Stuck in Process

I had this interview once where they asked me about my writing experience.

I couldn’t very well say, “I could send you this short story I wrote in seventh grade about this  boy wizard, but like, it’s not a ripoff of Harry Potter or anything. Pinky swear.” And so I shrugged and said I had focused more on editing and the publishing process in college, not focusing on the words that floated around in my head and always found themselves scribbled on some paper. Fixing someone else’s words was exhilarating; coming up with my own (and showing them to people) was terrifying.

Later, the interviewer told me one of the main reasons I didn’t get the job was because I had very little writing experience.

For someone who has always considered themselves a word connoisseur, this deflated me. I didn’t have writing experience. Nothing that counted, anyway. All of the short stories and attempts-at-novels and plot lines I had written down counted for nothing my resume.

Theory: Maybe it was around the time that I decided to turn into an adult that I lost my creativity.

I had notebooks filling my childhood desk at home and another one I always kept in my bag during college for when the idea struck. I pulled it out only a few times in college. I’d rather go to Beer Rhetorics, or watch the Bachelorette, or shop on Grand River. I didn’t sit at the computer so much anymore, slamming away on the keyboard for hours at a time, my fingers not moving fast enough to satiate what my brain was telling me to say. I didn’t really notice until I started interviewing for big girl jobs that I had grown up from the idealistic “writer,” and had grown into the “editor.” I had transitioned from one world of words to the other without even realizing it.

Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE editing. I freelance edit, I edit at my job, I even edit some of Vanessa’s stuff from time to time.

I guess I’m having a hard time adjusting to this “correctness” problem. I can’t write a shitty first draft. I can’t get lost in the tale anymore; I get lost in the syntax, the commas.

Vanessa recently challenged me to get back into writing. I have been dipping my toes into it again, testing the water and seeing how it feels. It feels okay, I guess. A little like it used to, but still foreign and forced.

I haven’t changed all that much from over a month ago. I’m trying to put words to paper, but dragging my heels every step of the way. I can practically taste the inspiration — I have the desire to continue, the general idea of what I want this unwritten tale to be — but I can’t wrap my fingers around it.

So I’m reaching out to you, writers. What tactics do you use to get yourself out of a funk?

Lauren is a social media guru/web content manager/overall awesome editor. She spends too much time talking about Game of Thrones and the Oxford comma. To be insta-best friends, follow her on twitter.

2 thoughts on “Stuck in Process

  1. Good question. I’ve been off writing for a long time because of other stresses (mostly submission anxiety), and recently decided I’m going to jump back in again. It’s less intimidating if you start by writing something with no stakes involved, I think. You can try free-writing an independent scene in something you’ve been thinking about, or tackling a short story first (that’s my intent). Or take some writing prompts like Laurie Halse Anderson has on her blog. (She’s doing a thing right now.) I don’t particularly like the “commit to writing X words a day/X minutes a day” technique, but I’ve heard that works for some people too.

    Good luck!

    (I’m an editor and writer too–nice to meet you!)

    • Julie, thanks for the suggestion. I have been reading some of Laurie’s blog posts this morning. Love her style, and LOVE how she includes prompts at the end of each post!

      (Nice to meet you too! :))

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