I stumbled upon a Tumblr post, which listed out many links to articles with writing tips. Now, I don't want anyone to think I'm trying to trash all of these tips. In fact, I saved the link so I could come back and check on it again... once I've calmed down. I think there's probably a lot of good tips in there. However, I found myself clicking on a few (I was particularly drawn to ones with names I found triggering, but that's another topic...) and not being very happy with what was being said.
I also want to mention that pretty much whenever I say something about how I feel, I am not saying that everyone should feel this way. I'm not saying that what works for me has to be the right thing for you. Usually, I'm actually trying to work against the idea, that one way works for everyone. Because it doesn't. What works for me, may not work for you at all. And what works for you, could very well be all wrong for me. Okay, now, that we've covered that...
Something I hear a lot from professional writers is that, to be a true professional, you need to schedule writing time. You need to work even when you aren't feeling inspired. Work hard. Push yourself. Struggle against your boundaries. Get as much done as you possibly can. Well, let me tell you... that doesn't work for me.
Now, I'm not saying you don't have to put hard work into your writing. Most things worth doing take a lot of continued effort. But all I see in those words I italicized is negativity. Do you see it, too? How about looking at words like... Inspiration. Freedom. Creativity. In my experience, creativity cannot be forced. Effort can be forced. Using creativity can be forced. But creativity is something far more natural. And yes, you can do things to encourage the flower to bloom, but it isn't the same as letting it unfold as it will. Creativity needs time and breathing room.
Lissa Rankin has written a series of articles talking about how "masculine" energy is so favored it our culture. She refers to this as pushing yourself as hard as you can to make things happen. And she mentions that this way can definitely work. You can make some things happen (but not all). But in this forcing your way through, you can become completely drained. You can start to feel like nothing you do is ever enough. You can feel like you have to keep working harder and harder to always do better. Pretty much until you die. Or become too sick to continue on in this way. Does that sound like a happy life to you?
The things is, maybe it does. And that's okay. If you are honestly the happiest when you are pushing yourself to the max, great! You need to work in the way that feels best for you. But that is not the only way to make things happen.
Lissa feels people need to get more in touch with their "feminine" energy. It's more about having faith and trusting the Universe (or God or whatever is out there) to help you. It's all about following the dance of inspiration as it strikes and not simply forcing your way through. It's about synchronicity. It's about being open to the idea of everything happening for a reason. It's also about patience. That dream you have may not be happening as quickly as you like. Trust me, I know that it can be hard (if not devastating) to wait for something you are secretly terrified will never happen. But there are some things you flat out cannot force.
People need a balance of both masculine and feminine energy. If you don't put effort into what you want to happen, it probably won't happen all on its own. Prayer and faith are lovely things, but you can't stand back and expect everything to happen just because you wish it. If you want to publish a book, effort must be put into making it happen. Period. But does it have to be this extremely draining, negatively charged experience? No. I don't believe it does.
My body naturally seems to interpret exhaustion as depression. I'm usually at my worst in the couple of hours before I go to bed. Even if I've had a decently good day, I can find myself falling into a depression at night. So, when I let myself get really drained during the day, it can be very painful to get through the evening, and actually, quite hard to get to sleep, even as tired as I am. I also seem to have less energy to work with just in general than the average person. That's just the way I am. So, I have to be smart about how and when I use my energy. And I also have to make sure I'm getting enough time to just relax.
Another concept I'd like to encourage again is that, sometimes, we may be in a cycle of getting a lot done in a short period of time. Other times, not so much. The important part is to use another typically "feminine" energy of intuition to feel whether we're more in a cycle of Expansion or Contraction. And try to be present in whatever cycle it is. Fighting the tides may be necessary occasionally, but following the waves of life is far less stressful. And it doesn't mean we won't get anything done.
Remember how I announced I wasn't going to make myself write for a couple of weeks? Well, I actually got a ton of writing done. I started the second drafts of Dreaming in Shadow and Magic Inc., finished a chapter of Miss Masquerade I'd been struggling with, wrote a full chapter of Spun of Silver, wrote some short scenes from random future stories, and even got about half-way into a new Hate You, Hate Me chapter. All of that in only two weeks. It's almost staggering. But this didn't happen because I was pushing myself. It happened because I let myself be completely free to follow whatever inspiration struck. And also, to let it be okay if it didn't.
Because that's how I work best. And I am done with trying it any other way.
The funny part is, back in 2008, I decided to make a step forward in my effort to write. And it worked. So, I know that sometimes you have to push through even when you aren't very motivated. That is something you may need in order to remain dedicated to your craft. But you don't have to get caught up in the idea that following your path is all about constantly struggling against the tides. Sometimes, it's totally okay to wait for the inspiration to come to you. Other times, you have to search for it. It's all about balance.