When the Belief Falters

Well, it certainly has been a summer so far, yeah?

It has been for me, I can tell you that. There have been things happening. There have been adjustments to life, the day job, the Universe…Everything.

And none of that has passed on through without leaving some kind of impression, something to mark its passing.

All of which has had an impact on the writing. I haven’t been doing much of it, and what I have been doing has sometimes felt like trying to squeeze water from a stone.

Add to that a couple of days where I didn’t get anything done at all and, one night, I wondered what it was that I was doing.

Why was it so hard? What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I get back on schedule? Why couldn’t I muster the drive to sit down and write?

And, because I am nothing if not a bundle of nerves, wrapped up in anxiety and self-doubt, I wondered if maybe it was time for me to stop.

Now let me tell you: This isn’t the first time I’ve asked myself these questions. I think we all do every now and again. This is the first time, however, I didn’t simply dismiss the thought out of hand, and I gave serious consideration to the answer.

Why now?

Because I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere. Not with the Work in Progress. Not with my career as an author. Not anywhere.

And I know this is a massive sign that I should be keeping my eyes on my own paper, but there it is.

So I sat there, one night, thinking.

Wouldn’t it just be easier to quit?

On one hand, it certainly would. It would free up a heap of time and effort. Not just on the writing front, but on the authoring front as well. I wouldn’t need to spend as much time (if any) on social media. I could stop the monthly newsletter. I probably wouldn’t feel as much of a drive to update the blog as often. All of that would be gone. Swept right off the table.

Most of it anyway. I do think that the blog would stay active, but the format (Not to mention the schedule) might change.

But the real question is this:

Do I want to quit?

Again, I considered the answer very seriously and, as it turned out, I did not want to quit. I tried to picture a world in which I didn’t actively tell stories and something profound happened:

Something deep in my mental and emotional core recoiled at the idea.  I could almost physically feel the aversion to to it, it was that strong. The degree of internal “Nope” was enough to convince me that I wasn’t interested in setting the pen down anytime soon.

Which…still left the question of why writing was so hard at the minute.

By now, you’re probably shooting pointed glances at the *waves hand at everything* world and are not surprised by the fact that writing right now is difficult. I concede the point that there’s some truth to that, but it I didn’t (and still don’t – you’ll see why, later) think it’s the sole cause.

I considered what it was that I was working on.

Had I lost faith in the book?

This too is a significant question. If you’re going to sit with a novel length project (any size project, really), you’ve gotta believe in it. You’ve gotta believe that you can pull it off.

Note: You might not have a solid answer to the question of “How” you’re going to pull it off – that’s a secondary thing – but you’ve got to believe that you’re going to get there eventually.

So I took a look at the project and, after thinking about it, I decided that I still thought/believed that I had a story there – which was something of a relief since I’m close to 50k words in.

That brought me to the scene of the crime, so to speak. The scene I was struggling with.

In the end (And I will recommend this approach to anyone who asks) I sat down with a notepad and pen and I started writing down questions, rapid fire, about the scene. What am I struggling with? What do I want to do with this scene? What is this scene supposed to do? DO I even need it at all?

There were other questions, but I think you get the picture.

Some of these questions came out right away. Some of them were spawned by answers that I came up with after the initial round of questions passed.

I made sure to answer them honestly – which sounds kind of silly, having to make sure the answers were honest but, lets face it: we all delude ourselves a little bit, and a direction in the work taken because you want to avoid something is usually a dead end.

When I was finished – and this took me about an hour, all told. I had a better, more concrete idea of what I wanted to do, and I a full page of notes for how to do it.

Now, you might be wondering how “Struggling with a scene” blew up into “Are you sure you want to keep writing?”

Well, the times are decidedly heavy. There’s less interaction going on with folks in the writing community and most of that interaction is taking places on Facebook and Twitter, which are problems unto themselves. My old writer’s group kinda fell apart and I haven’t found a new home yet. And, of the folks I normally talk to about writing, I don’t feel comfortable about DM-ing them out of the blue, late at night, so they can talk me off the ledge.

Note: If any of those folks are reading this, the above is more about the hangups that I’ve got, than any kind of reflection on you.

Obviously, I’ve got a lot to unpack and examine, but the point of all this is to recognize when thoughts and feelings like this come around. To give them the attention and care they deserve.

A little self-reflection, a pause to wonder what’s going on, to seek honest answers, is a good thing. Something that I probably don’t do enough of, but plan on doing in the future.

Thanks for reading.

Be safe out there. Be Excellent to Each other.

I’ll see you on Thursday.

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Weird Wild West

Trials

Predators in Petticoats

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