As I cracked the cover on a brand new calendar designed by my grandfather-in-law, I anxiously tried to map out how many of those squares I could designate for writing days. I wondered if I could even estimate how many writing blocks I needed in order to complete and hone my manuscript and writing sample in time for my submission date in March...and the conference dates in April. And like writers Rachel Hollis and Glennon Doyle, I needed to work at silencing the sabotaging voices in my head.
First, I had to silence the voice that told me I can’t do this because my writing isn’t good enough.
I tend to take rejection pretty hard, so this past summer, after applying to two competitive writing classes, I was discouraged by being rejected for one and waitlisted (and never accepted) for the other. Fortunately, I had already internalized a version of the advice Rachel Hollis gives in her book Girl, Wash Your Face:
And then, in the middle of lunch on a Thursday, there it was in my inbox:
Congratulations, your application has been accepted!
I smiled. And then I marked down those dates in pen. I wanted to keep learning the craft of memoir, and I wanted a class to hold me accountable to my project.
In the past few weeks though, there have been other voices that attempt to distract me. One says, you have other things to do besides this…
Writer Glennon Doyle shares her complicated relationship with writing in her book Love Warrior:
If you follow my blog, you’ll have noticed that I spend a lot of time reading. A lot. And I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to write about before I spend the time actually writing it. So I also take time to consider what else I could be doing with all of that time.
But last week, as I was walking to my local coffee shop to tackle another writing block, I realized that I was about to spend the day exactly how I always had wanted to -- by writing for several hours before returning home to spend the afternoon with my kids, dinnertime with my husband as well, and the evening out at a community event. Really, I decided, the only way the day could have been better was if I had been wearing a sundress. The winter cold has been biting lately, and I always look longingly toward summer this time of year.
I am not escaping from my life by writing about it, I reassured myself. And I don’t think writing is always an escape for a writer like Glennon Doyle. It comes down to this: it is in me to create. It has always been in me. I read and write as much as I do because I can’t stop it. Just when I think the well is running dry, I feel overpowered by an idea or observation and I have to take the time to pursue it and flesh it out. I have written about this before.
But I suppose it is a bit tiring at times. And at those times, I have to fight a third voice, the voice that suggests a rest would be nice… Because while it might be fun and relaxing to stream movies and be entertained for awhile in the evenings, while it might be warmer to sit by the living room fireplace then venture out in the cold to go to community events, Bible study or writing class, there’s a rest I find more satisfying when I am out engaging with the world and with the purposes in front of me.
So, with new January resolution, I have something to say back to the voices:
True, I have heard ‘no’ in the past. But I have also heard ‘yes.’
I could do things other than spend time writing. But I write because I love it.
And lastly, thanks to my favorite singer/songwriter of all time, I understand “there’s a rest in your work that you can’t get out of sleep.” (Rich Mullins, When You Love)
What are the voices holding you back, and what will you say to them?
Here you will find a catalog of my writing and reflections.