Staying Sane For Writers. Or not.
The title of this blog is something of an oxymoron. It implies that we writers are sane to begin with, and we all know that's not true. We're not as crazy as artists or, say those carnival people who stick a flaming torch into their mouths and then spew a fiery burst into the air. They are crazy. But we aren't that far off.
We writers are not sane. We most certainly are not.
Here is why:
- We want our writing to be loved by everyone. As Talia said, this is a business in which public acceptance is wanted. Needed, even. But unconditional love from the public is also impossible. And though I don't really want my writing to be loved by everyone... I kind of want it to be loved by everyone. See how the crazy is kicking in?
- Also, we want people to adore our work but they have to adore it the right way. Like... don't like the wrong things, ok? "What do you mean, you loved the secondary character? He was an afterthought! I worked for a week straight to get the setting and the pace just right! Are we even talking about the same scene?"
- We're comfortable spending days in our pajamas, and showers, while wonderful for brainstorming, are somewhat scarce. A good friend of mine says writing is, "pants-optional." I haven't tried the no pants thing yet, but give me a little time.
- We strive for perfection. In our phrases. Our characters. Our plots. And let me tell it to you straight: that is just stupid. No one is perfect. Nothing is perfect. Nothing. Except maybe mint chip ice cream.
- We talk to ourselves. (Go ahead and admit it.)
- We argue with imaginary people. (Characters, not you.)(I don't mean to imply that we are arguing or that you are imaginary, but I don't actually know who you are, unfortunately.)(Leave a comment below! Then I will know.)
- We crush on imaginary people created by other authors. (He-llooo, Finnick.)
- We are dependent on things. (coffee, diet coke, coffee, wine, chocolate, tea, goodreads, coffee, twitter.... BOOKS.)
- We make lists of all the ways we are a little nuts.
- And share them publicly.
- We speak our own crazy language. When we say, "I'm going to spend the night working on my WIP," we don't mean it in a 50 Shades of Greyish way. We talk about Inciting Incidents and Points of No Return. We kill darlings and meet up in places like BEA and SCBWI. You know you're definitely in the crazy-writer club if you totally understand this: "Let's hit RWA first, and then rendezvous at ALA so we can grab ARCs of the Winter 12 list." I've said it before.... we are like the military, only a lot less cool.
I'm going to stop there but I think I've made my case. Our starting point for sanity is a little different than it is for most people. We creative types are special. To use another oxymoron, we are normally crazy.
So I'm here to tell you to just own it.
Go batshit crazy and don't shower for a few days, gorge yourself on chocolate, chase it down with some black coffee, tear your pants off and get to work on your WIP. If you don't, your MC will never have an Inciting Incident, leading to a Point of No Return, nor will they ever appear in an ARC at BEA or ALA or ABA.
Crazy is part of the magic. Crazy, while challenging, is not your enemy. Yes, it can get overwhelming and even more crazy when you add in things like deadlines and marketing plans. Submissions and query letters and critiques that just don't go your way. That's okay. You'll come back to Normal Crazy in time.
Push through the tough patches however you can, embrace your specialness, and do the work.
Pants on or off.
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