Tag Archives: Artistic Expression

How Do You Deal With Criticism, Writer’s Block And Burnout?

2 May

This past Friday, I met up with one of my writing mentors, Mike, that I hadn’t seen in over 2 years. It was great to see him, and we had a great hour and a half conversation about writing, life, struggles, etc. Since Mike is one of those people who is a writer himself and will tell me the honest truth, sometimes I’m a bit hesitant to share what I’ve written with him.

I have yet to share any part of my book with him because I feel like I’m still in the early stage of writing my memoir. I only started writing at the end of January, and I’ve only written about 12 pages (which I’m not exactly proud of. However, I was dealing with schoolwork up until a little less than a week ago, so what can you do?). Though I’ve only written 12 pages, at this point, I’m still very close to those 12 pages of my life, my heart, and ultimately, my soul. Those 12 pages are memories that I’ve pulled directly from my heart and written down. They aren’t changed in any way. They are as close to the actual truth that I have been able to get (since I’ve realized that I’ve blocked out a good chunk of memories due to their degree of pain). Deep down, I’m not ready to share anything yet. I still feel so emotionally close to what I’ve written so far. I mean, it’s my life. It’s what I felt, not just physically, but emotionally too. How can I turn it over to someone to critique just yet? I understand that dealing with criticism is a huge part of being a writer. I also understand that I’m going to get good and bad criticism, and it’s important to focus on the good criticism since that is the advice that will propel me forward. However, I just feel like it’s too soon. Does that make sense?

Now that I’m done with academics until the fall semester (or until I study abroad in Ireland in June), I have the time to sit down with my memoir and try to sort through as many memories as I can that I have yet to write down. However, at this point, I’m just not sure where to go. I sit down to write, and nothing comes out. I think it’s primarily because I’m not in the right mindset for the memories to surface. The things that I want to share aren’t particularly happy, so sitting down to write when I’m in a relatively cheerful mood doesn’t get me anywhere. Though I understand that the writing process isn’t something that occurs overnight, it’s hard to wait when I just want to finally get all the painful memories out. They’ve been buried inside for so long. We all have to face our demons eventually. I may as well start now.

When I talked with Mike on Friday, he made the comment that my memoir is something that I shouldn’t force, and since it is such a delicate topic for me, it’s something that I should try to not get too frustrated over. However, since the process of writing is frustrating anyway, some frustration is normal. I think the best advice Mike gave me was to start another writing project (as well as working on my memoir). He pointed out that since my memoir is such an emotionally heavy project, it’d be good to work on something light on the side. Whether it’s poetry or a short story, working on another project is good when I’m stuck on my memoir. Mike said “Even if you write a short story about bunnies, you’re writing. That’s all that matters.” Mike has made a point to tell me that writing every day is an important part of writing. Even though I’ve seen the benefits of that (through this blog, mainly), I guess I didn’t consider starting another writing project.

I didn’t consider starting to write something other than my memoir because my memoir was taking up so much of my emotional energy. However, now that I take a second look at it, I guess that’s why people take on multiple writing projects….to give their mind a break from focusing on the same writing project day in and day out. I know that since I’ve started my memoir, there have been days that I just don’t feel like working on it. However, in the back of my mind, I know that I’ve got to work on something if I want my writing spark to stay alive. There have been previous times in my life when I’ve taken breaks from writing, but not just a break from a particular writing project, but a break from writing altogether. Even though in those instances I’ve eventually returned to writing, the breaks from writing have made it even harder to get back into the swing of things.

So, moral of the story: Write every day (no matter what), don’t let a certain writing project burn you out (start something else to keep your writing juices flowing, while also allowing yourself to have a break from the first writing project), and don’t give up (I know writing is frustrating, but for the few of us who love it, writing is our passion, our love, and the only way we can accurately portray ourselves).

Are you ever hesitant to share something you’ve written because you’re too emotionally close to it? How do you deal with criticism? Would you rather focus on one writing project at a time or split your time between two different writing projects and why? I’d love feedback from you fellow writers! 

Advertisements

Writing Quotes.

9 Apr

Over the past few days, I’ve been looking for quotes that explain what I’ve been feeling as I’ve been writing my book. Through the quotes I’ve come across, I’ve realized that all writers struggle with loneliness, dark days, insecurity and days when it feels as if those that aren’t also writers can’t understand what they are feeling. I’ve compiled a list of quotes that either resonated with me or helped encourage me to keep on digging up memories of my past to ultimately share my story with the world.

  • “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” -Anton Chekhov
  • “Tears are words that need to be written.” -Paulo Coelho
  • “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” -Natalie Goldberg
  • “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” -Stephen King
  • “With writing, we have second chances.” -Johnathon Safran Foer
  • “When you’re missing a piece of yourself, aching, gut wrenching emptiness begins to take over. Until you find the link that completes your very soul, the feeling will never go away. Most people find a way to fill this void, material possessions, a string of relationships, affairs, food…I bear my soul, with words, for all to see.” -Jennifer Salaiz
  • “You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.” -Stephen King
  • “I am simply of the opinion that you cannot be taught to write. You have to spend a lifetime in love with words.” -Craig Claiborne
  • “If a story is in you, it has to come out.” -William Faulkner
  • “A story isn’t a charcoal sketch, where every stroke lies on the surface to be seen. It’s an oil painting, filled with layers that the author must uncover so carefully to show its beauty.” -Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
  • “To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the music the words make.” -Truman Capote
  • “Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you’re conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.” -Anne Lamott
  • “Sometimes a book isn’t a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. Sometimes it’s the only story you knew how to tell.” -Tahereh Mafi
  • “When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness. I’m trying for that.” -Maya Angelou
  • “You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. So part of us believes that when the tide starts coming in, we won’t really have lost anything, because actually only a symbol of it was there in the sand. Another part of us thinks we’ll figure out a way to divert the ocean. This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won’t wash them away.” -Anne Lamott

A New Blog Look And My Writing Journey.

31 Mar

“Everything you’re ashamed of, all the parts of yourself that you keep secret, everything you want to change about yourself – it’s who you are. That’s your power. Deny it and you’re nothing.”-Fame

Last night after I watched Fame (the 2003 version…sorry to disappoint), I was messing around on WordPress and decided to change the look of my blog, while also adding a few widgets (or the various things located along my sidebar). I added a countdown to Ireland. As many of you know, I’m studying abroad in Ireland this summer, and I just had to have a countdown. I’ve also got one on my computer that’s broken down in days (it’s 87 days, by the way). That seems so crazy. 87 days until I’m in Galway, Ireland. WHAT?! Ah, so so cool.

Anyway, I’m happy for a new look on here, and I hope you all enjoy it as well. I figured it was time for some change, especially since it’s Spring. Also, in terms of change, I feel like I have changed a lot since beginning this blog back in November. As crazy as it seems, I began this blog 5 months ago. I’ve blogged every single day for the past 5 months. How cool! However, I owe it to all of my amazing followers who’ve given me nothing but support and encouragement. Really, all of you are so awesome!

I feel like I’m a very different person than I was back in November. When I began this blog, I didn’t really know where it would lead. At the time, I didn’t know that in 5 short months I would have established “Tuesday’s Tunes,” “Photo Fridays,” and above all, the beginning of my first novel, a memoir of sorts. I was thinking today about the journey my writing has taken. I haven’t ever been in touch with my own writing as I have since beginning my novel at the end of January. Though I’ve always had a love of writing (despite a 2 year hiatus when I was trying to figure out what I wanted out of life…which I still don’t quite know the answer to), it hasn’t always been this raw, this natural, this true. A lot of what I wrote growing up was fiction: mostly short stories and some poetry too. There were a few times I attempted writing about my own struggles when I was younger, but back then, I didn’t fully understand everything. I still had so many more questions to answer and tons of obstacles to work through. Also, I wasn’t mature enough yet to attempt to understand the reasoning behind my own emotions that I felt as I was going through all my surgeries and physical therapy sessions. However, that doesn’t mean that I’ve got it all figured out now. I definitely don’t. Writing this book is a journey. A journey filled with pain, fear, love, hope, and dreams. And it’s a journey I finally want to take (which has not always been the case).

It’s exciting to know that I’ve reached this point. Yes, the entire process of writing this book will have its ups and downs, but right now, during one of the high points, I’m finding happiness in the fact that I’ve finally found my voice. I’ve found my voice in the sense of finally knowing how I want to share my story. Through writing, yes. But for a while I didn’t know what I wanted my voice to sound like for future readers. However, I’ve begun to understand that there’s only one thing I want my voice to be: authentic. If I’m writing about a memory that’s sad or emotionally hard, I’ll cry through it. If I’m writing about a memory that makes me angry, I’ll be angry. The only way my readers are going to be able to feel all the emotions I went through is if I shed every tear and let out the anger right along with them.