Monday, July 30, 2007

Writing well, expectations, and why I write.

The spousal-unit wants me to become the next J. K. Rowling or Stephen King, that is to say, write lots of books and make tons of money.

Honestly, I don't care too much about the making lots of money part and though I do wish to be published, I won't be devastated if it never happens.

What do I want? I want to write well.

You can have the worst story ever in the history of story-telling but if you write it well, it will still be better than a fantastic story written badly.


In one of the on-line writing groups I'm a member of, the topics of the term "artist" being a creative blocker and how expectations can be damaging were addressed. Both topics struck nerves with me.

It's been a long time since I've seriously written. The truth is that I'm just now clawing my way out of a six year writing freeze brought on by various expectations and their results. In fact, I've not even been able to maintain a blog or a hand-written journal over the past six years thanks to a careless off-hand comment of "You're so creative. Why is your blog so boring?" from someone with access to my personal blog. That innocent comment still haunts me every time I start to type or pick up a pen. Even with this, my writing blog, I have difficulties with entries. I still keep trying with both blogs, though, because I've realized in the last year that writing is part of me.

The last six years have been, well, an overall mess. I don't blame the lack of writing, but I can see now that without the writing outlet it was a much harsher strain on me emotionally. The last year has been a slow climb up during which I've reevaluated a great many things in my life. I never had that many expectations in life, but the few I had were fairly big. Even so, expectations have been something I've been trying to rid myself of, both in myself and in others.

Part of the whole dropping expectations thing is getting past what others have expected of me in the past and currently expect of me as a writer, not to mention the train wreck those expectations have caused and continue to cause inside my head. It's hard to write when I'm worried about disappointing someone by writing badly or not telling the story they think I should be telling. More than once I've had well-meaning people tell me I'm telling the story wrong or that the events I've written are all wrong. I'm learning to say the words "I'm writing for me, and no one else. If someone likes what I write, I'm glad to have brought them some pleasure, otherwise they can go write their own story." and truly mean them with all my heart.

And it's working. I'm writing again. Not on a daily basis, but I'm getting there.

As for the label "artist"... I hate being labeled in any way and I'll leave it at that, except to say that I do find myself creatively blocked by the majority of labels. I'm learning not to let that stop me, though.


The question "Why do you write?" always seems to come up from somewhere. I've never been able to answer that question... until now.

I write because I love to write. Writing is the natural progression in the evolution of my life. And truthfully, there's just more room outside my skull than inside. Besides, my mother taught me to share. I shouldn't be the only person in the world entertained by the characters living inside my head. ;)


Anonymous said...

As someone else who has been blocked by expectations, I appreciate your thoughts on this topic. I've never had the goal of being the next King, the next Rice, the next Rowlings...I just wanted to be the next me. I have to admit that my family and friends had very little confidence in my ability to be a success at writing so I have received no pressure, but also no support, from them in my endeavor, and not enough self-confidence to continue on without it. I stopped writing because of the expectations I placed on myself...that I couldn't compete with others meant that I ended by dropping out completely. And though I miss eavesdropping in on the lives of those characters whose stories I tried to relate, I can't seem to find the road back to where they gather. You write very well. I hope you don't let expectations or labels stop you again. There are too many of us who get defeated before we begin...the difference between success and failure is the determination to not let someone else decide your fate for you. Write on. Dianne

J.R. Turner said...

Hi R.J. ;)

I would say that your new "expectation" is to just be as excellent as you can be. We all know when we've done a good job, we all know when we give something our best efforts. I think that's all you should ever expect from yourself, ever ;)

Think about it--if your child were to do their absolute very best--would you beat them up for not being good enough? No, of course not, you would sing their praises, talk about how their best efforts are never wasted, and how much they learned about themselves by giving their all to accomplish the task ahead of them.

Why would you be any different with yourself?

Besides, I know that you're an exceptional writer as I've had the opportunity to read your stuff. You totally rock and there's no reason at all why you can't let go and allow yourself to be creative and continue on with your wonderful work ;)