Writing, as one of the members of my writing group so eloquently states, is hard.
On the one hand, how hard can it be? Even little kids will spout stories, dropping words like the pieces of cereal from their adorable sticky hands.
I think we writers are our own worst critics, and that can devastate the creative process. Who wants to create a piece of art, or take risks, when negative voices are hovering over your shoulders, screaming at you that you’re not good enough, you’ll never be good enough, your words are all trashy, no one wants to read them anyway, and you’re just wasting everyone’s time.
Here’s the thing. Those voices lie.
Writer In Motion is far more than a fun experiment to me. I’ve fallen in love with its mission, its purpose. To take the leap and produce and display something that I know is not ready, and to document every waffling step I take–sometimes in the wrong directions!–in my quest to make it better… This is not something that comes easily to me. I was raised with the view that you hide your weaknesses and doubts and what you don’t know.
This? This is way better. It’s truer, and I love to see the ripples from the brave souls who participate, putting their art and their process on display. I’ve seen numerous comments from people on the sidelines who have been affected by Writer In Motion, who have gained some confidence, who have realized that they are not alone. To them I say: I see you, and I hope you join us next time.
The Writer In Motion community is filled to the brim with some of the most amazing, supportive writers that I’ve ever had the fortune to meet. In the WIM chat, there were tears, there were agonizing worries, there were considerations of giving up. All the hallmarks of art, you know? And the response! Every single time, an outpouring of love and support and encouragement swept out to lift up these writers, to buoy them until they found their feet again. It was amazing to witness, to be a part of. To see the support, to see the courage as these writers picked themselves back up again, dusted off their inner doubts, and went on to craft absolute brilliance… I’m the lucky one, to get to see this.
This second round was so much harder for me personally. I came at it with confidence I lacked in the first round, comfortable in my process, assured that I’m not a hack. And then… the words wouldn’t flow. I stressed so hard! And I knew the problem, and I knew the solution, but I couldn’t do it.
Silly ol’ me decided I would pack my November full of stuff, because of course I can do it all, right! I wanted to do it all, and by golly I was going to. How hard could it be, right? After all, WIM is just 1k, and Nano is just 50k and last July I wrote 100k, so I had plenty of time to also edit a third story (150k) and listen to and make notes on my audiobook chapters for my narrator…. right?
Yeah sometimes I don’t make great decisions.
I ended up dropping the last two tasks by the wayside when it became clear that juggling all these things weren’t going to happen. My stubbornness kicked in though and I refused to drop Nano (I have my streak to consider, after all) or WIM (I mean, how can I say no to Space Cows)?
So I limped through on sprained creativity, without giving my muse time to rest and recover as I knew would be smart. This led to some backtracking, some decisions that didn’t work, and to me spending most of WIM sighing over why I didn’t love Space Cows 2 as much as I loved Space Cows 1 and whether or not it was all in my head and maybe I’m just crazy. But that’s ok, because these things happen. Deadlines happen. Real life stress happens. Sometimes your muse takes a vacation without giving you notice (honestly, how rude!).
And I did it! With the help of my amazing WIM tribe, I did it. I managed by the end to pay attention to my themes, to the feel of the story, and to the characters I’d created, and I let them flow. That’s the thing. Sometimes we feel like we’re writing in a vacuum, or we isolate ourselves to write. And that doesn’t need to happen. With the help of a community, we can find the gold that our own eyes are too close or too tired or too full of doubts to see, and we can dig that gold out for all to see.
Will I do four things again in November? Smack me if I try.
Do I regret participating in Writer In Motion again? NEVER. I got to know some amazing people, and I learned more about my limits. The only thing I regret is not having more time to pour over the various drafts from all the other people, though I was fortunate enough to swap drafts with several amazing people and read so many phenomenal stories.
So remember: the mistakes you make do not define you, whether they are in life or in writing and especially your first drafts. Keep revising, keep getting better. Keep learning.
After all, it’s Writer IN MOTION, not Static Writer.