Expectations are heavy things. One or two are alright, if you’re up for them. Once you start to collect a lot of them, though, the weight can crush you. The thing is, not all of them are yours. Sure, your expectations can be problematic when you’re looking for something you probably won’t get, but other people’s are usually heavier in my experience. I can simply put my own down. If I drop someone else’s, I feel like I’m letting them down or disappointing them. They can come in the form of wonderful compliments, but that doesn’t change the fact that someone has their eyes on you. I love that I’ve inspired people, but I feel like now there’s pressure to continue inspiring people.
That’s sort of why I do this blog, though, if I’m going to set aside the main goals of “public accountability when it comes to my writing goals” and “having a place to put the stuff I write.” The reason I write the things I do and unabashedly post about my mental health and personal life is that I want to create a place where other people who are struggling can find some comfort, rest, or understanding. I know my audience isn’t huge, but I’ve got my own little corner of the internet and I’m doing my best to shout so anyone who wanders by can hear something that is supportive and hopefully helpful. If I’m inspiring people to write, that’s great! I’m so happy to be able to have a positive effect on the world (and that’s my real life goal right there). If people think of me when they hear about someone who works really hard, then I guess that’s pretty apt because I work my ass off most of the time. They might feel like expectations sometimes, but that’s my own problem to deal with. I’m the person who is taking them that way.
When I want to give up on writing, when nothing else is helping and the little voice in my head that constantly fills my thoughts with “nothing you do will ever be enough” and “there’s no point in trying because you and everything you do is worthless” is winning, I take the time to sit down and write out a list of reasons why I write. There are a lot of consistent things on the list that hearken back to my reasons for beings. Things like “to help make the world a better place” and “to give other people what my favorite books gave to me: a place escape and hide away from a world that sometimes felt like it was out to get me” are usually first. Then there are things like “because storytelling fulfills me in ways that nothing else ever has” and “I need something meaningful in my life and telling stories is more full of meaning that anything else I’ve ever considered” that come and go as the way I view my life shifts. The last things are the ones that change from one year to the next, or even one month to the next, like “because I’m going for two years of consecutive days without missing a blog post” or “I want to wrap up this project by a certain time.”
The list helps because it’s all about me and why I write. It has nothing to do with whoever reads my stuff, with people involved in my life, or what might be going on the world. It is focused entirely on the intrinsic value of writing and that little voice in my head has nothing to say about whether or not those things are true or worthwhile. Plus, it tends to lead to some really productive introspection that helps me center myself. Between yesterday and today, I think I’ve gotten my feet underneath myself again. Hopefully this next week of November will be more productive that the last.
I’m still not ready to talk about what’s going on in my life, but now it’s because I kind of want to focus on writing for a bit. There’s a time and a place for everything and sad stories that are going to require me to spend some time on emotional recovery should not be a part of trying to right the writing ship of this particular National Novel Writing Month. I’ve done almost not work on this weekend’s goals, so I’m going to forego sob stories and instead focus on trying to get a daily allotment of words written. Which is my new goal. Get words done every day. I need to dial it back while I’m getting back up to speed again. Otherwise, I’m just going to burn myself out getting nowhere. I’ll hopefully be able to write about my real progress for Monday’s blog post, but we’ll see.
I hope your weekend is off to a good start and that you’ve managed to continue making progress on your National Novel Writing Month project! I also hope your weekend continues to be good or improves and that you can make the time and energy to get some writing done. Good luck!
Action sequences can be really fun! Maybe there’s a fight brewing and your protagonist finally gets to show off their moves or maybe they drop a jar and, through a lucky combination of juggles, grabs, and kicks manages to keep it from hitting the floor. Whatever the reason there’s action, show it to us today! Write about the way the characters involved move through space, the way people respond to their movement, and make sure we know where everyone is so we can make sure that the person walking down the stairs who manages to securely catch the jar at the end actually had a clear line of effect from the person who gave it a last desperate kick to hopefully land it on the couch in the other room.
One of the most complex (in a good way), detailed stories I’ve ever read and enjoyed (sorry, Silmarillion) is Erfworld. It has been going on for ages and the amount of foreshadowing in every chapter is staggering. The attention to detail, the way every single thing in a page is important, and the fact that you’re usually right if you see something and wonder “is this important?” is mind-boggling. And the best part is that most of the twists are STILL unexpected. Or, if they’re expected, they’re still deeply satisfying. The characters are amazing and I’ve never been more hooked on a story and the characters taking part in it for as long as I can remember.
Like I mentioned above, creating a list of the reasons I write is super helpful for me when I’m having a difficult time staying focused over a long period of time or when I’m feeling particularly down. You should spend some time to do the same. It can be incredibly helpful as a mental exercise because it will hopefully help you figure out why you’ve decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Once you have the answer to that question, pushing through some of the bigger slumps or more difficult days will be easier because your reasons will be clear. If your reasons for writing are “to become inundated in attractive people I am sexually interested in” or “so I can make tons of money and build a bed out of hundred dollar bill” like some kind of nest-based Scrooge McDuck, then you should probably reexamine your choice since neither of those things happen to most writers. I suspect Neil Gaiman could do the former and that J.K. Rowling could do the latter, but both of them write because they love stories. The desire for money or a cadre of beautiful people isn’t really a motive that’ll help you push through a difficult day.
That being said, I’m not gonna judge you if those are your motivations since they might actually help you write. I’d just recommend setting some more reasonable expectations for the results of this month of writing.