Posted in Thoughts on Writing

The Writing Pep-Talk Rant -a-Rama!

This is a pep-talk sort of rant that is as much for me as it is for anyone. Be forewarned: I speak of some unsavory aspects of writing that most of us dare not consider out loud!

Recently a very sweet friend of mine started a group on Facebook for writers. It was filled with support and goodwill, certainly a well-intended endeavor. She is a positive person who is always looking for ways to help others.

Sometimes I think it would be lovely to be that kind of person, but I’m not. When someone first told that I have an edge, I took it as a compliment. But I digress. . . after being in the group for a couple of weeks, I realized that writing memes and caffeine posters will never nurture my writing life, and I left the group. I didn’t want to share my word count or my struggle with scene structure. Why? It was such a supportive, loving environment . . .

The simple answer is, I prefer to be alone with my writing, and groups can (not always) become an excuse for not getting your yaya into the chair and writing. It’s so much easier to talk about the problems of writing in a group than it is to be alone with the problems of writing inside of yourself. But being alone with your writing problems and working through them can push that growing edge that allows you to improve. I believe that serious writers should always be improving.

I Am a Selfish Writer: My writing time is sacred. I hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door because I really don’t want to talk to you — even if you’re my husband. Even if you’re my dog. I don’t want to be a selfish person, but I do want to be a selfish writer.

Routine and Ritual: I’m a ritualistic creature. I do things out of habit and a need for order. Each morning the ritual is the same: Put water on for tea. Feed the dog. Drink the tea . . . And here’s where it can get tricky: I can either get online and visit Facebook, the news or my email, or I can open my laptop and write. If I go for the first plan, I never really recover. I can never re-capture that moment of raw, morning creativity again. It’s gone until the next day, lost to the news and the Internet. I must stay true to the ritual in order to create.

A Writing Prayer: Start here. Here is a little meditation that I found (author unknown). I edited and changed it slightly to make it my own. I recite it before I write. It calms me. It makes me feel good about myself. It’s easier to write for few hours if you feel good about yourself. It’s harder to write if you are thinking, “What the eff do I have to say, anyway? What makes me think I can write?” The second scenario is my default setting, so I have to deliberately do something that soothes the beast of self-doubt before I begin.

May I welcome my creativity with the curiosity of a child.

May I own my voice and trust my experiences.

May I practice mercy in the gap between what I want to create and what comes out.

May I remember nothing can eat me.

May I live with a creative heart.

May I appreciate the gift.

Do The Work: My favorite Robert McKee quote is this: “Do the work. Tell the truth. The results will follow.” Do the work seems to be the hardest part. It’s easy to set intentions. It’s easy to talk about ideas. It’s easy to write a first chapter. What’s hard is a hundred pages into a novel. What’s hard is sitting down and creating a scene and living with the uncertainty of whether or not it’s any good. When I get too hung up on wondering whether or not what I’ve written is good, it’s paralyzing. Do the work. Eventually your work becomes better, but only if you sit down and do it. That’s the other part of the meditation.

Everything Changes: I write articles for one of the local newspapers. I write guest post for two fairly well-known blogs, StoryFix and Sixty and Me. Sometimes I hit it just right and the articles or posts are wonderful and other times they are so-so. But I turn in my work no matter what. And I write novels. My first novel didn’t sell. Now I’m writing a second novel and I am afraid of giving it to my agent for fear that I will have the same experience of rejection. But I get up and write every day anyway. Here’s a truth: Everything changes. Your work today may be brilliant, and tomorrow not so hot. Your failure today may be just the stepping-stone you need for your success tomorrow. Life is not static. Writing is not static. Everything changes.

For the Love of the Life: What remains the constant grace in all of this mess is that I love the writing life. I may be a success one day and I may not. I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t care about the outcome of my efforts. Hey, we’d all like to succeed. On the other hand, if I fail, I will fail spectacularly and no one will ever fault me for a lack of commitment or effort. Those qualities are part of striving for personal excellence. And that, in some sort of weird and wonderful writing way, is what I love the most. That and all those blogs, articles and guest posts that break up the slog of writing in long-form.

And that’s the rant-a-rama for today.  What are you working on?  Please share with me in the comment section.

 

 

Author:

Novelist, essayist, blogger, wife, dog-mommy, dancer, dreamer, grateful.

20 thoughts on “The Writing Pep-Talk Rant -a-Rama!

  1. One of the better pep talks I’ve read. I wish I could establish a routine. What working on– a couple plays, blogging and writing scripts for League of Women Voters to present to school groups.

  2. My routine isn’t as good as it could be, but I have noticed, if I write BEFORE I open up social media, I’m in a much better frame of mind for the rest of the day or evening. So why don’t I do it more often, I wonder?… (So much easier to procrastinate!)

    1. Being a master at procrastination dogs each one of us — daily habit requires vigilance and social media will definitely pull me out of the zone I want to enter. I often wonder why when I know all of that, like you, I find it easier some days to procrastinate! Go figure.

  3. I don’t always read your posts because this is a CRAZY year. But I read this and I am spot on with you sister! Nice work. Excellent writing Steph! Hugs jenni e

    On Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 10:55 AM, Stephanie Raffelock wrote:

    > Stephanie Raffelock posted: ” This is a pep-talk sort of rant that is as > much for me as it is for anyone. Be forewarned: I speak of some unsavory > aspects of writing that most of us dare not consider out loud! Recently a > very sweet friend of mine started a group on Facebook for ” >

  4. Go you! A quote (or maybe a paraphrase if I’m misremembering it) attributed to Florence Foster Jenkins was “People may say that I can’t sing, but they can’t say that I didn’t sing.” Writers write. Yes, having others appreciate what we right is good and desirable, but most of us can’t help writing whether they do or not. One book didn’t sell? Unless the second book is just a rehash of the first one, there isn’t any reason to think it is destined to meet the same fate. Some things appeal to people and some things don’t. Keep on writing, and do it selfishly if that’s what it takes.

  5. I’m 70 years old and have always loved to read. For 62 years I’ve been saying I should really try and write sometime. I’ve just taken the first steps by trying a blog. At least you are actually writing, and trying, and persevering and who knows.

    1. Len, I was delighted to visit your blog and read a couple of daily musings. We writers must stick together while we persevere. You have a nice writing voice. Stick with it — like you say “who knows” where blogging might take you. All good wishes and goodwill from your fellow blogger, Stephanie.

  6. Hi Stephanie,
    I am visiting you today and both stories I have read inspire me in different ways.
    I’ll focus on this story now and explain to you how I wish I could write at all whether I am alone or in the middle of mayhem.
    It has been a dream of mine since I was a young girl to write a book, any kind of book.
    I am an Aussie and my slang gets in the way of my writing all the time. I write mostly as I speak, this is all that comes into my headspace is to put words down, write sentences as I would say them in my Aussie slang. It comes natural, so hard to change.
    Nevertheless your approach of don’t stop trying is key.
    I have searched for Australian female authors that write like me and apart from the occasional need to use our unique way of speaking, no one I can find does.
    Crikey me!! It looks like I’m a shot duck before I even get started, I’m a bit like the Beverly Hillbillies Steph, as Jed would say ” Why I’s danged if I do and danged if I don’t “.
    I have enjoyed catching up on some of your stories today Stephanie, thankyou.
    I have had a grateful day
    Cheers from
    Annie in Australia 🌴🌞🌊❤❤

    1. Thank you for your comment. Keep writing from your most real, authentic place . . .if you are writing fiction, make sure that your characters have reason to speak in Aussie slang. The important thing is to keep writing, keep studying and keep up a writing practice going. And I don’t think that’s “crikey” at all! Hugs.

  7. I identify! Especially the part about not wanting to talk, and needing time to yourself. I’m married to a very social guy, so I wake up early (5 am at the latest), so that I can have those precious two hours of alone time. Call me introvert—but then, most writers are, I think!

  8. Good pep talk! Every time I consider joining a writers group, book club, etc.,I think back to previous experiences, and how little they actually helped. Enjoyable, but so much time ‘wasted’! Writers, by the very nature of their work, need to be alone to write. And furthermore, being an introvert helps!

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