By: Regina Milton, who asks that you check out her favorite charity, Mocha Club
The Art of Writing would not be what it is without a few miscreants…the unbelievers, haters, extortionists, the untalented, the naysayers and those who consider themselves unofficial beacons of negativity. Instead of bringing you (true artists) down, these people challenge you to step up your game, frustrate you into action, or inspire you to not “do ordinary” but to reach for something more meaningful. We have all come to know one/some of these at one point. They are discontented people who at first seem to be enemies of art, but instead are catalysts to our creativity. I thank you scoundrels, but this post (and subsequently Nathan’s entire blog) is not for you.
There are many of you out there who speak with a true voice and who posses God given creativity that shows in what you say, how you move and what you make. I salute you, you are artists. You have a vision and a voice. You are not afraid of the hard work it takes to start something. You are not taken down by the rejections and criticism that challenge you as you present a finished product to the world. You are art. You sow hard work and originality; you reap beauty…and hopefully the satisfaction of someone else out there “getting” you. You politely (in your head) laugh at those who rudely (out loud) laugh at you, claiming that your job as a writer is not a real job and is not actually difficult. They feel that they “really work” and that writing (slaving away on a computer writing thousands of words per day) is an utter joke, and is something that they could do in their sleep…with the flu.
It can be a blow to morale to run into the people and forces that are in motion to stop you from being who you are called to be. It sucks to turn on the radio and hear music that makes you feel like you are losing brain cells when you know what you have to say has meaning. It is discouraging to read a book that you feel was a sad waste of the recycled paper it was printed on. I’m not one of those people who consider mainstream products as evil things created by wily people that are akin to Gollum (yes, it is important to reference The Lord of the Rings on all blog posts). Sure there are crafty individuals in the industries that fill our music stores, book stores and movie theaters with “mediocre mania” just so they can make a buck (actually a few hundred thousand), but art is not dead. Note: many mainstream things are so because they are quality and they appeal to a large audience. Don’t give up hope or adopt a sour attitude if you encounter mediocrity that you think should have never been published.
Art is alive, and while I’ll not deny that it is being attacked by sources outside of your control (“The Man”) I’d like to argue that the biggest enemies of your work, the unsung villains that actually stop you, are inside of you. They take on the following guises:
complacency – that thing that stops us from rewriting a bad chapter one last time
doubt – the voice that says “your book will never be good enough, why even finish?”
pride – the force that convinces us to not take any more writing classes or attend any more seminars, because we’ve already “arrived”
fear – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of agents, fear of being misunderstood, fear that we are wasting our time, fear of hard work
writer’s fatigue – yes, it takes a long time to make things perfect
procrastination – not making the effort until the last moment (sure this sometimes produces brilliant work, but it often results in shoddy writing)
All these things are rooted in a general laziness and lack of trust in self. Confidence and consistent effort show in our work. We need to combat these things that are intrinsic to our nature by learning all we can, writing all we can, and believing all we can about ourselves. If we are prone to bouts of sluggishness, we should seek out an accountability partner and set deadlines for ourselves. By now we should know our own nature. We should pinpoint problem areas and make plans to work through them, even if it means asking for help (I know it is a horrible word, not to be used by professionals, but let’s be serious…we all need it sometime). That being said, what are the unsung villains of your work and what tricks have you learned to you combat them?