Monday, October 27, 2014

Writing through pain

This is a difficult thing for me to write, but I think putting it down on virtual paper will help.  There are loads of blogs and books and magazine articles out there that give writing advice, and the main point comes down to one thing - as Chuck Wendig so eloquently put it, shut up and write.

It's not bad advice - a writer writes, after all, and nothing gets written if someone doesn't sit down (or lie down, or stand up - however you feel comfortable) and write it.  I understand it completely, and it's certainly something I've tried to cleave to since I've decided that being a writer was more important to me than whining about wanting to be a writer.  However, that doesn't mean I write every day, and I know there are a lot of people in a similar situation to mine.

In order to write, you have to be able to hold a pen or pencil, or type, or dictate, or in some other way cause words to bleed onto a page (whether digital or physical).  The act of bleeding words on the page may involve sitting or standing in one place for extended periods of time.  It means putting yourself in the minds of characters you've made up, and deciding how they're going to react to the situations you create for them.  It all sounds reasonably easy, doesn't it?  On good days, it is.

Then there are the bad days.  The days when the pain is so bad that the idea of moving to a desk or lifting your hand to hold a pen or reaching for a laptop can leave you in tears.  The days when the depression lies and tells you that everything you write is terrible and no one will ever want to read it, so why are you bothering to write it down?  The days when the anxiety is so high that your hands shake at the thought of someone - anyone - ever reading what you're writing, and you second-guess every letter and word, certain that someone else has done it better and that people will tear it - and by extension, you - apart, if ever they were to read it.  And of course, there are the days that combine any of the above, or add in the exhaustion that can tag along with the pain or the depression, leaving you with absolutely no energy to move, much less create a world and characters out of thin air.

Sometimes, forcing yourself to write can help push the demons back into the darkness.  The words can be like a lion tamer's chair, forcing the lion back and keeping you safe.  The words may not be great, but they help you focus on something other than the pain, either physical or mental.  Distracting yourself won't work forever, but it can keep you moving for another few steps, and that might be just what you need right now.

Sometimes, no matter how much you want to write, and how much you want to fight and win, you'll lose the battle to the pain.  The physical or emotional pain will be too much, and you won't be able to write.  That doesn't mean you're not a writer.  You can still create worlds and people in your mind, and when you're able to, you can memorialize those worlds and people on paper of some sort.  The fact that you can't do that today doesn't mean you aren't allowed in the super-secret Writers' Club.

"Shut up and write" is solid, if harsh, advice.  First and foremost, though, you need to take care of yourself.  You can't write if you don't.

Progress - wrote about three days of the last seven, mostly in preparation of Nanowrimo.  Still trying to figure out what story I'm telling, but I'm getting there.