INSECURE WRITER'S SUPPORT GROUP
OPTIONAL QUESTION: "Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don't write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be."
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?
Short answer: Yes.
In tenth grade, I wanted to "Be An Author!" (say this in dramatic tones with sweeping arm gestures).
My tenth grade English teacher wanted us to write poetry. I didn't want to write poetry. I told her I wanted to write fiction, and only fiction. She encouraged me to try poetry. She thought I might like it. I did. It shocked me. I hid my poems from everyone except the teacher, who encouraged me, because I was embarrassed that I liked poetry. Poetry?! Me?!
I kept writing it secretly. In college, I noticed poetry in the newspaper. The poetry there didn't look much better than mine. In fact, I thought maybe, just maybe, mine was good enough, so I sent some into the college newspaper and waited for a response. They promised a phone call. I didn't get one.
No, they didn't call me like they promised. They just published everything I sent them, so I found out after my first poem was in print when a roommate said to me, "How could you write something like that? I don't know if I can talk to you again."
My first poem was published and it made Tsunami-level waves in my social life. Some people hated it with a passion and refused to speak to me. I literally lost 20+ college friends/acquaintances. Some people loved it and wanted me to sign their newspapers. Some people sought me out quietly to talk to me about it. I gained a few new friends. :)
BTW - I have only one copy of that first published poem, and I haven't shared it with anyone in years. One of the people who really "got it" was my dad so he is the reason I have a copy. He actually took it to work with him and showed it around to everyone (and lost a few of his friends and gained different ones - it's really a kick-in-the-gut poem).
I still wanted to be a - now say this like a blockbuster movie title - "FICTION NOVELIST" But, poetry had worked its way under my skin. I had time for poetry. I could spend fifteen minutes on a poem and feel like I had made progress. When I spent fifteen minutes at fiction, I felt like I could barely get in a rough page that needed hours of work.
I don't like to call myself a poet. I feel like people expect "Great Things" and "Romantic Things" and "Perfect Word Choices" instead of words like "things" from poets. I don't rhyme particularly well. I struggle with iambic pentameter and spondee. I have to revitalize my vocabulary with glimpses at the Thesaurus. But, I still write poetry. The first time I was ever paid as a writer was for a short story, but the next five payments came from poems. Poems don't earn a lot of money, but getting paid for them feels a little extra special since most places don't pay for them at all.
And, I have a tendency to write poetry that isn't kind, sweet, beautiful, or "lovey." I have a tendency to write poetry about the stuff that hurts the most, which brings me to the next topic - an entry for the Keep Writing with Fey Blog Hop.
WRITE WITH FEY BLOG HOP
For the blog hop: Share your story about writer's block, depression, and/or burnout and how you overcame it or what you are currently doing to heal.
I think you can imagine from the above bit that I have definitely struggled with my writing. I love writing. I struggle with writing. I have felt like I have failed at writing at least a hundred times, if not a hundred thousand times. I have been burned out. I have been depressed. I have been so terrified of writing badly that I couldn't seem to get anything on a page. And yet, I really love to write. I do.
So, how do I overcome the bad days (weeks, months, years)? I give myself permission to not write for whatever project I "should" be working on for the day/week/month/year. This may throw me off course, but then, if I'm really in a bad way due to health issues or any other reason, I'm already drifting at sea with no wind in my sails.
I keep writing by seeking out the joy of words - by listening to poetry I like and writing it down - not plagiarizing, but quoting it in my journal. I write down scripture verses and quotes I like. I've written down lists of words I like to taste when I speak (I used to hate speaking, so these lists used to be small). Have you ever felt the way a word sounds in your mouth like a taste of something delicious? Okay, maybe that's just really odd, but I love words that much. I like to sing, so I write down song lyrics that I know and ones I make up. I write to prompts. I write Nail Polish Stories - which I find unique in the idea of writing a nail polish color as the title of a story that's only 25 words in length. I write snatches of dialogue and phrases I like. I take notes on sermons and books. I write down lists for the day.
When I'm not writing, I walk, I sing, I dance, I ride my bike, I read, I drink tea, I sit with my dog and cat on our back deck in the sunshine or the rain or even snow and breathe in fresh air. I pray. I hope. I ask friends to go walking with me. I ask people to tell me their stories.
I even had a project stem from asking people for their stories - Walking with Jesus: Stories from One Hope Church.
And, I let myself write angry/sad poetry or prose poetry, if that's what I really need to do. Recent Examples: Tacks Between Us and Sticks and Stones.
I have found through the process I go through, which means this may just be me, that when I can't write, I am often blocking myself. I'm holding something back. That something may not fit within my current WIP, so I need to go release it somewhere - in my journal, a poem, a string of words. Once I get it off my chest and rediscover my love of words and story, I can write again.
If you are depressed, please seek help. It makes a difference to talk to a professional counselor and/or a Pastor who can help you. I really, really means this. I have had friends and family members who have attempted or committed suicide. I have experienced depression due to medical and emotional struggles, but I sought help when I needed it. I think help is incredibly important. There are counselors who can help without high costs associated with them. Seek them out. Ask a Pastor for a referral. If you are really down, get the help you need now, please.
If you are struggling with writing blues or burnout, I recommend Chrys Fey's book. It has some great tips in it!
When Chrys Fey shared her story about depression and burnout, it struck a chord with other writers. That put into perspective for her how desperate writers are to hear they aren’t alone. Many creative types experience these challenges, battling to recover. Let Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer's Block, Depression, and Burnout guide you through:
∙ Writer's block
∙ Writer's burnout
∙ What a writer doesn’t need to succeed
∙ Finding creativity boosts
With these sparks, you can begin your journey of rediscovering your creativity and get back to what you love - writing.
What about you? Have you written a genre or form you didn't expect? Have you struggled with burnout?