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Posts from the ‘writing’ Category

Gleanings: The Perfectionism Block and Pen on Fire

“See if this sounds familiar: You sit down to write and as the words begin to flow, you start to judge them. You cross out words or delete them. You fuss with sentences before they’ve even been written, and then you beat yourself up for not being good enough.” ~ Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Pen on Fire.

It’s called the perfectionism trap. Perfect is the enemy of the good is a truth that comes to mind. It’s an affliction born in some of us, grown in others. The above paragraph describes perfectly much of my writing behavior for years, and on occasion in the present.

Yes, you have to stop it. I can testify to that. You have to, as DeMarco-Barrett says, “quiet that internal critic so you can be creative and allow whatever wants to come out to come out.”

Ah, but how does one do that? Let me say that I’ve had a knock-down-drag-out with the perfectionism compulsion. At the beginning of my career, I truly believed that an author was born. That somehow the ‘real’ authors just sat down and words poured forth in perfect arrangements. That if one was a ‘real’ writer, ideas just popped in full-blown and all the writer had to do was take dictation. I have heard more than one writer say this. I would now say that it is not that these writers are ‘real’ or perfect writers, but that they do not suffer from perfectionism. They are possessed of so great an ego that they firmly believe everything they think and write is gold, so they simply write it.

For the rest of we folk struck with sensitive perfectionism (and we perfectionists are invariably sensitive and actually quite talented) there ought to be a 12 Step program. Hello, I’m CurtissAnn, and I’m recovering from perfectionism. I need your support. The trait has affected not only my writing but all parts of my life, anything creative, and living life itself is a creative act.

So, I can give you the benefit of my hard-won recovery in this area. What has helped me the most is to know that there is no good to be found in perfectionism. None. Get that clear. Further, perfectionism is harmful. It’s a poison to good life.

Perfectionism is also useless, as worry is useless. And come to think of it, perfectionism is a form of worry–the worry that one is not good enough, not performing good enough, has not enough to offer. Well, doesn’t the world tell us that all the time? Don’t listen to the world. It lies.

Perfectionism is a lie. There is no such thing as attaining perfection on the earth, not in our writing nor in our lives. It is also a lie that we can be anything but what we are. So letting go of perfectionism is acceptance of who we are, our talent just as it is. It is another lie to say to ourselves (it is the lying voice of perfectionism) that we don’t know anything and can’t write something valuable. Take a look at humanity. Writing is natural to humans. Wanting to communicate is natural to humans. Some of us will have more writing talent than others. What we are each called to do is to use what we have to the best of our ability. Know that it is special in it’s way and fills a niche only it can fill.

If you’re wanting to write, you’ve read a lot. You can write when you’ve read a lot. You can write, and by writing a lot, you get better.

There. Now go write. Just write. Let yourself do it.

The above is the result of me doing free-writing, as encouraged in the book Pen on Fire. It is a great way to start writing.


(Laughing now: I was wanting an image to go with this post. I started looking at them all, couldn’t decide, wanted the ‘perfect’ one. Oh, my…let it go. Get writing, dear hearts.)

Gleanings: Writing Time Management and other struggles

Whether you’re published or not, feeling like you haven’t gotten anything done unless you’ve written even a paragraph is a good indication you are a writer. If you are in love with writing, or simply committed to it, you will take the time. When something is important, you find a way. ~ Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Pen on Fire

Yesterday was my day to care for my mother. This means my day is given over to her needs, monitoring her when she’s making her way around, in case she falls, getting her meals and snacks, (finding her Hershey bars that she suddenly recalls having after six months) and generally being with her nearly every moment, because she is now very frail, blind, sometimes confused and sometimes very sharp, a confusion in itself, and does not like to be alone. She tracks me down when I’m gone from her presence more than 15 minutes. She comes after me with her walker, or, as in the case yesterday when she heard me yelling at the dog and cat on the back porch for fighting and upsetting a flower pot, she comes toddling on her tiny feet, with her hands up and feeling air for walls and door frames. In her flowing robe and white hair on end, she looks like a wraith haunting the room.

Anyway, my point being, no writing took place, and this was okay because it was important to devote the time to my mother. I did think of my book; the imagination is always working. I thought of my characters, their motivations, some scenes came to mind. Yet I did nothing about this. And now after reading the above paragraph, I know that I could have made notes of these ideas for the book. I could have, while sitting with my mother, kept my notebook handy to catch thoughts and plans for my current WIP. Doing this would not have taken anything away from my mother, and would have built me and my spirit.

When something is important to you, you find a way. You call and speak with your love. You plan and dream. You snatch fifteen minutes here, ten there. You require other things to wait, in order to devote time to what is important to you.

One question I’m asking myself is what is important to me? Really important. This may take some time to answer. But knowing is important to me, so I will give it time. Maybe it will help to write about it.

Gleanings: If You’re no Longer in Love With Writing, and other places of commitment

“But if you’re no longer in love with writing, for whatever reasons, then there are only three choices. The first is to abandon writing and look for a new love. The second is to continue with your dull marriage, writing but not loving. The third is to fall in love again.” ~ Eric Maisel, Living the Writer’s Life

The relationship between a writer and writing is a type of marriage, and one thing I have learned from a long marriage union to my husband is that on any given day we arrive at one of the three places named above. In any relationship, we have times of not loving, times of dullness when we carry on but wish we did not, and then times when we fall blessedly back in love again. The think to know is that each of these places of our heart is a choice.

Love is a choice. Not loving is a choice.

I went through each of the three places in my heart many times with writing. Not understanding myself or the nature of love and attitude, I slogged through years of a dull writing life, with one foot out the door, thinking that I had to do something different. When that door opened wide enough, out I went. I transferred my writing affections to caring for a new home and a small boy. It was right to do at the time.

Now I arrive where the choice is to be made again. Am I to write? I dabbled for sometime. And then I made the choice to fall in love with writing, head over heels, all over again.

This is no immature love. I’m in love this time with eyes wide open. Every weekday, I meet my love of writing and work on my project, and in between that, I read and pay attention to words. I play with words and express the pictures I see in my mind, shaving here, refining there, trying to express what I see and feel and know. This love has nothing whatsoever to do with publishing but all to do with my relationship with writing. I know now that being in love with writing means I give it my commitment. I pledge my heart to the writing.

Commitment to our unique way of life, then is our task today and every day. It is not to be undertaken for our self-improvement, nor for salvation of the world or society, but simply because we can do no other if we are to be true to the individual hypothesis of our lives. ~ Helen M. Luke, Women, Earth, and Spirit


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