Rekindle the Joy of Writing
"Somewhere along the way the joy of writing these blogs crumbled between my fingers."
You are my guilty conscience, dear blog reader. Which is a shame, because I’ve wanted so much for you to be my guilty pleasure. When I initially started blogging several years ago, I not only wrote on a regular basis, I enjoyed it. It seemed as if a handful of people enjoyed reading my articles, too.
Somewhere along the way the joy of writing these blogs crumbled between my fingers. And I’ve felt a pang of guilt, because I really want to share all the wonderful insights I’ve discovered these past years, especially on writing and storytelling. I also have some stories I’d love to share. Of people I’ve met. On places I’ve been.
The more I’ve thought about it, the less I’ve felt like doing the actual work. And that is the core of it: writing has become my work.
It used to be my passion. My dream.
A "Permission Slip"
"When it comes down to it, everyone writes."
I envisioned myself as a writer. Hoped that one day I could call myself a writer and not feel like I was pulling a fast one. For the longest time, I felt almost like a con-person. As if I was pretending to be a writer, while I knew that I wasn’t REALLY one. I held the title so high. So when I occasionally used it about myself, I felt the need to apologize at the same time for daring to use it.
Once in a while I pondered over what it would take for me to feel comfortable using it. After all, just because a person writes, it doesn’t make them a writer. Not a real one. Or so I told myself. When it comes down to it, everyone writes.
For me, the definition of a writer was someone who was published and had films produced (when I thought of myself as a screenwriter in particular). After publishing a number of articles and reviews in newspapers and magazines, I began feeling comfortable with the title (freelance) journalist. I felt I had earned that much. Finally some of my short film scripts were produced, providing me a “permission slip” to embrace the title of writer. Almost, anyway.
Little by little I stepped into a way of life where my writing (and directing) now pays all of my bills. Now I feel more than comfortable calling myself a writer.
"Bottom line: it’s work."
I now know things that, had I known them earlier, possibly could have brought me to this point sooner. Others are where I used to be, dreaming about a life as a writer. On and off over these last couple of years, I’ve had short bursts of inspiration about ideas of what to share to help others on their way. Elaborate series on a number of topics. These ideas usually come while I’m on the go or traveling. By the time I can sit down and do something about it, I don’t feel like writing them. The moment is gone.
I’ve never experienced the dreaded writer’s block. This being said, I’ve felt an increasingly nothingness when writing lately. And a sort of burden I can’t explain. I am overjoyed at the possibility of self-publishing via Amazon and the like, but get depressed when I see the lack quality in so much of what is self-published. I don’t want my writing to be associated with second class-dime-a-dozen “products”. Luckily there are examples of the opposite out there and I can’t claim that the one story book I’ve self-published is a masterpiece (except for the illustrations by my son Elias…).
I’ve been very lucky and have been commissioned to write a few screenplays. Being a writer for hire on projects that are producer initiated, is a huge step in the direction of a film actually going into production. Very few are fortunate enough to be in this position.
I love my life. I love being a writer. I am not one naturally to complain. All the same, something has gradually gone off course. I couldn’t admit to myself that I was no longer satisfied. It wasn’t until last week that I realized what was off: Writing is my occupation, not “just” a hobby. No longer a dream. My reality. My job.
Bottom line: it’s work.
I’ve been so focused on becoming a working writer that I let go of my passion for writing. My dreams of writing.
I’ve equated writing with a demand of high standards and quality writing. Deadlines. Expectations. I want to deliver, especially when I am hired to do so. I’ve become so busy, so uptight, that I often don’t “have time” to swim, go for walks, go to the movies, attend lectures on topics not work related, hang out with friends. Had this “busy-ness” made me more productive? I thought so. But when I took a peek into the virtual equivalent of my desk drawer, I found a lot of stories in different stages of development, patiently waiting for me to bring them into completion. Since I finally AM a writer, I now have influential people willing to read my material. Very little in my virtual drawer has been seen by others. I haven’t found the time or energy to bring them to a place worth presenting.
It feels as if I am at a crossroad. I get working on my own material OR I can joyously savor reuniting with my stories and enjoy every second of bringing them to life.
The answer is a no-brainer. The challenge is: how do I move from working as a writer to passionately writing?
The Joy of Writing
“The teacher appears when the student is ready,” is a saying I’ve read somewhere. Last week such a teacher appeared, unexpectedly. I was invited to a 5 day workshop on writing. I wasn’t really up to it. Tired. I didn’t feel like I needed yet another course and was still trying to utilize the tools from the class I took this spring. Most of all, I didn’t feel I could steal the time from working (writing….).
Let’s say I got an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I accepted. Packed my bags and off I went. I am SO glad I did.
During the course of the workshop I admitted to myself that writing felt like work. Tedious work. I’m glad I came to this realization while there. Had I come to it during the course of my regular life, I might have thrown in the towel. Transforming writing into work defeated the entire point of doing it in the first place. There are far better paid jobs.
The workshop addressed my dilemma. Turns out, I’m not the only one wrestling with it. (Also a writer friend of mine wrote me not long ago, telling me how tired he was of an amazing project he has been working on for a long time….). With the aid of a number of tools, we learned ways to take the pressure off. All of the tools were surprisingly easy to use. I wrote with more ease than in ages. And I wrote MORE. I’m not sure of the quality, but there were nuggets. A wonderful start. I also had a number of “Aha!” moments on several of the projects I felt stuck on.
Most importantly: I rekindled the JOY of writing! I also feel confident I won’t ever lose sight of it again.
So, dear reader, I don’t think I’ll feel guilty about being absent from this blog in future weeks (hopefully ever again!). I really look forward to it being my “guilty pleasure”. Stay tuned. I’ve got a lot of cool tools to share.
I am indebted to Bo Skjoldborg for my “reawakening”. If you can read any of the Scandinavian languages, be sure to visit his site www.boskjoldborg.dk and read his book on flow writing: Flowskrivning. And if you ever get the chance to attend a workshop with him, you’ll be giving yourself a gift.
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