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IWSG: Fear, Love, and Writing

February 4, 2015

Image courtesy of Kitch Bain @ StockfreshIt’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group, again. I know, don’t remind me– I was insecure two months ago, and haven’t been here since! But it’s the first Wednesday of the month and, thanks in part to the fabulous Alex J. Cavanaugh and the IWSG, I’m back. Want to join the best blog hop on the worldwide web, and share your doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak? Click on this linky, and join us!InsecureWritersSupportGroup

In the meantime, as my blog reverts to barren wasteland, I’ve been sorting through the dirty laundry of the past year’s unfinished projects, deciding what to pursue and what to leave behind. As I sorted the whites of new drafts from the delicates of abandoned muse rants, and tossed the dark ruminations in a pile of their own so as not to turn my bright thoughts dingy, I came upon a bit of a revelation about my goals.

Because, as I evaluated how I allocate the hours of my day, how I stack up my time this way and that, trying to hack my life to fit more writing in without disturbing all the rest that I hold dear, I felt myself become more and more desperate to get something done, and to have something to show for my efforts. And the greater my craving for tangible rewards, the more I felt the joy slip through my fingers, and the passion flicker and dim. Still, I held fast to chasing someone else’s dream. Joy is well and good, I thought, but real writers get published. Real writers finish stuff and move on.Image courtesy of Mark Carrel @ Stockfresh

Then suddenly it struck me: Am I letting fear drive my writing, instead of love?

Is it fear that makes me wonder if I shouldn’t stop this nonsense and do something useful like clean out the pantry or organize my photo albums? Is it fear that demands validation, recognition, or at least compensation?

Fear tells me that I need to write something that will fit into neat little boxes. Fear compares me with other writers who might be doing better than I am, and tells me I’m not worthy. Fear keeps me up late at night as I debate what is best for me to write.

Of coImage courtesy of Mark Carrel @ Stockfreshurse, thousands of years of evolution can’t be wrong. Fear isn’t always a bad thing. Fear also keeps me at a day job to pay bills, and tracks my word count to ensure measurable  progress. Fear makes sure I back up my computer and copyright my blog.

But it is fear that sends me into that sinkhole of self-doubt, where I contemplate obscurity, where I question why I even try.

Would love ever wonder whether I should stop writing and do something sensible? I think not!Image courtesy of Mark Carrel @ Stockfresh

Love is when I forget to watch the clock, and work until I’m exhausted but happy and satisfied with my accomplishments. Love is when passion grabs me by the hands and drags me into my story, and when it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. Love knows I’m doing what I’m meant for, and that there is no other path but this one.

After all it was love that started me down this path. When I first began to write stories, before I even knew where the word counter was, I wrote for the love of it. I need to have faith that love will finish what it started.

How about you? Have you ever found yourself writing from fear instead of love? What has sorting through 2014’s dirty laundry taught you?Image courtesy of Brenda Carson @ Stockfresh

 

Laundry basket image courtesy of Kitch Bain, coffee stains courtesy of Mark Carrel, hearts image courtesy of Brenda Carson all @ Stockfresh

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39 Comments
  1. February 4, 2015 6:26 am

    Please don’t stop writing – I love your way with words!
    Fear keeps us on our toes and gives us a healthy respect for content but love gives us that warm glow of achievement – perhaps we need both for a healthy balanced diet of alphabet soup?

    • February 4, 2015 4:27 pm

      Thank you so much, Angela! Reading your comment as I drank my coffee this morning brightened my whole day. 🙂
      (And it does need brightening as we face the tail end of the Alberta Clipper snowstorm …)
      I hadn’t looked at this in terms of balance, but you’re right–something as vulnerable as love might need fear to keep it safe.

  2. February 4, 2015 6:40 am

    Yeah been there. There a bit now, but fighting it. When the fear makes me think like that, quit and I back off, I then go into mourning and that is much worse. So, I face the fear and try to work though it, until I am writing again—Ho hum, working my way there, but struggling. My post this month included Star Wars and while I was writing it I was loving it. It excited me. That is what I want to feel every time I write something. Now to figure out how to infuse into all of my writing again.

    • February 4, 2015 4:31 pm

      I loved your Star Wars post, and it’s very timely as the countdown to the new movies begins!

      Fear is such a terrible place to be; it can be paralyzing. That’s why it’s so great we have other writers to pull us out of that dark place. Keep going, Juneta. You have a lot of amazing ideas that need writing, and the thing is, you are the only one who can write them. 🙂

  3. February 4, 2015 6:43 am

    Agreed! It would be a real loss if you stopped writing. You write wonderfully.

    If you want to write simply for the love of it, then okay, but I wish you’d publish. You’re an excellent writer!

    IWSG #143 until Alex culls the list again.

    • February 4, 2015 4:35 pm

      🙂 No writing stoppage for me, no sirree! But the blog had to take a backseat for a while. I’m hoping to be more consistent here soon.
      I don’t doubt I’ll publish someday, but of course there’s ‘fear’ again. I would ‘love’ to share some of what I’ve made with people like you though, so I’ll get there somehow. 🙂

      Thank you for your kind words. It makes me so happy to know people like what I write.

  4. February 4, 2015 8:41 am

    I love this, “I need to have faith that love will finish what it started.” and I think it will. You really are a great writer. That feeling you get when you fall into a story is worth every second of agony. I can totally relate to where you are at, because I’m there, too. Fear is a killer. Write for love and see what happens.

    • February 4, 2015 4:40 pm

      Storytelling, and writing too, is such a leap of faith for me. I’m always afraid that if I think about it too hard that I’ll hit some kind of wall of no more words. I’m glad my post was able to articulate that. 🙂
      I’ve learned to trust my heart in life, and I think I might have to do that with writing as well.
      Thank you for the encouragement, Shell. 🙂

  5. February 4, 2015 9:13 am

    Awesome thoughts. At one point, I hated the project I was working on. Hated it. Truly. Every time I pulled it up, I remembered how much I hated it, and I just wanted to hurl the draft out the proverbial window. Finally, I decided I needed a change of perspective. I blogged about the parts of the story I LOVED. You know what? That was the turning point. Ever after I returned to the draft with excitement, ready to reveal this vision I’d shared with the world. It really comes down to our perspective, eh?

    • February 4, 2015 4:43 pm

      Exactly this, Crystal. I never want to write something that I wouldn’t enjoy reading. Why would I perpetrate another book I don’t even like upon the world?
      Realizing that I can choose what I work on based on what I love is kind of a turning point for me.

      • February 11, 2015 12:45 pm

        So true. I think that’s been the biggest blessing of the self publishing revolution, books the authors love.

  6. February 4, 2015 9:20 am

    I think all writers get to the place of fear once in a while. I try to remember why I started. I think you’re lucky to have a passion as not everyone finds theirs. Sometimes I feel guilty about spending time writing when I should be doing other things. I know this isn’t fear, but it does intrude on my writing hours. Mostly I write for the love of writing.

    • February 4, 2015 4:46 pm

      Oh, yes, there’s guilt over here too. It can be so hard to quantify progress in writing, and other pursuits (like TV? And cruising the Internet?) can be so instantly gratifying. Defining creating stories in terms of love makes it so much easier to understand why I do this.

  7. February 4, 2015 9:43 am

    Writing never fits into neat little boxes.
    I think I wrote with a little bit of fear after my first book. Only because I never wanted to write more than one book.

    • February 4, 2015 4:48 pm

      That is why you are the fearless Ninja, Alex! And look at you now, on book number four. 🙂

  8. February 4, 2015 9:55 am

    Kirsten 💖 you must have ‘heard’ me thinking about you every day this past week, missing you; wanting to reach out; knowing we’d hear from you in YOUR timeframe… And here you are, writing with deep rhythm as always.

    Fear, criticism, doubt … If we always are able write from a place of love, ease, effortlessly, I think we would lose what makes writing so satisfying. It’s the paralyzing fear, the periods of writer’s block and hibernation, the hair shirt we insist on wearing occasionally that give us the gift of feeling so alive when the writing flows.

    A metaphor, certainly, for every day life – if they’re all easy, what’s the point? We can’t always understand or embrace ‘the wrestle’ when we’re locked in a stranglehold, but without it, life isn’t lived in the full spectrum of colors.

    • February 4, 2015 4:56 pm

      There were a couple times last month where I thought, I had better sit down and post something right now or Sammy D and all my blog buddies will wonder where I am, but I still couldn’t seem to get my act together! It’s nice to be missed though, and give something back in return for all the wonderful words you share over at bemuzin.
      I like that you brought up the difficult days, the doubt, and the struggle, because love is that way too sometimes isn’t it? Sometimes we have to fight for what we love, and sometimes we aren’t even sure we love at all anymore. And yet, love comes back. 🙂

      • February 5, 2015 1:17 am

        Absolutely, anything worth having is worth fighting for (love and passionate pursuits) and worth tangling with the demons. It’s a life well lived – and lives balance over the long haul – if we just remember it’s the variety of peaks and valleys that give contentment, and even happiness, if we just persevere through the darkness.

        Great to hear from you, Kirsten, but And I am an understanding soul. I always trust you and I will connect when timing is right for both of us. ☀️⚡️

  9. February 4, 2015 11:54 am

    I’ve been struggling with similar thoughts as well, since I’ve been finding that school sucks up a lot of my mental bandwidth and makes it harder to summon the energy for writing, especially if I try to write with some sort of end-goal in mind. I’m wondering if a better strategy would be to write because one enjoys writing and telling stories, then what happens with the stories after that–whether it’s publication or simply sharing them with friends–maybe that’s something that can be figured out later?

    • February 4, 2015 5:05 pm

      Hey Mike!
      It must be hard to fit a writing schedule in with schoolwork, not only because of time constraints but because all that learning takes up mental energy. I read somewhere that there is only a finite amount of creative energy one can summon per day, and after that it’s no use to try for more. I totally believe that.
      However, I think writing just for fun can actually be relaxing. I do this myself when things get crazy. I open a blank document (morning pages style) and write about whatever I feel for 750 words or so. It can be about my life, about my stories, about writing, whatever. Writing just for word count helps me feel like I’m still a writer even on the off days, and I’m pretty sure it helps me become a stronger writer. It’s practice, like scales to a musician. 🙂
      And, for me some of that stuff, after a bit of editing, ends up right here on the blog. In fact, this post started out like that. 🙂

  10. February 4, 2015 12:53 pm

    It’s hard not to compare your journey to other writers, but it’s probably not helpful. I feel wierd staying at home taking care of kids when I could be out earning money as well. But then again, my kids have health issues and it’s a lot easier to put down volunteer and writing duties when they get sick than taking time off from a “real” job. Plus, writing is magical. I would hate to give it up.

    • February 4, 2015 5:08 pm

      Hi Tamara!
      Welcome to A Scenic Route! One of the really cool things about writing is that it fits so neatly in between whatever else life dishes up.
      And, it’s magical. 😉

  11. February 4, 2015 5:35 pm

    So GLAD to read you again, Kirsten. As always, you’ve come to the heart of the matter. And, yes, love of writing is what started us all on this path.

    In Dec 2014, I sealed up my latest rough draft, complete with a letter to myself should I revisit the story, and stepped back.Like a lot of people, I’d come to wonder why I was writing at all. It wasn’t fun anymore, frought with doubt and frustration. But, after some distance, I’m begining to push the fear back.

    I’m going to write the multi-generational sf novel I wanted to write in the first place. I have all its parts and pieces strewn across the galaxy of the last six years: short stories, a finished novel, and a first draft second novel. I have everything I need at my fingertips.

    Sorting through 2014 has taught me that fear has its place, but joy in writing has power…the power to allow us creativety:) Whether we publish or share with friends, as Mike said, our writing is our expression of life at its most mysterious and beautiful:)

    • February 5, 2015 8:04 pm

      Yes, it’s funny because I’ve seriously considered taking some kind of break as well, but I ended just cutting way back on my progress. It was nice to see that I still wanted to work on my story once I backed off, and that it was the pressure that was turning me away, not the writing.
      Your love for words shines through in all your writing, and I know once you rekindle your passion that your stories will pour from your fingers once again.
      I look forward to seeing what you’re up to!

  12. February 4, 2015 8:11 pm

    Hey, you . . . missed you around the blogosphere! You are an AMAZING writer, but you gotta do what’s right for you. Just remember, fear is the path that leads to the dark side. If you’re a fan of the dark side, then no problem 😉 Love how you incorporated the Valentine’s theme 🙂

    • February 5, 2015 8:06 pm

      I’m so glad you picked up on the Valentine theme! I wasn’t sure if anyone would, because I wanted it to be subtle, but not too subtle.
      And thank you for the kind words. 🙂

  13. dksalerni permalink
    February 6, 2015 8:08 am

    I know this fear. I pretty much succumbed to it this past summer, right after I walked away from my classroom for the last time. I needed to leave teaching; I couldn’t continue is a profession where my work was not valued (by my administrators). The writing had been supplying additional income to my family for a couple years, but now, besides my small pension (I retired too soon to get a good one), it was going to be my only income.

    Fear froze me and smothered my work. I spun my wheels for months, finishing nothing, hating everything I put on the page.

    I didn’t really adapt to my new routine until fall, when I started to fall back in love with one of the manuscripts and began to take joy in writing again.

    I know you will find your joy again, and that makes all the difference!

    • February 7, 2015 2:36 pm

      Thank you Dianne! It is good to hear from someone like you who has worked through this and come out the other side. 🙂
      I can’t imagine the pressure there must be to write when it is one’s only source of income, but overcoming that kind of fear is so worth it. How empowering it must be to write for a living, and have your work be valued by so many happy readers!

  14. February 12, 2015 12:41 pm

    Hey, I have an award for you at my blog!
    http://www.junetakey.com/posts/liebster/

    • February 13, 2015 8:05 pm

      Wow, thank you Juneta! I hope I don’t have to give a speech though. 😉

  15. February 13, 2015 9:10 am

    “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
    ― FDR

    “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
    ― William Wordsworth

    • February 13, 2015 8:06 pm

      I love that William Wordsworth quote, Peter.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  16. February 22, 2015 1:11 am

    Aloha Kirsten 🙂

    Thanks so much for stopping by! I know we haven’t connected in a long while (all my fault!) and I sincerely appreciate blogger buddies like you who encourage me to keep going 😉

    You and I have written similar-themed posts lately, huh 🙂

    I love you line about love and getting caught up in the (writing!) moment… it is so true… as it is when I also find myself doing “important” stuff before my writing time begins (I mean, the dishes in the machine *really* need to come out NOW! 😉

    Best regards and wishing you all the very best for your writing projects 🙂

    • February 22, 2015 10:30 pm

      Hi Mark,
      It sure is nice to see you around these parts! 🙂
      It’s been a challenge to juggle everything on my to do list, and keeping up with the writing will probably always involve sacrifices. Let’s hope they’re just things like dishes and laundry!

      I hope we stay connected, even if it’s just once in a long while!

  17. February 24, 2015 1:13 pm

    This resonates on so many levels! Fear seems to drive a lot of what I do (or don’t do). Definitely a huge block to overcome.

    • February 24, 2015 10:04 pm

      Hi Callie!
      Welcome to A Scenic Route. 🙂
      I think that realizing some choices I made were based on such a negative emotion really helped me begin to take charge of the direction of my writing.
      I’m glad I was able to get that across!

      • March 7, 2015 6:44 am

        It’s definitely a very frustrating position to be in when you recognise where those fears are routed, but struggle to find a way out of it.

        For example, I recognise that my fear often revolves around feeling inadequate. Of not being smart enough, of not being enough, of not being able to do enough… I get that, I understand that. But my answer seems to be: Then you need to learn about x, y, z… which brings me back to feeling inadequate as I always seem to fall short.

        I’m just curious how others seem to manage that.

      • March 9, 2015 10:07 am

        For me, learning new things has been a huge confidence builder–and that’s not just learning about writing!
        This blog, for example, with each post I make and every image or widget I add, is a way for me to learn something new and share what I’ve learned with other people. 🙂

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