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  • Writer's pictureEmily Taylor

Today's Writing for TarotWriMo -- 1709 Words

Fear and Concern over a decision.

The card for today’s prompt is an apt one. I made the decision to stream and found myself almost paralyzed by anxiety to do the writing. It’s hard when you’re an introvert, putting yourself out there. It’s harder when you do it two-fold. Writing is such a deeply personal thing, and it’s one thing when it’s fiction, but it’s quite another when it’s personal thoughts. That appears to be what today’s writing is going to be.

Since NaNoWriMo is really about getting the words out, the attempt to put fingers to keyboard and just let loose on the stream of consciousness is also rough. You have to avoid the temptation to adjust, to make it perfect, to get that finished product done and JUST WRITE.

When you’re a perfectionist, that fear and concern is very real. You want to make sure the product you present is absolutely wonderful, above reproach. When you’re an anxiety-ridden mess, it makes it slightly more difficult. So, the idea of putting out an absolutely NOT READY product, and STREAMING while you do it, allowing people to see the mistakes you make is terrifying.

I didn’t realize when I pulled the card exactly how apt it was going to be. And, as you can see if you’re watching the stream, the temptation to go back and edit as you write is a REAL one. And then, sometimes, you just get stuck on what to say next without being repetitive.

So, if the goal is to push the words out in NaNo, where do you take the time to edit? Well, in the writing process, editing always comes after the finish of the first draft. You can’t, and shouldn’t, edit until you get to the end of the writing project itself. As a writer, I know that. As a teacher, that’s what I explained to my students. As a human being, I KNOW that I am terrible at it. It’s easy to go back and just fix the little things on the fly. Add a comma here, change a phrase there, and, if you are continuing to push forward, a little bit is probably acceptable. (Particularly if, like me, you hate misspellings and misplaced punctuation.)

When those “corrections” start to distract you from writing, that’s where you begin to have a problem. And that’s where the writing grinds to a halt. And I have been scolded for stalling as I do this. It’s why all writers need a tribe or a support structure. People that will keep you honest and moving.

That brings us back to the card pulled for today’s writing prompt. The two of swords. Writing is all about making yourself open and vulnerable. You reveal who you are with the process of writing itself, and you learn about yourself in the process.

Things I already knew going in? I am an easily distracted, ball of nerves. I want my writing to be perfect, and worse, I want it to be perfect the first time. Ain’t no one got time for re-writes. But, as I tell the boychild, mistakes are where the learning happens. Growth is supposed to be difficult, and writing is about growth as well.

Everyone loves seeing the finished product, but writing is HARD. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from students that it’s harder than they thought it would be, and they aren’t wrong. There’s a reason so many authors are drug addicts and alcoholics. The process is PAINFUL. The process makes you vulnerable in so many different ways, and at the end, there’s no guarantee that you will have anything that speaks to anyone other than yourself.

And, as a writer, I know that you can both love and hate writing. THere are the days when nothing happens, the words don’t come, and you fall into a pit of despair that you will ever have a useful or creative idea again. There are also the glowing, amazing days where you can’t STOP writing, everything flows beautifully, and you are confident that very little effort is going to be needed ever again.

Both of those days are lies, obviously. I have so many different writing projects going that I could eternally hop from one story to the next and still have stories to write when I finish one. With ADHD, though, the difficulty always comes in FINISHING a project. Stories, crocheting, books, I have so many things left unfinished at the moment. If people couldn’t die until they finished everything they were working on, I would live forever. True story.

I’m going to end up one of those ghosts wandering around, wailing about all my unfinished projects.

And now, at the half-way mark, I am starting to struggle with finding the connections, getting the writing out and done. And that, my friends, is the whole point of this NaNo experiment. I am going to rely on you to help keep me accountable, and I promise to do the same for you.

And, I do believe ANYONE can do writing. I mean, look at Stephanie Meyer and EL James. They released unmitigated piles of writing crap, and they made money hand over fist. Why? Because what they wrote resonated with people. I know lots of people enjoyed Twilight and 50 SoG, but I am not one of those people. I could spend HOURS telling you why they are examples of crap writing. But, and here’s where I have to give grudging praise, they are also examples of how you, any of you, can write.

And, with effort and luck, you can achieve what they have achieved with far better writing.

They took that fear, that concern, and turned it into something. Maybe not something good, but definitely something. And that’s what I tell myself when I write. If they can do it, I DEFINITELY can write and make money. For a while, I certainly did as well. Life got complicated and the writing stopped when I took a full time, in the office job. But, life changes and things happen, and I need to “reclaim my time” and reclaim my writing life.

Inertia is a powerful problem though, and even without an in-the-office job, life provides so many distractions. The past few years themselves have been stressful enough to weigh heavily on my mind. This November isn’t going to change that either. In America, we have the elections in a few days, and my concerns about the outcome is very real and very distracting. So, NaNo gives me something to work towards, even as it feels like the world is shifting around me.

The love and effort people put into writing is real. And the simple fact it writing gives us a way to connect the world, bridge cultures and generation. We currently write all the time. If you write in a chat, post on Facebook and Twitter, send a text, all of that is writing. And all of that is an attempt to connect.

What is your goal for writing though? Do you simply write to communicate? To move people? To spread an idea or a hope? Do you have a story to tell? One of the things I feel I’ve been able to recognize since I both read and write a lot, is that everyone has a story and tropes are real and exist for a reason. Art and culture are truly mediums through which we spread those thoughts and ideas. And our goal should always be to bridge that understanding and connect an audience to something that resonates with them.

Think about all the shows and movies you enjoy, all of those start with writing. And all of those start with someone being vulnerable and exposing a thought to more people. And anyone who says movies and tv are just for pure entertainment doesn’t understand writing, theater, or even the market system. There are always other goals, underlying messages, and attempts to get those ideas across.

A good writer can both recognize when to be heavy handed in the messaging, and be able to do it far more subtly. Some days, like Darwin though, I am very poorly and everything is stupid. I can’t always hide my thoughts or messaging. In many ways, I am, as the saying goes, an open book. People know what I think and how I feel, and they know exactly where they stand with me. I am capable, however, of using my writing to connect people who are open to new ideas with those new ideas.

My brain is like an internet browser in so many ways. It is packed full of knowledge of various different things, and I have 50 different tabs open at the same time for most of those things. I find it easy to get distracted with things I feel I SHOULD be doing. I should be doing the laundry, planning our grocery list, picking stuff up, putting stuff away, overseeing chores, but, and this is hopefully where NaNo is going to come in handy, I have to learn to limit myself to taking care of what I can take care of.

I was great at teaching students to take the times and put in the effort, and to focus on ONLY one thing and limit themselves to only what they CAN take care of at the moment. I am absolute shit at following my own advice. As my husband has pointed out, I am far better at taking care of other people than I am at taking care of myself. I don’t necessarily agree, but there is likely an element of truth to it.

So, to get back to today’s writing prompt, what do I find useful in this card? The idea that I need to stretch my mind to get the creative juices flowing. This card was really a great one to pull for Day One of NaNo. I am trying a whole new writing effort, opening myself up at a very vulnerable part of the writing process, and pushing forward past those fears and concerns. Hopefully, we’ll be successful and “win” NaNo this year. It’s not like we’re going anywhere anyhow.

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