6 Types of Writer Pain and How To Resolve Them (Part 2) by Beth Barany
This pain can come in many different forms. Last week I shared 6 types of writers pain (part 1) I typically see in my work as a writer’s coach and teacher.
There are many things I say to help writers experiencing one of those types of pain to resolve the pain, to start to feel better.
The Creative Process: The First Part
One of the things I say to help them relax is to recognize that what they’re going through is not unusual and actually — really — a part of the creative process.
I say this not as a platitude, but as a real understanding that stems from my lived experience as a writer, with over 30 years of experience writing fiction and nonfiction and helping writers for almost that long.
I also say:
You are not alone. Most of us writers experience the pain of trying to write something and it not coming out at all like we’d hoped.
Many of us feel the crippling pain that freezes us from even putting down one word for fear it won’t be right or perfect or as good as the writers we admire.
Here’s some words that might help ease some of the pain.
After all, knowing others share your misery does wonders to alleviate the pain, but doesn’t erase it entirely.
The Creative Process: The Second Part
The second part — about this pain being a part of the creative process — is a lot harder for writers to swallow. Or for any creative, for that matter.
We seem to have an ideal in this culture (I don’t think it’s universal, but I haven’t researched that yet), that things should come easily to us.
I mean, when the pros do it, it looks so easy, right? So it should be easy for me to do.
It only looks easy to them because they’re more practiced and also because we’re only seeing the polished finished product.
It’s painful when you hear your favorite novelist only writes three drafts of her novel. You want to tear your hair out because you do at least twenty. Therefore there must be something wrong with you.
No, there isn’t.
What you don’t know is that this writer wrote dozens of novels before she ever got published. What you may not realize is that this writer has been at it for 30-plus years.
6 types of writer pain…
…To the writers that experience writers pain because they want their work to be perfect,
…or can’t stop comparing themselves to other writers,
…or are afraid to truly listen to the voices in their head that want to come out into wild and crazy stories,
…or are afraid that someone will come stomp on them if they share their truth,
…or have a head full of way too much so it’s hard to hear themselves,
…or are so impatient for success that they judge their creation before it’s created
— what I want to say to these 6 types of writer pain is—
We are made of stars…
Hello to the mess of being human, or being creative, which means imperfect and messy and chaotic and making no sense.
Hello to you, a creative, who is perfectly human, perfectly a mess, perfectly imperfect.
We are all made of stars.
We are all children of the divine.
We are all a hot mess.
Hallelujah. We are alive to make such messes as first drafts of novels.
It’s a gift that we can open our hearts onto the page and say our truths, even if only a few people see it.
It’s a gift that we can write words on a page, no matter that they are in the wrong order or misspelled or not quite the best word for the job.
We are messy, us human creatures.
And we are still children of the stars, of the divine, of the ineffable that created us.
How to Resolve the 6 Types of Writer Pain
To the Open Perfectionists, I ask, “Can you love even the imperfect parts of you?”
To the Closet Perfectionists, I ask, “Can you love yourself even while you are in the student and apprentice stage?”
To those fearful of becoming crazy, I encourage you to listen to and find your own voice in the mix. That is your North Star and will always guide you home.
To those fearful of reproach, find the love within to speak your truth and find those that love you for who you are and let them be your first audience, for as long as you need it.
For those overwhelmed and confused, I encourage you to shut down all external noise and also find your true voice and ask yourself, “What do I want here?” And keep the external noise on off or low. You are your own best authority. Even if you need more information, filter it through your own BS meter.
To those who want it all, I have a pill for you. JK. (Just kidding.)That hungry part of you who wants for knowledge and rules and best practices will always be there. Your voracious desire will guide you onto many paths. Enjoy it. And, you can also set aside the time and space to produce your stories. Let your knowledge come through your stories to impact the other voracious learners out there. Bring your lived experience, all of it, into your stories. The more you are in your body, the more you can feel the Now, the more you can bring it into your stories.
Courage and Time
These 6 types of writers pain and my rumination on bring healing and resolution to them stem from my own experience struggling with writing — it took me 10 years to have the courage to start my first novel. And it took my 5 years after that just to complete my first bumbling exercise of a first novel. I learned to be gentle with myself and the messy process of writing fiction.
Your Turn to Create Resolution
I haven’t created the definitive list. Nor what I share may necessarily describe accurately what you’re experiencing.
If that’s the case, I encourage you to take a moment and explore your pain and its resolution.
Complete this prompt, in whatever way you want:
I can’t write because…
Writing is hard because…
I’m curious to hear what you uncover. Post in the comments.
No need to stop there. You can also write your own resolution.
Answer these questions:
What happens when you bring love and compassion, as you would to a dear friend, to that part of you that is in pain about your writing?
What would you say to a best friend who confided in you their writing pain?
Write that down and say that to yourself.
If the “dear friend” image doesn’t work, use something else, like “dear grandmother,” or a beloved parent, or trusted lover.
The good news is we can bring compassion to our own pain around not writing or not writing well (or even to our pain around marketing our fiction — but that’s another post!)
And there is no bad news. Unless you count the bad news of feeling pain.
Pain is part of living.
Pain (likened to Steven Pressfield’s resistance) is always going to be a part of the creative process.
It won’t be going away.
Take away pain and you take away life.
But we don’t have to be our pain. We have pain. We experience pain. And we can acknowledge it, say Hello to it, and breathe. Allow the next moment to arrive, even if it’s painful. That moment may have a stellar idea in it. You can capture that moment into words on the page.
What if you recognized your writer’s pain earlier in the process, so you started writing that much sooner?
What would your writing life be like if you didn’t run from your writer pain, but welcomed it like a companion on the journey?
What if your writer pain became so familiar most days you didn’t even realize it was there and just went past it to the page?
How else might you use your writer pain in your writing?
What other best case scenario could you come up with?
I’d love to hear!
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ABOUT BETH BARANY
Beth Barany is creativity coach for writers, a teacher, workshop facilitator, and speaker, who helps fiction writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers.
Owner of the Barany School of Fiction, an online training hub, Beth takes great interest in how humans learn, create, and grow, and includes all her students’ life experiences, including the ancestors, into the moment.
Want to plan your novel, but not sure how? Check out the comprehensive Plan Your Novel course here.
She also writes magical tales of romance and adventure to empower women and girls to jump into life with both feet and be the heroes in their own lives.
Support her mission to empower women and girls with her fiction on Patreon here.
The Writer’s Fun Zone blog is a service of Beth Barany’s coaching and consulting business, helping genre fiction writers write, market, and publish their books through live and home study courses, a 12-month group program, and private consultations.
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