July 17, 2010

The writers' Wall

Being familiar with Hitting the Wall when it comes to endurance sports, and believing that a good preparation and solid nutrition / hydration plan on race day prevents you from running into it, I read tonight about the Wall for writers. And, of course, I just ran straight into that one this morning.

Since April I have been working on a draft with the working title Thoughts of an Independent Author. It's grown to a manuscript of 41,000 words by now and I felt this week that I was ready to shape it into a proper manuscript.

This morning I thought to do a little quick research on what else has been written on and for indie authors and I come across a book by April Hamilton, which seems so great at first glance that I instantly feel my 40,000 words are pretty worthless.

After a great four-hour trail run in my preparation for the STORMY 50-miler on August 8 cleared my mind this afternoon, I am on the couch tonight reading a book by Julia Cameron, The Right to Write: Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life.
In the chapter called Sketching she says “My own experience is that somewhere around two thirds of the way through a piece I suddenly see what the wring was driving at. I see the patterns that have been set up and I get an idea where everything is heading. This point is a scary one. Now that “I” know “I” am doing, I begin to worry that “I” might not be able to pull it off. In other words, my ego wakes up. No longer content to let the writing write through me, it suddenly demands control. It wants this book to be “good”. This is the point that I call “The Wall”. All writers know it."

“The Wall is the point where a previously delightful project comes screeching to a halt. The Wall is the point where doubt sets in. No longer writing for the sake of writing, no longer happy just to splash in the pool, suddenly we think about those other people in the pool with us, whether they are faster, better stronger, showier. In short we begin to compete, not create.”

Clearly I hit that writers' Wall this morning. And I am going to take her advice on getting past it, which is to be "willing to do the work to finish this project whether it is any good or not."

Cameron writes, "When we insist on being great, the Wall stops us. When we are willing to be humble, we wriggle our way under the Wall and back to the glee of writing freely. By being willing to write "badly," we free ourselves to write - and perhaps to write very well."

That's why I love reading on writing, and especially Cameron's as she seems to always say the things I need to hear/read. Tomorrow I will go back to the first draft of my manuscript with a mind free of thinking it has to be great and full of simply writing and rewriting humbly.

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