Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Got the Writing Ups and Downs? IWSG Post

I've been writing since the sixth grade. I set up my mom's manual typewriter on an old school desk that my dad salvaged from his country schoolhouse. I used to spend summer nights in the nice, cool basement, listening to the radio, and typing away on my stories. I look back on those days with absolute fondness that has nothing to do with rose-colored glasses. It was a good time. It was a marvelous, creative, inspiring time. I conjured characters and insane plots and typed them all, meticulously recording how many pages I'd written on a lined sheet of paper I stuck to the concrete walls with a piece of black electrical tape.

I still have that piece of paper.

But as I have grown older and wiser in this writing gig, I realize that those heady first days of writing were not the norm. The norm also wasn't those dark days of despair when I sat and stared at the keyboard and not one single good idea emerged.

So what is the norm?

Both.

There are heady days full of joy and wonder. There are dark days full of angst and hand-wringing.

Both are intrinsic to the writing life. It's something I'm coming to accept more and more. When I get into a slump, I try not to panic because I know this is part of the cycle. The good part of the cycle will come back around again - I just have to survive long enough for it to show up.

Would it be nice if every single day was a gift from the writing gods, where they sprinkled amazing ideas, beautiful phrases, and witty dialogue into your brain? Sure. But then, would we really recognize the magic of writing if it was magical each and every day? Wouldn't it start to get, well...stale? Boring? Wouldn't magic become just...ordinary?

This is why we need both the good and the bad writing days - to help us keep our perspective, to help us experience all that the writing life has to offer. How else can we translate that experience onto the page? Answer: we can't.

So accept those down days, those days when the writing is hard and you want to chuck your keyboard through the nearest window. Be grateful for them because they show you just how good this writing gig can be.

Embrace them. Learn from them. Use them.

This post is part of the Wednesday postings for the Insecure Writers' Support Group.



18 comments:

  1. You did such a good job portraying those early years of your life as a writer that I could totally "see" the little girl typing away and the lined paper on the wall. :)

    And yes, it is definitely both. ;)

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    1. Thank you. Some of my best memories of my writing life were made that summer!

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  2. The good days certainly help us get through the bad, as does the occasional change of direction. I remember my days of typing on a manual typewriter (before my grandmother bought me an electric one) and being enthralled by what I'd created. Sometimes that feeling returns and it's like gold! Great post :-)

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    1. Oh, I LOVE it when that feeling returns, Linda! It makes all those crappy feelings completely worth it.

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  3. So true, Melissa! It's all part of the process-just as I'm learning that if I wait for a "muse" to inspire me I'll likely be staring at a blank page for a long, long, time. For me, writing takes hard work and discipline-and that is exactly when the stage is set for the magic to happen:)

    And a handful of M&M's nearby helps too:)

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    1. You can't have magic without chocolate! =D
      And yes, it IS hard work. I wish more people understood that.

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  4. I was taught that when you have to work hard for something you appreciate it more. Good luck.

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    1. I think you're right, Diane. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. But the bad writing days are just so bad!

    But when you work through a week of bad days and have one really awesome day, it feels so much better.

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    1. Yeah, they CAN be really bad. I've had those really bad days, too, when I just wanted to quit. Thank goodness we have those really awesome days. =) Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer!

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  6. Yip. Can't appreciate the ups without the downs. It's like saying we wouldn't appreciate light if there was no dark, or happiness if there was no sadness...

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    1. Exactly. :) Thanks for stopping by, Rachel!

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  7. i love this IWSG post, needed the reminder that if all the writing days were good, I would lose appreciation for them. It's so true. My insecurity post is about that lovely (NOT) in-between writing stage...

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    1. I'm glad it helped. I need frequent reminders, too!

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  8. This is such a good post. I needed to read this :-) I am just recently experiencing bad writing days. Its actually been a good thing because I've taken advice like take a walk and eat chocolate. Its working!

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    1. You can never go wrong with taking a walk and eating chocolate! Glad my post helped. :)

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  9. Well put, Melissa. It's all about balance. We need those days to rest and recoup and then realize how great the opposite days are.

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    1. It's achieving that balance that is hard, isn't it? That's why I always have chocolate on hand. ;)

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