There’s a lot to think about. The other day, I signed up for another Author Fest. This time will be my second appearance at the Lake Geneva Beachside Author Fest at Lake Geneva Wisconsin (link goes to the library hosting the event), the first being a number of years ago. The event is July 10th, and leading up to that time, I have a lot of work to do to be even mildly ready.
For the last few years, I’ve struggled between the ideas of writing every day and getting works revised. In fact, I tend to avoid the latter with surprising gusto. If I was to consider it, I have roughly 7 projects that need to be revised so that I can then have them beta read and revised again. And of that, one only needs a good revision before release. Yet, I avoid it.
Writing every day is important, but so is editing. Editing and revising is where a writer finds their weak points. It’s where we correct mistakes, fill in areas that are too thin, thin out areas that are too thick, and hone the blade of our writing to better fit what we are after. As much as I or others might want to believe that a perfect manuscript can be achieved right at the first go, it just is too improbable to even bother stressing about. Sure, it is a worthy goal to chase; however, counting on perfection in the first go is a fool’s errand. And if anything, it stalls the process overall.
Being up against a deadline of an appearance like the Author Fest brings forward a lot of the anxieties that I am normally throwing to the side — or better said: ignoring. Ignoring these anxieties isn’t a good thing. It’s not like pushing past them; it’s more like covering my eyes and ears and hoping they go away. If I want to get even just one more project ready so that I can have it available at the Author Fest, then I have to face it. I have to face these anxieties.
Like most people, I tend to believe that once I acknowledge my fears or anxieties, then that is enough. Problem solved. However, it isn’t the case. Often, I find that once I acknowledge them, I let everything slip right back to where they were. And they resume their festering. Then things come up, I realize too much time has passed before I have even thought about doing something and it all comes ‘round again. Instead, I need to treat these things as a continual process, something I am never going to escape from. And that’s OK.
Now I know that I can do more than just write each day. I can do more than just revise. I can structure my days, weeks, and months however I need to to accomplish any goals I set forth. All that is needed is for me to step up and get things done. Anxieties faced, fears pushed through, and to put the damn grind in. Because while writing is something that is supposed to be fun, it is more often a grueling, torturous effort that only brings me anxiety and stress. And yet… I have to keep at it.
So let’s talk about those fears and anxieties.
Like everyone else on the planet, I absolutely have impostor syndrome. No surprise there. And really everything is tied into that in some way. There is the perfectionism — or better said, the driving need to find excuses to fail rather than chance success. It’s the belief that nothing I will ever write will be perfect, so why try. Instead, I should accept that it won’t be perfect, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t be perfect to at least one reader.
Oh, getting into the revisions, I fear reading what I wrote. I get embarrassed when I see an achingly obvious mistake, even though I am the only one who sees it. I hate seeing both good writing and bad writing because I use both to reinforce that self-doubt. (Artists — and many others — will all know exactly how this is possible.)
That’s not all, but let’s move into my normal mode of handling these: avoidance. Rather than sludge through the work, I will allow myself to get distracted. It’s the mid-afternoon nap. It’s Instagram. It’s checking the weather. It’s looking at things I won’t buy. It’s playing on my Switch or other video games. It’s lazing around with no aim. Anything other than sitting down and even just staring blankly at the words in front of me or the keys. The second I get a little stressed, I will figure out something to pull me away from the task.
I can, and have, been able to keep myself focused in the work despite the stress — as I am doing here — but that is not always a guarantee. What will need to happen is my acknowledging to myself that I am getting distracted, that I am trying to find an excuse to get away from the work, and then to confront those emotions. Nothing will change in a day, but maybe, just maybe, given enough time, I can move forward and get to a point that I don’t let my being an impostor stop me from what I love doing: writing.