Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Writer's Journey - Neglect

For the past week or so, I've been mulling over plans to write a string of blog posts on the writer's journey. However, what I've done is neglected my blog completely.

At first this frustrated me. Then I realized, it's definitely part of the writer's journey.

As a unpublished author, I have no one waiting for my work - no agent on my back nor publishing deadline to meet. In that situation, it's easy to take my time on a project or more likely let something else occupy my attention.

This week, Westmoreland County Community College is occupying my attention. Classes start Thursday, and although I was originally assigned late start classes that don't begin until Sept. 17, my assignment was changed and now my syllabus and lesson plans have to be ready by - tomorrow.

It's a legitimate reason to neglect my writing-in-progress. Yet, I wonder. Is it? Really?

Even with the confusion of how to turn my lectures into podcasts, couldn't I find fifteen minutes or potentially an hour in the day to write?

Am I behaving just like the students I'm about to teach in procrastinating my writing assignments until the very last minute? And why do students do that?

They tell me it's because they don't know what they want to write about. That's a nicer way of admitting they can't commit to something to write about.

Kind of how I can't commit to a controlling idea for my next book and how that's holding me back.

Other reasons?

They work better under pressure.

Hmmn. Is this ever really true? What are the chances this excuse is simply one that makes people feel better about themselves? It's admirable to be good under pressure. But what if it's not the pressure of the deadline (although I give in to the fact that helps)? What if the reason the writing got done is because the student did what so many writers insist others do?

Put your butt in the chair and just write.

Kind of how I didn't think I was going to write this blog when I opened Internet Explorer, but I just started writing, and voila - a simple blog post worth the Pulitzer!

The final reason I get from students rationalizing their last minute writing might be the most telling of all.

"Professor Girardi, I'm just not a good writer. I never was."

Deep breath.

What if it's true?

I thought I was the only writer who felt she could never put another worthwhile sentence together. Then I listened to published writers talk about the feeling after they sell a book.

The fear they might never be able to do it again.

Maybe as I face new students for the first time tomorrow, this lesson might be a good one to share with them. The insecurities with writing never completely go away. Building confidence is certainly necessary, but there will be times they question themselves.

The only thing they can do is learn how to deal with the insecurities because the essays, reports, proposals, memos, and releases will have to be written with or without confidence.

Maybe it's true that the greatest writing advice of all is to put your backside in the chair and just start writing.

"You just have to go on when it is worst and most helpless - there is only one thing to do with a novel and that is go straight on through to the end of the damn thing." -Ernest Hemingway, in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1929

No comments:

Post a Comment