Sunday, November 14, 2021

The insecurities of writing



I’ve always wanted to write a book. When I was in my mid-twenties I thought one needs to have gained enough life experiences to be confident enough to write, after all, it’s the years of experience, feelings, heartbreaks, and sorrows that need to be explicitly laid down for a good piece of writing. With this concoction in mind, I was convinced that one can become a successful writer only in the latter part of their life.


Then I came across writers like Carson McCullers who wrote The Heart is a Lonely Hunter at the age of 22 in 1940 which is considered McCullers finest work. Then there is Mary Shelly who published one of the finest works in literature Frankenstein at age 22.  What has age to do with this? Well, I later realized that it’s one’s genius and the confidence to begin writing. Facing a blank page is a monstrous endeavor. It requires the confidence of a mammoth to sit down and face that blank page and begin writing.  


I nurtured the idea of becoming a writer at a very young age. All my life, I have always written, writing a journal at a very young age and then later writing/maintaining this blog for the past decade, writing has come naturally to me, I thought. Well, I like to put on record that I was wrong.


Writing is not easy! It needs a lot of consistency and discipline to write something substantive, like a book.  While working on my thesis for graduate school, academic writing was intensive and I assumed creative writing to be fun and not as grueling as academic writing. I also assumed that one can write freely in creative writing as compared to academic writing where one had to abide by certain rules and regulations. As simple as it sounds, both have their own perks and shortcomings.


Academic writing is gruesome and one needs a lot of research before tackling that particular area of subject interest. A lot of critical analysis is required and it should be well structured. Similarly, creative writing is structured but one has room to play around unlike academic writing. In high school, we were taught Walt Whitman, J. Alfred Prufrock, Plath, Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Shakespeare amongst others. I absolutely loved these works and I still do. These works were high level for a girl of my age to comprehend that time and in my mind, the level of poetry had to be something symbolic with a rhyme and a rhythm there like Wordsworth and Plath. That’s probably why I never took it upon myself to aim at writing poetry because I always felt utterly disqualified to write poetry forget about a haiku.


Like reading, writing is a lonely hobby. To write means one has to be lost in the ocean of imagination, has to live more of a hermit life often craving for a secluded writing space. I’ve often thought that writers are someone who loves to be away from the chaos and who enjoys solitude and their own company more. That’s what fuels their creativity. It’s also very painful sometimes to dig into the past memories, trying to remember everything and reliving it if the memories are painful especially if one is writing creative nonfiction. After all, memory can take you only so far. 


Most often, I’ve been advised to make time to write every day, no matter what. To make a ritual of writing. With a full-time 9-5 job, it’s hard to commit to writing. But I’ve learned that if I want to write, I must actively choose how I spend my time besides giving up a few unnecessary hobbies. Moreover, I’m always confronted with this awareness of not having adequate writer’s skills and that my work is premature and sucks, that people will find it boring to read something I’ve written. And that my work might remain “Still Just Writing.” I’m also aware that all these thoughts are very normal and no matter what I need to push myself to keep working on my draft. It’s a lot of patience, quietness, and hard work.  


Louise DeSalvo in her book “The Art of Slow Writing” suggests writers find their own rhythm. Beginning with only five minutes and moving on from there is the key. Learning how to sit at our desks without interruption is a necessary skill we can learn. That’s where my challenge lies. I get distracted too often and too easily. She suggests acquiring the practice of consistent writing, which is so essential to realize our dream of writing full-length work. Writing an hour every day aiming for two pages a day gives you ten pages of writing by the end of the week. And the most important is to keep faith in your writing during the most difficult times and trust that “somehow you’re going to work it out as you go.”


Talking to your writer friends, like-minded friends helps to boost your motivation and confidence. Another writer friend suggested that I should tell everyone I meet that I’m writing and not keep it a secret. That way I’m compelled to write and finish it. I think I might have taken his advice quite seriously since I find myself telling everyone I meet now that I’m writing a book. That way I can make myself accountable and keep my word. I quite like it!


The act of imagining the work, thinking about it, taking notes, and finally beginning the actual act of writing which is the different stages of the first writing process is daunting. I’m yet to embark on the second and the rest of the stages which will necessitate a different blog post for another time.


So, what is/are your writing process like? I’d like to hear your tips for me to improve.

4 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Write 5 pages ---- then park it on your desktop overnight. Next morning start the most laborious part - EDITING. If you are a skilled writer, you should be able to edit the work down to one page and yet be able to say as much as you had said in your original 5 pages.

    If it takes you 10 days to compact your writing to one page - work at it.

    Remember, it takes long to write short.

    A successful writer is she/he who is able to open up the heavens for the readers - in 1 or 2 pages.

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  3. Can't wait to read your complete work! Let me know when it's published!!! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Every time an old blogger friend writes something on their blog I get excited. Just keep blogging without a care in the world...one day you would have written enough.
    For more specific advice: https://www.passudiary.com/2021/01/writing-without-publishing.html

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