in my career. The first step for me was deciding to give this whole writing thing a solid go, which I did two years ago. Now the question I face is: Do I keep writing despite the lack of encouragement or appreciate I may get from my peers in the writing world, or do I say, "Well, I gave it a shot," and give up?

Obviously I'm not giving up.

How, then, do I move forward again? How do I overcome the crisis of confidence and get back into a daily writing practice after nearly two months of neglecting my creative projects?

In the last week or two, I've noticed that I've been getting creative ideas. A story idea or a line or an image will pop into my head. But instead of writing it down, I let it fade. Why? Because I've judged them prematurely and decided that, while they may be entertaining or interesting to me, they're not worth the energy it would take to actually write them down.

Wait, what? My Muse gives me a present, and I say, "Oh, that's really nice and I like it, but it would take too much effort for me to raise my arms to accept it, so you can keep it. Or let it fall on the ground. Whatever."? Well now that's just rude.

I've noticed in the past that the more I validate my ideas by writing them down - even if they don't turn into full-blown stories or poems, even if I never look at them again - the more ideas I have, the more excited I feel about writing, and the more energized I feel by doing it. 

So step one: quit judging. Write it all down. Go to my journal and write down the few things I remember from the past week that I didn't write down in the moment. And then step two: start showing up on a daily basis and continue writing down everything, regardless of whether I think it's any good.

And this brings me to...

ROW80 Round 4 Goals
"A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life."

I have four goals for the final round of ROW80 2014, which starts on Monday, October 6th. (Omg, the year is almost over already?!? Whaaaa???). In order of importance, these goals are:

Show up to writing 2-3 hours/day. At this moment in time, it's not appealing to me to try to dictate what projects I work on. Of course I want to finish some of the things I've gotten underway, but it's more important for me to reestablish and maintain a daily writing practice than it is for me to finish writing a particular thing.

Be an active ROW80 sponsor. I've volunteered to be a sponsor for this round of ROW80. Yay! Sponsoring involves writing one inspirational post that'll go up on the ROW80 blog at some point during the round and checking in with participants twice a week. Last time I sponsored, I learned a lot from the other participants and strengthened my sense of being in a writing community, so I'm looking forward to this.

Read for fun. Reading good writing ignites my creativity. Reading bad writing inspires me to write. Therefore reading is important to my writing process. Plus, it's something I can do that doesn't take a lot out of me and doesn't involve staring at a computer screen. So to start with, my goal is one book a week. Unless it's Stephen King's The Stand (which is over 1,000 pages and took me nearly two weeks to read), I should be able to read any book in a week or less. Of course I'm not limiting myself to only one book a week, especially if I happen upon a series that sucks me in and doesn't let go. ;*)

Continue posting twice a week on this blog. Writing posts for this blog prompts me to reflect on my writing life, which I find useful. It's kind of like being my own writing coach. It also provides a medium for connecting with other writers who have similar experiences. And yes, it's also my business site, and posting regular content is one of my marketing strategies. All excellent reasons to maintain quality content here.

What are your writing goals for this fall? Are you going to participate in ROW80, NaNoWriMo and/or some other writing challenge? What do you do to break free from a crisis of confidence?


  1. Simone, congrats on getting these words down! And for committing to writing again every day. And for signing up to be a ROW80 sponsor (me too). Your honesty and tenacity are inspiring. Just remember that you only need ONE of those writing residencies to say yes, so get those apps out there.

    You asked what I do to break free from a crisis of confidence? Well, today I cut my hair, wrote some blog posts and a poem, and am getting ready to jump into a daily poem for October and NaNo in November. At times, my commitments to others make it difficult to write easily, but I know I will persevere, word by word, line by line into the stories I write.

    1. Thank you, Beth! I actually decided not to apply to any writing residencies this year, and I feel much better for having made the decision.

      Amazing what an effect a haircut or a new item of clothing can have, right? Even if it is temporary. Writing blog posts and poems - hooray! When you write a poem a day, what do you tell yourself about them? Do you want them to be publishable? Are they play? Practice? Are you working toward a book of poems?

  2. So enjoyed your honest post. I am the beginning of this writing life and feel at times that I can never measure up. I agree with you that I just have to sit doqwn and write and that I have to capture any ideas as they come. I seem to be doing that more lately - usually after I have gone to bed! All the best in achieving all your goals - they are all achievable.

    1. Thanks, Beverley! Yes, for me a lot of it stems around paying attention to what ideas, memories, etc. are floating around in my head and making time to jot things down. I've been there, too, with having to switch the light back on over & over to write things down. Equal parts exciting and annoying.

  3. I'm glad you've decided to keep on, Sione. And 'stop judging' is good advice to yourself, though I know it's hard to do in practice. I've got my fingers crossed that your writing times are happy and productive.

    1. SO hard. But yes, it's an important practice, so I keep trying. Thanks for pulling for me!

  4. Just checking in to let you know I'm here to cheer you on and learn more about your goals as the round progresses :-)