Monday, April 19, 2010

The New Thing (Part One): Reasons to quit writing

I spent most of last year profoundly unhappy about writing. If you look back at the archives, you can probably tell: a regular series of posts entitled "Why I'm Not Writing", referring to the projects I was working on as 'Old Thing #1' and 'Old Thing #2'. I was frustrated, bored and had a general sense of being trapped in a grind that was only partially alleviated by doing PLAY! (my regular two-week breaks to play around with new and old ideas I'm enthusiastic about).

Most importantly, I was developing bad beliefs about writing. Beliefs like "I am afraid of writing". And "writing freaks me out." I was developing fears that if I started another piece of writing I'd get trapped by it - like my seven-year stint on The Limit. These fears and self-destructive thoughts were coming from some pretty reasonable places:

+ doing some spec rewriting on a project that didn't enthuse me
+ the high-pressure environment of working on lovebites and facelift
+ putting immense pressure on myself to finish stuff and make my projects live up to either the ideal in my head or their own potential.

Writing was turning away from being a source of joy and expression for me, and becoming a source of self-pressure, self-criticism and obligation. Not fun. As a result, writing was painful and slow. I became reluctant to commit things because no project seemed "good enough" to warrant the time I'd invest in it.

Ultimately, I began to consider stopping writing altogether. I started to mentally experiment with changing my identity to 'not a writer' and to consider what other things I could do with my life.

So there you go. I spent 2009 afraid of writing and thinking about quitting.

That's Act One. In the next two posts, I'll cover Act Two in which some help arrives from an unexpected source and I change my life (a little bit).

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