Monday, March 28, 2016

#4 Naming what holds me back--and changing it.

I had a terrifying realization today: the thing most holding back my writing carer at the moment is the fear of coming out to family and friends.

After all, established family and friends who already follow my writings scattered across pretty much every platform except my own are basically an instant audience. I already know they like my writing style and are interested in what I have to say.

The problem? They fall into two distinct gorups: the 'wild' group doesn't know my actual name for safety reasons, and the 'conservative' group doesn't know about my wild side for sanity purposes. Combined with my established anxiety disorder, this results in feeling that writing real stuff with my real name spells real disaster.

I identified four things about myself today that are never going to change and must be reconciled somehow:

  1. I'm a writer. I'm always going to be writing somewhere, somehow, in some form.
  2. My natural writing style includes sharing about my personal life to the point of oversharing. Always has, always will.
  3. My immediate and large extensive family is extremely conservative Christians.
  4. I live a nonconventional lifestyle and identify as kinky, something that I'm passionate about discussing and being open about

As for the fourth point, such things might or might not be the focus of writing projects to come but avoiding any references whatsoever stifles my writing and ends up stalling me into serious writer's block.

This morning was a classic case of realizing why I've failed in the past. Perhaps other writers can be successful while anonymous, but I was always scared of success because the bigger it gets, the harder it is to hide.

I don't hide it because I'm ashamed of the lifestyle; I hide it because I haven't felt up to dealing with the backlash.

But now I have a specific goal in mind: become a successful writer. And I'm realized:

It doesn't work to seek publicity while hiding at the same time.

Damn, this is scary.

But it's my lesson for today. Takes a deep breath...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

#3 Rejecting standard blog advice

I don't do things the normal way.

Tell me "how it's done" and I'll be the first to protest that it's counter-intuitive and I can think of a better way, so I'm off to experiment kthanksbye.

Sometimes it works out for me and life is awesome. Most of the time, though, I end up falling flat on my face a dozen times or so before I'll admit that the standard way is better and grudgingly try it.

I'm approaching my goal to write for a living the same way.

And even though I'm aware of this tendency, I still don't want to change it.

I'm still listening when my gut screams "NO!" at standard advice and embarking instead on my own version of doing things.

Maybe that means I'll fall down more than the average writer, but I don't think that means I'll fail.

Rather, I think it means that when I succeed, my success will be uniquely mine and crafted in a way that feels natural to maintain.

Don't get me wrong, I still appreciate all the advice out there and am learning a TON of great things. There's a lot of info that I soak in like a sponge and am ready to follow it to the letter.

But, for example, "write in the 'you' voice as much as possible"? Like HELL I will! I'm not an expert yet, and won't be for a while. Simplistic how-to articles drive me nuts.

On the other hand, brutal honesty documenting my journey through life is a hallmark that has touched nearly every piece of my writing for over a decade. I like to write in a manner that emphasizes just how human I am, how fragile I can be emotionally, how sometimes I feel like a total klutz, the mistakes I make and in this case even knowingly plow forward in what others advise is the "wrong" direction.

And what I've found in the past is I cultivate an audience that can relate. That feel relieved to read my posts, because diving into the painful depths of just how human I am--yet somehow still okay--reassures them on a gut level that they're okay too.

When I make mistakes, it won't be "You should avoid this, here's my experience, learn from it." It'll just be "This was my experience and by golly that was a doozey. I won't be doing that again!"

I rely on my audience to be smart enough to put the pieces together that maybe they might want to avoid doing that thing, too. Or at least consider themselves warned.

Someone* once said, "If you're smart, you'll learn from your mistakes. If you're wise, you'll learn from the mistakes of others."

It's a good quote. In theory, I totally agree with it.

In practice? I'm more like Frankie Ballard singing "How am I ever gonna get to be old and wise if I ain't ever young and crazy?"

Young and crazy signing off!

*Original author unknown, so many claim credit for this quote in its various forms I cannot distinguish appropriate attribution.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

#2 On weathering self-doubt

Soon after my last post I began to research.

I googled "blogs on how to write" and poured through their contents.

The more I read, the more overwhelmed I became.

Finally, I had had enough. My brain was short-circuiting with information overload.

I shut the laptop and took off on a walk. Frustrated.

As I stormed the forest trail, my thoughts became deluged with doubts as muddy as my shoes. What the heck are you thinking? You've never been successful at any long-term writing stints before, what makes this one different? You're not like those other successful people. It isn't too late to take it all back. You're making a fool of yourself.

I pursed my lips and kept going.

It's never going to amount to anything, my brain continued.

I didn't try to counter it. Instead I let it roll like a good friend letting another get a rant out of their system.

Why would anyone want to listen to you, anyway?

I grit my teeth.

Eventually, the flurry had spent itself, and I continued on in peace for a bit.

Then, more thoughts surfaced.

Remember that one person that said you're an amazing writer?

...and how that other person went on and on about it?

A fleeting smile graced my lips.

And how good it feels to publish a piece you're proud of?

Now my mindset was beginning to shift, and I realized something: everyone who's ever successfully earned a living with their writing has stood in my shoes. They've doubted themselves. Felt overwhelmed. Undervalued their work. Faced logistical issues. Risked flopping.

I'm not alone.

In fact, experiences such as this are practically a rite of passage in any artistic pursuit!

My pace relaxed, no longer frantic. I've got this. It'll be okay.

Then it occurred to me, if I feel better reminding myself that I'm not alone in experiencing these things, wouldn't others too?

Words soon began flooding my brain so quickly I rushed to return so I could put them down here.

To anyone out there starting this journey who gets smacked in the face with huge pile of doubt, frustration, logistical difficulties, whatever...YOU'RE NOT ALONE. I'm right there with you fighting those same battles.

And y'know what? I think I'm going to make it.

I think you will too.

Because I want this, and if you're reading this so do you. I want it so bad that even though I felt completely done with writing work for the day, at the end of my walk I wanted nothing more to do than to come back here and write more. I was drawn to do so; it felt almost painful until the words came out.

I can't help it. I'm a writer whether I want to be or not, so I figure I may as well get good at it. If these phases of self-doubt and feeling overwhelmed come with the territory then I'll just have to get accustomed to weathering them.

I'm not alone. You're not alone. We can do this!

Friday, March 25, 2016

#1 I'm a writer... I just need to learn how.

I'm a writer.

I've always been a writer. As a kid I kept journals and wrote poetry. As a teenager I added on a few blogs and also song-writing, not that any of those were much good in my opinion of today--but every piece was an expression of myself and it felt as natural as talking.

As an adult now I shock friends who see my posts on social media or hear a song I've penned and exclaim "You're a writer! You should write a book!"

Except I'm not; not in the way that generates income, anyway.

In order to make money writing you need to be able to write when you don't feel like it.

I don't have much practice doing that.

In fact, when I've tried, it's typically made things even worse--I end up totally stressed and with a piece I can't even recognize as my own.

A major reason my previous blogs have failed is because success paralyzes me with various kinds of writer's block.

Today I decided that while I'm in this process of trying to figure out what to do with my life and identify stable sources of income, I should start here.

Instead of blogging my passion, I'm going to blog my problem. My writing skills need improvement and here's where I can experiment with what works for me without going off topic. Because it is the topic. Genius, right?

Behold, my first official step to writing professionally. Here goes!