Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rewire


By Andrew E. Kaufman

I’ve been thinking about doing some rewiring lately. Not in my house, but in my brain: my writer’s brain. It seems to have gone a bit wonky.

Because I’ve realized that being a good writer isn’t just about grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Plot arcs are crucial, but they don’t mean a damned thing if your own story is out-of-whack. Writing is about being in the right place emotionally, not just on paper, but in your head.

So in doing my rewiring, I’ve identified some short-circuit issues—places where I seem to be getting in my own way, where a fuse or two got tripped. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Comparing Myself to Other Authors 


I don’t do this as often as I once did (not really), but occasionally, I find myself slipping down that slope. It’s a bad one. Here's me reading a book. It goes something like this:


Me: (First chapter)“Damn, what an awesome passage.”

Me: (Fifth chapter) “Damn, the dude can write.”

Me: (Tenth chapter) “Oh, Damn….”

Me: (Midbook) “Oh Sh#*… I’ll never be this good,”
Me: (End of book) “Ohgoodlord. I seriously suck.”

Coveting thy author: bad move. It’s a prescription for failure. It’s a trap, a self-imposed esteem ambush. Even worse, it’s the fastest way to kill inspiration and creativity. I can’t compare myself to other writers because quite simply, I am not That Writer. 


Worrying About Numbers


I’ve decided to decide that numbers don’t matter—not in the overall scheme of things; or at least in the little one, that worrying about them doesn’t do a damned bit of good. Worry all you want, but whether you do or not, numbers are still going to happen. They’re a unit of measure, not a way of life. Sales rankings, book units, word count, my age, my checking account balance: all unhealthy obsessions. Life matters. Numbers don’t.

Forgetting Why I Write 

I still do this.

Sometimes (he said, grudgingly) .

I get so caught up in deadlines, book deals, sales, and everything else that writing isn’t about, that I forget why I do it in the first place. And then I remember the times when none of those things existed, when it was just  me and the written word, and the more I do, the more I realize, those were the best days of my life. It’s so easy to get caught up in the business of writing instead of the passion that drives it.

Not Trusting My Process

The moment I’m about to give up--when I’m chewing the ends off pencils, throwing things, and doing the primal scream--is always the exact moment before I make my biggest breakthrough, when the most amazing things happen. I’ve come to accept that this is part of my process. It’s how I roll. I can’t change it, so I’m going to learn to live with it and accept that I have to go There before I can get Here (even if it sort of sucks sometimes).
    
All Work and No Play:

That’s me.

I’m the first to admit it.  All do is write. I don’t mind that all I do is write, because I love being a writer—but still, it feels like all I ever do is write. And it feels unbalanced. And unhealthy. And it feels like I have no life outside of writing.  So my goal this year is to make time away from writing (After my deadline, of course--just in case Thomas & Mercer is reading this). To take Caleb to the beach more often and to simply enjoy. To live more.  Writing is my passion, but my passion can’t thrive in a vacuum; I have to feed it with living.

Fear of Failure

'Nuff said.

How about you? Got any bad wires that need fixing? Here’s the place to come clean.

Promise, I won’t tell ;)

11 comments:

  1. You said it all. Especially about the numbers. I get obsessed with daily word counts and maintaining the visibility that certain number rankings represent. I've been trying to be more balanced, such as spending more time with my granddaughter, but in my head, I still worry. I need to rewire too. Thanks for a terrific post.

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  2. I found an inspiring and related post about creativity. http://blogs.psychcentral.com/creative-mind/2012/09/trusting-your-creative-self/

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  3. That's a great post, L.J., and so true. By nature, writers are highly sensitive creatures--that's to our advantage, but as with most things, there's a downside. Since we run on emotion and are so intuitive, it can work against us--I know it does with me. Emotions distort reality. I guess I should add to my rewiring plan. Something about learning to trust logic more than emotion when called for. Thanks for sharing the link.

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  4. Great post, Drew! I'm going to send all my author clients here, as I know each one of them gets discouraged sometimes and compares themselves to others too much. Just focus on you and your story, and make it the best it can be, and all the rest will come!

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  5. Great post, and a good things to remember! Thanks, Andrew!

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  6. Numbers, definitely numbers. And now that Amazon has author ranks and sales ranks it is so easy to get caught up in that - and what you really need to do is write the damn book. I have a friend who is an endurance athlete & she has the same problems obsessing about pace time instead of just doing.

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  7. I'm trying something new. I have a mental box now that holds all of the stuff that screams neurosis. When something comes up (and it always comes up) that makes me feel inadequate, it goes into the box. Every once in a while my Lizard brain tells me to open the box and believe everything it holds, but if I figure it out fast enough, that thought gets tossed in as well. You would think the box would be bulging, but I'm finally figuring out that once I get it out of my head it ceases to exist, and so it doesn't take up any room in the box.

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