Monday, September 16, 2013
Sometimes You Just Need a Marriage Counselor
"We are like a married couple who has been through the gauntlet and need to return to simpler times to fall back in love. That's us with writing. We must fall back in love. We were in love before for a reason....let's find it again." (an email from Brit Lary)
Brit was one of the first writers I ever "met." She was in an online writing group I joined right after I began writing in earnest, and I knew right away she had a gift far above the average level of talent in that group. We eventually broke off and created our own group with a few other fabulous writers we met online, and have been together as both writers and friends through the last six years.
Those six years have brought a lot of changes in our lives. Our writing has ebbed and flowed, other pressing needs have crowded in, personal tragedy and huge life challenges have carved new paths for both of us, but we have remained steady friends.
And this week, when I was struggling with writing and melancholy and the ever-cliched writer's block, Brit was there to listen. When I wrote to her and said, "I don't know if I can keep doing this... Maybe this has just been a hobby all along," she reminded me that writing is suppose to be a love affair. That I need to stop listening to the voices in my head telling me to do it this way or do it that way, that the market is looking for one thing and publishers are demanding another. Just... fall back in love with writing the way it was when we both started.
I have been considering "stripping" my writing....instead of worrying about what sales, what doesn't, who are less talented and successful ... and just write. Strip the rest away.
Get our groove back. Don't study statistics, or the latest trends, or the Amazon rankings or NY Bestselling list......just write what you love to write. You, and I, will find ourselves happier...looser.....relaxed.....and that is when the best stuff happens.
She isn't the first to tell me that. It probably isn't even the first time she's told me that. But it was what I needed to hear at exactly the time I needed to hear it.
And she is right. I've been "married" to writing for a long time now, and I've lost that loving feeling. I've gotten tangled up in the hows and whys and technicalities of it, and I've forgotten how to just "be" with it.
She offered me a challenge - a 30-day, write-and-read-a-thon for both of us, to find our love with writing again. To write without thinking about how awful or cliched or crappy or hackneyed the writing is. To write without wondering if it will sell or how it will be critiqued. Just to fall back in love with writing.
Both of us writing, reading, keeping each other accountable day after day.
2 pages a day until the end of October (we revised it to a 51-day challenge), 20 minutes of reading a day (the kind that's just for fun), and - as an extra incentive to our mental-health - a bit of exercise thrown in for good measure.
I'm excited, actually. It all feels possible again. Write the words. All of them. Make them better later.
I am so incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by so many great people - friends and readers and fellow writers. I have a gigantic support group if I'd reach out and ask, and I am so grateful for that. Yesterday, it was Brit who was the one who saved me, who brought me from the brink of giving up, who has, as she always has, believed in my writing, believed I should not give up. She is like my writing marriage counselor. :)
You know how Wikipedia defines challenge? A thing that is "imbued with a sense of difficulty and victory." I love that!
What are you challenged by these days? And are you seeing how victory is there waiting for you at the end?