The Madness of Writerly Insecurities

The Madness of Writerly Insecurities

Despair. Pure despair.

As writers we’ve all got our insecurities. I have mine. My insecurities revolve around my ability to be able to craft a story that doesn’t need to be sliced to ribbons. The writing itself I’m confident in, but I know when Georgia McBride sliced the sequel to When Stars Die, my confidence was shaken–but it was shaken only slightly because when I re-did the first chapter, I had nailed it the first time.

But still…I have insecurities about my story. Are my characters developed enough? Do I have plot holes? If I have plot holes, can I easily fix them with just a few tweaks here and there? Is my plot on track? Those are my general insecurities, and they’ll probably always be insecurities of mine.

However, they’re not so bad they keep me from writing. If anything, my insecurities fuel my desire to get better as a writer and a self-editor. I have enough confidence in myself as a writer though. I know my ideas are invaluable, that someone will love them, that someone will want to give them a chance. This confidence has come from years of writing experience. But I know there are writers whose insecurities run so deep they’re nailed to the floor and just can’t bring themselves to write. They lack confidence in themselves and their stories.

In order to fix insecurities about your writing, you need to search deeper to why you have those insecurities in the first place. Do you fear rejection or failure? Are you afraid of getting hurt? Of hard work?

This post is not coddling, by any means. Rejection is something you’re going to have to get over. It will happen, it will sting, but you need to realize there is an entire world out there devoted to publishing, so many options, and move on to another one. Or you need to learn to accept criticism that your instinct tells you will make your story better.

Look, I’m a sensitive person, but my sensitivity does not affect my ability to take criticism. I love it, but I’m also a perfectionist. Critique is not meant to hurt you or your story. Critique is meant to help you, and nine times out of ten, the person critting you wants you to develop as a writer. So keep that in mind.

There is also no such thing as failure in writing. Writing a novel that ultimately has no potential is not going to hurt you. You’re only going to learn from it and grow because you’re going to begin to develop an understanding of why it has no potential in the first place. Repeat after me: There. Is. No. Failure. Failure only exists because you say it exists, so take that out of your mind right now.

Writing isn’t just about publishing either. It’s about growing and developing as a human being and learning amazing things about you and your world around you. It’s hard work, it’s tough, but our ability to be able to fashion things from our minds is a beautiful gift, and once you’ve been bit by the writing bug, you should never take for granted what can come from that mind–even if it’s overdone, or seems stupid, or undeveloped. You can only learn and grow. Learn and grow.

 

 

 

The Madness of Writer’s Block

The Madness of Writer’s Block

Did someone call me for a case of writer's block?
Did someone call me for a case of writer’s block?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’ve never had writer’s block. I’ve never suffered from this malady because when a story idea clicks in my mind, I don’t run to my Surface and immediately start tapping it out. I let it stew in my brain and let the idea actually take me on an adventure where the plot points are endless. If it stays in my mind for a few days to a week and I can’t let it go, then I know it is a story that I want to write.

Everyone is different and needs to beat writer’s block his/her own way. I’m not going to tell you to step away from the computer and do yoga or deep-breathing exercises, because anyone who thinks he/she has the cure is going to tell you that. I’m only relaying how I have been able to prevent writer’s block: This is what this post is about, preventative measures. Like good healthcare should be doing, I’m going to give you the tools to prevent it.

In any case, if you’re prone to writer’s block, these tips may be able to help you.

After I have let the idea stew, I go right into creating an outline because all the points will be on paper and I have no excuse for not knowing what to write about it. If you relax and let the character take you on a journey, you shouldn’t find yourself too stuck on the outline. But if you are, remember an outline is an outline, and you can always take another day to let the idea stew. I took a week to create the outline.

I do not want to hear that outlines will limit your scope and you’ll find yourself bored. No you won’t. This is the argument a lot of writers use for rough drafts, and I especially love this, “But character development will be shoddy!” An outline is not set in stone. For Stolentime, I just go rid of three chapters out of my outline because they are unnecessary. I also find my MC is adding things to make the chapters more exciting that were not in the outline. If you feel like an outline is going to kill your character development, then you yourself still need to develop as a writer because then you’re using the outline as a crutch, not a tool.

I don’t take crap.

Once you have that outline written, sit your butt down and refer to that outline to remind you of what direction you’d like to take your story. It is merely a reference tool that will help you finish that rough draft without much fuss. If you feel yourself becoming bored because of the outline, remember that your MC is in charge of where the story goes, and that if you let the outline lead you, you aren’t properly utilizing the outline as it is supposed to be used. When I start writing a chapter, I glance at the outline to remind me what I want this chapter to be about–assuming that it makes sense with the previous chapter. If not, I’m allowed to make adjustments. People really need to stop treating the outline like evidence that needn’t be tampered with.

If you’re the type who has to write chapters out of order, use the outline out of order. I simply think the outline is the best tool for preventing writer’s block because your story is all there and you have no excuse for saying you can’t think of what to write. At the rough draft stage, you shouldn’t be worrying about how you’d like your sentences to sound. You should be writing.

The Other Side of Depressed

The Other Side of Depressed

There's just something empowering about this pic for me.

For the past few days I have been having to remind myself that I’m not manic. When you’re bipolar and you start to feel great, you often have worries that you’re becoming manic because you’re not used to being in between. So when you start feeling great (and sometimes it’s not gradual), you have to take a step back and examine symptoms of mania with your normal mood.

Yesterday at work I was so confident, outgoing, and competitive that I had to wonder if mania was fueling the heat in my veins. But my thoughts weren’t fast, my brain wasn’t telling me to “Go! Go! Go!”, I didn’t have thoughts of reckless behavior, I didn’t have psychomotor agitation, I wasn’t over excited, and I wasn’t overindulging myself in my work.

I am a naturally hyperthermic person, I have come to realize. According to psychology, hyperthermia is a step below hypomania, which probably explains why even a small dose of an antidepressant or even an atypical antidepressant makes me either hypomanic or manic. I am a naturally driven person. I am naturally optimistic and sociable. But after everything that has happened, I am much stronger.

Bipolar disorder has taught me a lot. I am not romanticizing this illness, but I might as well make the best of an overwhelming illness. I am a much more thoughtful, sensitive person. Mania can remind me that my life can be great–just not to such an extreme degree. Being able to compare my current thoughts to my depressive thoughts makes me realize I am a much more confident, caring person. Yesterday at work I gave up my coat to a co-worker who was barely dressed for the occasion. Certainly I was cold, but she probably would have started crying with how she was dressed. I also don’t smile and bare things anymore that I don’t need to tolerate. My co-worker was playfully criticizing the way I tried to get people over for the drawing, and I just said, with confidence, not meanness, that I’ve been at it for more than 6 months and my method works with my personality. I don’t want to add a Southern drawl to my words when that is not me. And I was proud. Before I probably would have just done it to appease, but no more.

I work today at 12. I woke up just before 9. No longer am I thinking I don’t want to get up because everything feels pointless. I am waking up, and even though I am still tired when my mind shakes me awake, my thoughts are positive. They are not irritable, grouchy, upset, despairing, or hopeless. I am also appreciating the fact that I am alive when my mind tried too many times to count to kill me. I have a joie de vivre, joy of life. It’s so surprising to me how extreme I can become. I go from hating life to loving life so much I am grateful I have never even attempted suicide.

But there is the fear of becoming depressed again because of how I am right now. Why would I want to go back to feeling suicidal, hopeless, angry, hateful of myself? It’s hard to accept there is a possibility of that happening again. I was terrified it was happening yesterday, until I realized my anxiety was doing it to me–for no reason. I might need meds to help with the anxiety side of things, but I also know getting up and doing things helps it. And caffeine. But I’m no addict, I swear.

It is nice to be able to enjoy this life again.
It is nice to be able to enjoy this life again.
In any case, today promises to be a good day. I will work hard at work to make extra money for a few surprises, I will come home and proofread my novel, I will possibly watch Naruto with the fiancé, and I will come home and blog again, possibly proofread some more, and go to bed for the surprises of tomorrow.

Visual Inspirations from The Dancing Writer

Visual Inspirations from The Dancing Writer

As writers, we all have things that inspired us to create the stories that we have. I am obviously no different, so I want to take you on a visual journey of legit things that inspired me to create When Stars Die and this current novel I won’t reveal until I have 31 posts written–also a few visual things for my published short story Dead Poet’s Pendulum that you can find on Google Reader from The Oddville Press.

Welcome to my mind.

Wednesday

No lie. This girl was in a nightmare of mine I had way back in the sixth grade. But she was someone else, a frightening murderer trying to kill off my sixth grade class. She’s evolved over time though into Amelia Gareth, the MC of When Stars Die. Amelia’s character is based off her design, but with a more mature, down-to-earth look.

GemmaThis book fueled my fascination for all things 19th century–and now I can’t stop putting my stories in this era. When Stars Die is set in the nineteenth century, except things are at a convent, but decorum, mannerisms, social cues, are all the same. Dead Poet’s Pendulum is set in the 19th century as well, albeit an alternate universe. There is also a village in my new novel that draws inspiration from the nineteenth century and adds a modern twist.

Alice This entire game fueled my love for all things twisted and psychologically complex. Plus, the various costumes Alice wears (which, I would argue, are in the line of Lolita fashion) are irresistible. Alice in Wonderland in general inspired my new novel. There are going to be various allusions throughout, but Madness Returns inspired the dark side of the novel to render it a dark fairy tale.

Wayward The writing in this book isn’t the best, but the story is just plain fun. Emilie’s world collides with Emily’s (with a Y) world to make you wonder which world is real and which is not: the modern day asylum Emilie is currently in or the 19th century asylum torture chamber Emily (with a Y) exists in. ¬†The interesting world in this story inspired the style of the village in my new novel and the antagonist of the book inspired my own antagonist, and the book overall inspired the fashion of the characters in this book. The illustrations also inspired the dolls and puppets that play a crucial role in my new novel. Here is one such illustration: Rat

Shilo

Shiloh from Repo: The Genetic Opera. This one isn’t so much my writing as it is my entire style. I’m sort of a clash between Sweet Lolita and Gothic Lolita. It depends on whatever I feel like I want to wear that day. But a movie such as this inspires me to keep writing dark: dark paranormal, dark fairy tales, just dark books in general.

And last:

alois

This little beauty is Alois Trancy from Kuroshitsuji II. The design of the main character in my new novel is actually based off his design. Alois’s vulnerability also inspired me to make my MC just as vulnerable. My MC is deliberately beautiful because beauty plays such an enormous role in the tragedy that occurs halfway through the book.

So these are just some of the things that have inspired my writing. I could do an entire book of visuals that put me in the mood. Stars, I’d be interested in you doing visual inspiration posts as well. Everyone loves looking at pictures, after all. They hold even more meaning when we know they’ve inspired people to do great things.