Writing is a lonely profession. When we write, we isolate ourselves with our characters and it’s very easy to stay isolated. Fortunately the Internet offers ways to reach out and connect with other writers and I’m vey honoured to have connected with Jamie. His free cheerleading Twitter and Facebook services buoy me along when I’m feeling daunted by how much more writing awaits me. And his blog reminds me that I don’t walkalone on the writer’s path.
Who: Jamie Grove of How Not To Write
Jamie is an unrepentant geek and cosmic dreamer who uses his many gifts to create realities on paper and breathe life into pixels.
Name one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
A few days after finishing my second novel I threw a pity party for myself. I’d worked so hard on the book. I’d done the best I could do, but I knew it wasn’t good enough. It seemed as if I had oceans to cross before I’d ever achieve any measure of competence. I felt adrift and disconnected from my goals.
Even our lowest moments fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
I hoped to give myself a reason to quit. I wanted to look at everything I had yet to do and throw up my hands in resignation.
Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
The work pushed me along. All those characters demanding their stories be told…
They’re an insistent bunch and there’s always one more coming home for dinner. So, I sat myself back down in front of the keyboard and started working on the next book. This is really the only answer for the beginning writer. You have to let go what you are not and push forward with who you are. Writing is a process not a destination.
Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
I felt utterly changed. I’d crossed to the other side but found myself on the shores of yet another ocean, and I knew there’d be another beyond that and so on. The result of this realization is that I knew that I’d never achieve what I felt to be my goal. Instead, I created a new goal: never stop improving as a writer.
Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
I used to suffer from a combination of “My Ship Will Come In” and “I’ll Get Around To It”… These twin pillars of fear formed the legs of a giant Terror of Acceptance.
To rid myself of the Terror of Acceptance, I put more and more out there for the public to see. Now what’s interesting is that my own blog has more readers than the subscriber base of most small press journals where my work might appear. As a result, I accidentally eliminated any sort of logical basis for my fear.
Today, I suffer from “I Might Need It Someday”. My professional skills as a programmer and eCommerce guru keep me tied to my previous life. I have to let this go if I’m going to move forward and become a writer.
Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
I’m creating more projects around writing and fewer around true technology (i.e. development). The benefit of being a highly-skilled web guy is that I can create websites very quickly. However, a website is only as good as its content, and so the writer me has to get to work and fill them up.
Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
It’s hard to switch gears. It’s hard to leave behind the thing you know, the life that’s put food on the table for years. Don’t walk away in disgust or anguish. Embrace the skills you worked hard to develop and change their focus to serve the new life you want. That’s what I’m doing.
If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for?
I’d ask for help in staying on course. I know what I want and I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do to get there. What I have a hard time with escaping the siren call of the New Idea. I can stay on track if there’s someone making sure I’m not out in the workshop at night making some other god-knows-what-thingamajig. That doesn’t mean I won’t sneak out from time to time, but a watchdog would help.
As a side note… People should take the time to answer questions like this seriously. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that the universe does not ask twice. What I mean by this is that when presented with the opportunity to ask for something or jump into something you desire, you should absolutely give it your all. The universe may not respond favorably, but it most assuredly does not ask a second time.