A Writer’s Journey To Self Discovery – aka The Intervention

self-discoveryI’ve been interventioned. Intervened? Whatever. I’ve been told to back away from the keyboard and sit my plump ass down.

You know when you watch movies and a group of friends actually stage an intervention and you laugh because you’re like HAHA that shit never happens, and it would definitely not happen to me.

Well it did.

Believe me, post its and actual man sized flip charts were involved.
But before I tell you the story, let me explain… as the year draws to a close, I’ve been getting a wickle bit reflective. Especially because next year is going to be a big year.

I hit the big 3.0, I’ll publish for the first and hopefully second and third time, and there are some other BIG secrets I can’t reveal yet.

But for now, another year has past and while lots of things have been achieved, my dreams have not been met… YET. But instead of being disheartened it force fed me petrol and made the fire inside me burn hotter than a million Kelvin.

Let the reflectioning begin…

My friends, lets call them Black Hole (yes there is a story behind this, no I will not tell you…today ever. Cough.) and Tasmanian Devil (TD) for short.

Black Hole and TD were concerned.

LESSON ONE – I’M A HEAD BURYING BITCH

I was… being abnormal, they said. Acting strange, off colour. It made me raise an eyebrow, because my strange scale and theirs ain’t even close to the same league. So I must have been behaving really fucking weirdly.

Anyway, they decided a dinner was required, they were going to help me sort my writing life out. No laptop required. *my eyebrow inched up another notch*

Dinner was served, eaten and barely digested before the flip charts were pulled out.

We agreed I had a problem. I was overwhelmed. Despite strategic planning,  enough spreadsheets to drown a tech god and To Do Lists that made George RR Martin’s manuscripts look like short stories, I was STILL overwhelmed and it wouldn’t go away.

giphyWe stuck my goals on flip chart and then they ‘suggested’ I lower my word count goals.

Um. No.

No really, they said, lower the word count goal, give yourself more time. The logic was irrefutable… damn their sense making logic mumbo jumbo. 

But I’m not sure they realised what they were saying… Asking a writer to lower their word count is like making a kid stand in the worlds largest sweet shop with their hands handcuffed while wearing a ball gag. Don’t they know I hear voices? They whisper things, scream dialogue if I don’t write it down. They rattle my brain until I have so much static I vomit words…literally.

A silent war raged over the dinner table. Death by squinty-eyed rage darts, jaws clenched and flexed violently enough to crush cars and there was an excess of hand yanks through hair.

giphy-2Even after I agreed to extend my word counts the pressure hadn’t lifted. Word counts weren’t the problem. Then I leant back in my chair and realised I’d been covering another post it goal. Turns out when they asked about that bad boy I nearly broke down.

My subconscious had been covering the one thing I didn’t want to talk about. Insert epiphany as I realise this was most definitely not the first time I’d done this! I always joke about burying my head. But apparently I do. Awkward.

But the intervention and head burying is only one of many things I’ve learnt about my writing this year.

What have you learnt about your writing, writing process or mindset? Let me know in the comments below.


LESSON TWO – I’M NOT SUPERWOMAN AKA LIMITS & BARRIERS

It’s not that I have superhero syndrome, I mean, I only fly on Tuesday nights, but apparently I can’t do everything. I tried. HARD. Like lived off 4 hours sleep and drank enough coffee to sink my coal covered heart into a cardiac specialist consultants room, #truestory.

But it’s less about doing everything and realising that I don’t have to do everything. Sounds like one of those obvious dumbass things you should know, but apparently I didn’t. This year has taught me I don’t have to be good at everything. I can be excellent at some things and just okay at others, AND fuck me, THAT’S OKAY. No one died, no one drowned in a vat of self-loathing because they got a B+.

If I want to be excellent at writing, I can only be mediocre at something else. That’s life baby and it was a fucking cut glass pill to swallow, hurt like fuck to go down, but at least I only had to learn that lesson once.

This ones dedicated to my amazing hypnotist friend.


LESSON THREE – NO MAN IS AN ISLAND OR SOME BULLSHIT LIKE THAT

See, I could learn everything, I could learn to chisel diamonds into spears, the location of every dolphin on the planet, the number of wooden forks located in Romania, wait… I mean I could learn to code, learn to migrate my website, and master the nuances of formatting and all the other detailed bullshit that goes with authoring. But I don’t have to. Maybe I shouldn’t have to, because what I want to do, ALL I want to do is write books.

I dont have to be amazing at everything. I just have to be amazing at writing. And I’m not. Yet. Because I pissed about with loads of other bullshit, stressed my curly little head off when I should’ve just asked for help.

Wait what? I can ask for help? WTF… I CAN  ACTUALLY ASK FOR HELP?

FFS. I will chain myself to the laptop and whip myself with writing sprints later for this one later.

In my defence, the idiot part of my brain thought that paying someone else to do something for me was failing. Well fuck that. It’s not failing. Its efficient and more importantly a better use of my very fucking limited time. Why struggle through weeks of stress and not writing when I could just pay someone else to do it in a few minutes?

Publishing books, even as an indie, is a team effort, I’d do jolly well to remember it.

Note to self: Yeah dumbass, you won’t make that mistake again will you? Dick.


LESSON FOUR – INTRO, EXTRO ALL THE ‘TRO

I am both introvert and extrovert. Greedy bitch eh! But it’s true. Put me in a small group of friends and I’ll seem like the only extrovert. But put me in a room full of new people, or suggest something social without my nearest and dearest and I break out in awkward social STD’s. I shrink away from most social events, choosing instead to spend time with myself and my stories, and I need that to regenerate.

BUT, and it’s a big but, I definitely think externally. Unlike introverted thinkers, I need to do things with my hands, work shit out, bounce ideas off other people and scrawl stuff with my grubby mitts.

If I have a book problem I can’t just write through it like some authors, I have to stop and problem solve physically. It’s like my brain is only partially located in my brain, the other half of it firmly resides in my finger tips.

I need to remember this, and know it’s okay. We all have different processes, methods and mechanisms of writing. What works for one, won’t necessarily work for me.


LESSON FIVE – I STILL DON’T HAVE A FREAKING CLUE WHAT I’M DOING

Seriously. Okay, I mean, I’m not walking round slack jawed, goggle eyed, arms hanging like an ape. But I am still regularly fucking my shit up.

One minute I am pantsing the next I am stopping mid book to plot. Sometimes I outline, others I don’t. Sometimes I edit backwards, then I spontaneously edit forwards. The only thing I do consistently is embody complete and utter chaotic spontaneity. It’s like my signature writing perfume. But it’s fucking annoying, and inefficient.

One thing I am sure of, is that my writing processes for fiction is totally different from non-fiction. I still don’t know if I am a plotter or a planner, (somewhere in the middle I suspect) but still, my process is as clear as swamp juice.

I’m like an inebriated kid who just had the training wheels taken off their bike. Almost there, but swerving all over the shitting street. A bit more practice and I might have it sorted. But that’s for next year…!


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August welcome

43 comments

  1. Oh, I recognise so much of me and my chaotic writing life in this. I take on projects that take me away from what I want to be writing then I get stressed and depressed because I’m not getting on with it.
    However, I have this month dumped two projects which have been causing nothing but grief and the world just kept on turning. I have one thing to complete before Christmas and next year is going to be different. Yes, it is.

    1. Teehee – a few people have said that – I LOVE LOVE LOVE that I am just going through what everyone else is! Makes me feel SO much better about my chaotic mess for a brain. HIGH FIVE to you for dumping projects, hardest but best thing you could have done šŸ˜€

  2. I can relate, Sacha, particularly to the need to vomit words. Ha ha. If I keep them inside, I get cranky. The rest… I think we’re all searching for balance, tugged in too many directions, trying to do it all to a degree. We’re running with sissors, 3 year-olds on delirious second winds. It’s part of this writer journey, the fire in the belly. But interventions are good, slowing down is necessary at times. We need to tap into mellow times to capture that experience and perspective for our stories; I think our work requires it. Enjoy the ride. And Happy Almost 30!

    1. Thank you Diana, you’re so right we do need to tap into mellow, I don’t do that often enough sadly. I might have to make it goal for 2017! :p

  3. If I’ve learned anything, it’s patience with self. Writing is not a pretty career. Nor is it instantaneous gratification. More like delayed gratification. But it reveals who you are and who’s to judge that two steps forward one step back is a bad dance? Know your dance. Accept it. Embrace it. But keep dancing. Unless you really have come to the conclusion you don’t like dancing, or writing. Often, it’s our own expectations that make us feel we have to write faster, longer. I proved three times I could crank out more than 50,000 words in a single month. But I have to acknowledge it takes years for me to revise. Do I wish I was also a revise-in-a-month kind of writer? Desperately! But I’m not and I have to work with that. I also have to acknowledge that sometimes the platform plan falls to shit. I thought I was ready to enact my local component, went at it with gusto, holding events and live flash fiction reading, developing a teaching outlet through the library, freelancing articles to build local relationships…then I became homeless. I have no local. Everything I built to launch an anthology is gone. Everything. Accept the anthology. Ah, the lesson there is that the writing remains. It’s our constant. Be gentle with yourself. Love the dance because it’s going to be a long one.

    1. Oh man, I mean I might be good at some stuff, but patience ain’t one of them stuffs! hahah and I bet that doesn’t surprise you either.

      I love that, know your dance, embrace it. That is like philosophy gold. Such truth. STILL hard to accept. Our society is not kind to us, it does not want us to be individual or dance in our own way. It wants control. Drones. Slaves. I will not go quietly into that good night.

      It was a horrid thing that happened, but you’re right, you still have the anthology and you still have the writing. Cling to it. Grip with all your might and power and we will survive. Together. Community.

    1. Pahhaa, you’re not the first person to say I described a lot of writers – and what a relief it is to know I am not alone! I mean seriously though – I can’t believe I asked for help, and now I can’t believe it took so long to ask for help! What an idiot!

  4. Patience.

    One step at a time.

    There is nothing wrong with setting REASONABLE goals, and even writing them down and getting up each morning and reading them out loud to remind you that you have those goals.

    One day in 1968 (or was it 1969) I decided I wanted to write books and be a published author, the same day I heard Ray Bradbury speak in person on stage at the local community college I was attending. I’d already been an avid reader from about the age of 9 or 10 and had read thousands of books by the time I turned 23. It was easy to shift from avid reader to avid writer/reader.

    My goal to become a published author didn’t materialize until December 2007, almost 40 years later; about 10 years and four published books, and a few literary awards for every published book, later, with almost 100,000 downloaded or printed copies read by readers, I’m currently working on the next book, number 5, with a goal to write 5 in that series. And new ideas are already swimming out of the fog of creativity for the books that will follow those 5.

    My written goals run for 7 days at a time before I write the goal for the next 7 days. In that 7 day period, to reach that goal, I have to achieve a very reasonable amount of writing/editing/revisions. That way I even have time to mow the lawn each week, sleep, watch DVDs for almost 2 hours each night, read a bit, eat, etc.

    To reach the published -uthor goal, I wrote more than a dozen unpublished, book length manuscripts, collected hundreds if not thousands of rejections from traditional publishers (a few almost made it to the finish line); earned a BA in journalism to improve my wiring sckills; earned an MFA in writing to improve my writing craft; attended writing workshops out of UCLA for 7 years to improve my writing skills/craft, etc.

    I’m still learning.

    I’m still writing.

    I’m still setting REASONABLE goals, one step at a time, while remembering to be patient and calm on most days. I also still fucking cuss like any former U.S. Marine can, when the need arises. Instead of running in formation with a hundred other jar-heads singing cadence about boobs bigger than a bucket, I write about them.

    1. I know there’s nothing wrong with it, but my god do I find it hard to be ‘realistic’ I just want to do EVERYTHING! That is quite the list of accolades there Lloyd, I am well impressed, also reassuring to know that over time I will achieve things, even if it does take (what feels like ages!). Your swearing does make me laugh šŸ˜› :p.

  5. I’m surprised at you! You’re a psychology grad ffs! But perhaps its easier to see in others than yourself. This writing lark is such a huge learning curve for us all, and its totally different for each of us, which is why success is so impossible to replicate. For what it’s worth, I think you’re doing great! šŸ’•

  6. I’m a control freak too, so I get the difficulty in handing something over to someone else. I mean, what if they do it wrong? What if they do it, gasp, *differently* to how I’d do it?!

    But four hours of sleep and a million cups of coffee? Nope. I need eight and a half hours sleep to function at my best, and I try to get at least seven and a half a night.

    I’m glad you have awesome IRL friends to rein you in when you’re going overboard with the crazy. Here’s to getting help so you can put more time into being awesome at the writing!

    1. SO glad it’s not just me! Yes Yes Yes to all those points/questions. Oh wow, 8 hours kip? I mean that would be unheard of over here, but mostly because of the small human that inhabits my abode and tugs on my leg demanding food! Thank you for stopping in šŸ˜€

  7. I am SO glad this happened. I am so, ridiculously giddy. I’m going to have a fit. (Also, I’m going to ignore the fact that you don’t listen to me. Or even mention it on here. Oops…look at that. I just did.) Look at you. I’d say you’re even more of a Wonder Woman now than you were before. I hope these lessons stick or I’ll send you a link to this post every time I see you getting out of line. šŸ˜€ Oh, the joy! Payback.
    And thanks for this as I need it so very badly right now and I can’t very well tell you you’re right then not do it. I mean… I can but that’s just asking for trouble.

    1. LOL. I mean yeah. But also no…. cause like, if I pay someone to do something, then I free myself up to do other stuff, which is technically more… *snigger* not helping myself am I! I am awful and you are right! :p

  8. I did wonder how you managed to do all that you do, Sacha! But I totally get it – writing consumes me too, I am with you when you say ‘all that I want to do is write books’. And when you said about how you only have to be awesome at the thing you love doing (you know what I mean), that was a real lightbulb moment for me! Been thinking about it since your place (and thanks so much again, it was awesome xx) So, how are you feeling since your ‘intervention’ took place?

    1. Haha, I don’t. I neglect a social life, don’t sleep, and drink too much coffee! SO glad I am not the only one that feels that way, it really is an addiction. I crave words on a daily basis! I just wish I’d realised sooner nothing else matters and Master of one is better than Jack of all. SIGHHHHHH. Glad you had a good time, I LOVED it, we were all gutted when you left! <3 I do feel better - it was all because I wasn't self hosted and that wasn't in line with my business plan. So now, I've fixed that! and I feel LOADS better. šŸ˜€ šŸ˜€

      1. I loved it too! I was soooo sad when I had to leave. Was talking to Suzie about that writing retreat we talked about – I’ll send you the link for the place šŸ˜€ And I’m really glad you’re feeling better, and got all your self-hosting stuff fixed xx

  9. Um, you have been writing about me. In fact, you may have been writing about many writers. Welcome to the wacky world baby! That’s what it’s all about, enjoy the Hokey Pokey. But do not kill yourself over it and have to see a damn cardiologist! You’re still in the process of finding your rhythm. You’ve taken on too much of a mouthful at once and you’ll get the pace. And maybe you’ll always be half a plotter and half a pantser, heck I am, that’s how I roll, that’s how I work, and I’m good with that. You just need to get good with yourself because you’re doing a phenomenal job my friend!!!!! xoxo <3

    1. Well, it’s a huge comfort to know that I am not the only one going through this – I actually love it when people tell me it sounds like them, because isn’t that what this is about? Finding people we share our creative lives with, our experiences, highs and lows? It just means the world, ya know? But umm… ahem… cough. One might have done too much. COUGH.

  10. I still think you are super woman, I mean even she has to occasionally take a break from crime fighting to maintain a day job if only to keep up appearances and occasionally clean her house because being an undercover superhero certainly doesn’t pay well enough to be able to afford a regular cleaning service.

    The important thing is you are one step closer to beating those villains (or one super VILLAIN back).

    1. haha. Thank you <3 <3 or one super villain... wink wink... let's hope so. I'm stuck, but shh. don't tell my accountability partner, she will crucify me. She's mean like that.

  11. Late to the party as always but there is SO much WIN here. We tend to think it’s all or nothing, sprint to the finish or die trying. It’s real easy to miss out on the journey, the growth, and discovery. And smokes, I really miss smokes. o_0 Not really germane (or Tito) to the conversation but anyway, thanks, as always, Sis. You’re aces.

    1. haha I am definitely with you there, I am an all or nothing kinda gal for sure. But you’re right, part of the journey is about the JOURNEY! you need to enjoy it for what it is, the moments, the wins, the losses. Or when you get to the finish line you have nothing.

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