When I was asked to write a blog post I immediately started thinking of my topic. What information did I have to share with my fellow writers? Should it be on craft? Maybe about getting published? There are just so many things and I couldn’t decide. So, I started researching. I researched on the internet, books, other blogs, everything! I researched so much that I forgot what I was supposed to be writing. Then I realized, I had forgotten about what I learned about myself as a writer. I tend to over think things. Then, just like that, I knew what I was going to do.
I have been writing since middle school. Back in those days it seemed to be so easy to sit down with my small manual typewriter (guess I just gave away my age) and write. I’m always amazed at the sheer volume of stories I wrote. I mean, there are journals loaded with ideas, short stories, poems. I even wrote a science fiction story! Not that I don’t like sci-fi, I do! In fact, I love sci-fi, but not writing it. What does this tell me as an adult writer?
1) Relax and find that inner child when writing
My husband, who plays guitar, told me that his music instructor tells him to find his inner child when he wants to create. I tossed it off with a laugh. Now, the more I write and live my life as a writer, I realized that he is right! I go back to the mountains of stories I had written as a child. Was it my childhood imagination that allowed that amount of creativity? My ability to see dragons where horses roam, stuff like that? No, it’s the fact that as a child we can completely immerse ourselves in what we want. The outside stresses are gone!
As adults, we find ourselves a slave to our duties and obligations. How many of us sit down to write and remember that we forgot to make that work phone call or see that the laundry needs to be done? It happens to me all the time. As children our main responsibility is to ourselves, not chores or duties. Sure, there was homework but we were always looking for an excuse not to do that, right?
2) Get out of Stuck
Sometimes, when writing I get stuck. I’m sure we all have been there. You are cruising along, fingers flying over the keyboard when suddenly its like hitting traffic on the interstate. You can see it up ahead and start to slow down then before you know it–dead stand still. You crane your neck to see what going on up ahead, accident? Construction? Rubber-necking? You bump along, making barely any progress and you can feel the frustration building. Then the self-doubt starts in like a siren. I do this all the time. Just like I did with this blog post!
I have learned just like when I see traffic ahead to veer off the next exit and hit a side road. Drive around and enjoy the scenery before getting back on the interstate. I save my work, maybe put in that distracting load of laundry or make that phone call for work. Usually, when I get done that stuff I can regroup, sit back down and get back on the highway of creativity.
3) Find a mindless distraction
Overthinking can damage our creative center. Okay, maybe not damage it, but I have found you can overthink so much that it puts you right into that creative traffic jam again. I will find myself having so many ideas, or pieces of ideas, that I can’t see the forest through the trees. Now, organization is not my strong suit. I have friends that story board, fancy software, post-it notes, etc. I marvel at their organization. I would get caught up with the system and never write! The best thing I found for myself is to step away and immerse myself in a mindless task. Maybe the dishes, all that wiping, washing and organizing seems to have a clarifying affect on my creative half. The swirling of ideas settles down and soon, just like the clean wine glasses—clarity!
4) Remember that ideas come from all kinds of places
I have heard that some get their best ideas while sleeping and keep a notebook near so they can wake up and scratch down the idea. I have never had dreams that amount to more than nonsense, or at least what I can remember. So, if you are like me, you have to find ideas in a waken state of consciousness. Personally, I get some of my best ideas in the shower. Somewhere between shampoo and conditioner, my mind is usually spinning full of ideas. Now, that is not the only place you can get ideas. I would encourage you to look at the simple things of everyday, forget the big ticket items like news stations and drama queens! Ideas can be found on church billboards, in a song, a smile, anything that can relay the human experience. Just remember to write them down! Good items can be fleeting, like bubbles in a shower, might pop!
5) Don’t ever give up
The best thing that I have learned is that you can’t give up. Sure, there have been times when I feel like throwing my computer against the wall or want to melt into a crying ball of mush after receiving a rejection letter, but you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going! Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was a best-selling author. It takes a tough skin, determination and learning what works for you. Remember if every submission or every query came back with a positive outcome it would make the taste of victory bland. You want those moments to be spectacular. Use all these moments to a blocks to build your own writing life. Learn what works for you and what doesn’t. We are all individuals and learning how to be a writer is just as awesome as being one!
What lessons have you learned from being a writer?
Jeanette Perosa is a graduate of Arcadia University’s MFA program. Since that time, she has numerous short stories published internationally in literary journals and magazines including Fiction on the Web, Mamalode, Euonia Review and Bella Mused Online, to name a few. Her first novel The Secret Keepers was released in the Fall of 2015 and spent two months on the Kindle Bestsellers List. She is an active member of the Just Write group and has a story in the upcoming Life Unexpected Anthology. She lives in Limerick, PA with her husband, four children, a pack of miniature schnauzers and one cat.