I’m reading Betsy Lerner’s FOREST FOR THE TREES right now, and something I read last night really resonated with me. It was about how writers often experience life at a remove because we’re constantly narrating it in our head – telling ourselves stories.
Lately, the narratives in my head have been kind of negative.
Confession: I’m a perfectionist. I don’t like not being good at things. I basically want to be the superbest, everyone’s favorite, etc. It kind of sets me up for disappointment sometimes?
Example: About five years ago, I attended a weekly power yoga class. Then my teacher moved away, and through a combination of other factors, probably including my anti-anxiety medication but also quitting my job and not walking to/from the metro every day, I’ve gained a bit of weight. Last year I really missed yoga, the physical stretching and the mental, so I tried a few classes at a different studio. I was not great at it. I felt embarrassed and out of shape, and frustrated that it was so challenging. I kept thinking in a very self-hate-y way that I used to be able to do X or Y, and end result? I didn’t go back. But I still really missed it.
Today I went to my first Gentle Yoga class. It feels good. There are lots of modifications, and the pace is slow, and sometimes I was tempted to feel embarrassed that I am not the Superbest Yogi Ever. But as I was lying there at the end of class I kept thinking – this is better than doing nothing. I can build on this. I have got to learn to be okay with where I am.
I have not been feeling okay with where I am re: writing, either. Not re: publishing, actually. I feel crazy lucky to have so many awesome readers who have been in touch lately! To have a new fansite! To have the beautiful BORN WICKED paperback out (and on an endcap display at B&N right now)! To be going on tour next month!
But, well, I’m writing book 3. And somehow…I’ve gotten all twisted up in word count. With writing goals. With all those articles about how to have a more efficient writing session! How I could be writing 10k a day! And it’s been totally sabotaging me. Somehow, instead of thinking about what Cate’s feeling in this scene, I’ve been thinking about numbers. How long is it taking me to write this scene? How many writing days do I have left before my deadline? How many words have I written today? How many words do I have to write tomorrow, in this scene, or in this chapter? How can I do this better better better? And then if I write 700 instead of my goal of 1500, WOE. If it takes me two hours to write 1000 words, I feel like a hack – even if they are actually good words! I read on twitter about how friends write 3500 words today or 1500 words in 30 minutes and have three books coming out this year and, oh Lord, I just want to quit. I can’t do it that fast. I am not that efficient. I suck. Why am I even trying? I know I dropped this thread between ch 3 and ch 4 and I am not sure the beginning quite works yet and I haven’t figured out that plot point coming up and ..
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m trying to stop doing that. To respect the process.To be slow and inefficient and imperfect. To have discoveries as I go along instead of showing up perfect (since that’s not possible anyway). I wrote about this a little when I broke up with NaNo, acknowledging that fast drafting doesn’t work for me. But I’ve still been sitting over here, judging myself for it. And it’s taken all the fun out of writing for me lately.
If it’s not fun anymore, what the hell is the point?
I have got to learn to be okay with where I am.
And if this is something you struggle with too – ’cause I think a lot of us do – I’m right there with you.