This is sort of cheating because I originally posted this six years ago (Ouch.) to a now-unused Livejournal account. Frustratingly, very little has changed in that time. Frustrating because I figure that lack of progress is entirely my fault.
I am posting it again as a reminder to myself, as a lead-in to posting about related topics, and because I know other people can relate and maybe we can talk about it in the comments.
“You need more days of being absolutely convinced of your own brilliance.”
— my friend Annie (to me via Google Talk)
On occasion, I have these little aspirations (some larger than others) of writing for a living. Or at least perhaps writing on the side to supplement a primary source of income.
I spend so much time up in my head, it’s ridiculous. Even when I’m at work, the wheels of my imagination are spinning. I’ve taken to keeping a small notepad in my back pocket (everywhere I go, including work) just to jot down ideas when I have the chance. Right now it mostly has brief little snippets of dialogue that seem to spring into my mind randomly and unbidden.
On the rare occasions when I’ve attempted to sit down and write something generally original (as original as anything can be anymore), I just find myself presented with a gauntlet of doubts and self-imposed obstacles (this should be a familiar arrangement of mine to some of you). I hear that this sort of mental blockage is fairly common among even well-known authors but it remains daunting, regardless.
It occurs to me that perhaps dragging these fears and doubts out into the light might help me start to deal with them better. And so I will list them here.
1. Most (if not all) of the best work I’ve done in the past has been entirely derivative, using someone else’s world where I don’t have to come up with all of the setting details. This has helped me become a pretty good GM (not bragging – ask those who’ve played in my games) but I can’t think of much use for it elsewhere. The internet is proof that there are legions of fanfic writers. I’ve written both Dragonlance fanfic and Vampire: The Masquerade fanfic (before it was even called fanfic) and the lengths of the fic I’ve written for these settings brings me to my next point.
2. I don’t have much trouble coming up with ideas, but I am not terribly good at following through on them. A good majority of my stories are unfinished and/or incredibly brief (less than a page long).
3. I don’t get out much. That is to say, my knowledge of the world around me is generally and sorely limited to this city I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life in. And beyond that, I’ve been rather hermit-like in my social proclivities. I know little about life, about world events or the basic things that make society work. I don’t even know much about the world as it was during the periods I claim to have an interest in (medieval/renaissance eras). Authors I read bring up smells and sights and other physical sensations I’d never think of in a million years. They reference things that I’d never guess at, and it makes the story more real. I don’t know where they get this information and I don’t know where to begin looking.
4. When I sit down and try to think of things to write about, I’m uncertain of the quality of the things I try to create without using a pre-established setting. Yes, I can come up with ideas. But are they good ones? Would anyone want to read what I’ve come up with?
5. Patience. I’m easily distracted by quick-fix entertainment and my addiction to the internet. Same problem I had with attending to my studies with school (and still struggle with), so I know it can be overcome when it’s something I honestly care enough about. But for now it’s still there.
So there you have it. All my fears and doubts about writing laid bare.
And it’s still something I dream of doing someday.
This ties in to a larger theme in my life that I am planning to tackle in my next blog post. Suffice to say for now that figuring out how to deal with this is still clearly an on-going process for which I am lacking clear answers.
I know the usual advice is “just write”. Maybe it really is that simple and I’m mostly finding excuses. What say you, reader?
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