The Pressures of Writing

29 May, 2016

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I’ve always loved writing. Words are like an extension of my own body and I turn to them through times good and bad. When I was around eight, I used to write stories based on the Sylvanian Families I used to collect and I loved nothing more than when I could spend lessons writing about imaginary worlds and flex my writing muscles. Now, I turn to poetry when I need to express myself and characters occupy my head, waiting to be brought to life on the page through magic metaphors and daring imagery.

Having the dream of making a living out of my writing, though, has come at a price. When I started my blog four years ago, I never thought I’d be able to get to know actual authors, or become a part of the YA community. Suddenly I got to know the ins and outs of writing a novel and become friends with people who wrote every day. And then the pressure set in.

It’s hard not to compare yourself to other people when they seem to be writing ALL THE WORDS or getting great book deals. I have a habit of crumpling at 2,000 words and giving up, and it’s hard to push through this and to not give up. I know that I’ll never reach my dream of publishing a book if I don’t finish that book, but sometimes that feeling can become so overwhelming that you feel as if you have to give up whilst you’re ahead.

It is, however, also possible to see a way out. I have to remind myself that I write for me and no one else. Writing poetry has helped immensely with this because I have no urges to share the poems that I write, no feeling that I need to share the stuff I’ve written to prove myself in some way. I know that some of my poetry is utter rubbish, but I also feel satisfied that at some point it helped me and allowed me to express myself. Poetry is my light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s hard not to succumb to the pressures of writing, but it’s also possible not to. I’m starting to believe in my writing and believe in myself. I can do this, and so can you.

Do you feel pressured to write a certain way or pressured to write amazingly? How do you try to overcome this? Share your advice!

8 Comments

  • Ana Esteves

    29 May, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    I really like to write too! The problem is that I feel so pressured to be great that, when I get to 1000 words, I start erasing everything I wrote and I end up with nothing. I live in a country where national authors don’t get many book deals and the main portion of books on the shelves are translated. I want to get better and to grow my writing skills but I’m pressured and afraid.
    Ana Esteves recently posted…Review: Shades of Doon (Doon #3) by Carey Corp & Lorie LangdonMy Profile

  • Laura

    29 May, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    I feel exactly the same! One of my life’s ambitions is to write a book, but my documents folder is just littered with half written stories because as soon as I get part way through anything I start feeling under pressure and become convinced that it’s absolutely awful. I have recently started another book, and so far I’ve made it to 11,000 words, so I’m hoping I’ll stick with this one and that I’m not just wasting my time on it.
    Good luck with your own writing!
    Laura recently posted…My Top 5 Fairytale RetellingsMy Profile

  • Josie

    29 May, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    I used to really struggle to write more than a certain amount, but I think that’s how the writing bug develops. One day I had an idea that I just knew, deep down to my ankles, that it was a full on book. And, okay, it took me over 18 months (many a year ago) and it’s never been published, but it was a full novel, and that felt great. You just have to keep writing and writing and writing. Writing only improves. Also, writing an outline helps LOADS and it’s something I’m learning to be more strict about (instead of one word Post its stuck in a timeline). I’ve found James Patterson’s Masterclass immensely helpful. Good luck and keep persevering.

  • Stephanie Hartley

    29 May, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    I graduated last year from my lit degree and I’ve felt SO pressured to turn to some kind of serious writing. I’ve dabbled in freelance writing and love my blog, but it’s so hard to consider only writing for a living; it’s so hard to make money with it.

    Steph – http://www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

  • Natalie @ Flowers in my Books

    30 May, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    I’m going to University this year to study Creative Writing and I am constantly worried that my writing won’t live up to the standards that have been set, but I have to keep reminding myself that part of the reason I’m going is so that I can learn how to become a better writer and to continue exploring my love for words.
    Natalie @ Flowers in my Books recently posted…What I Thought Was True by Huntley FitzpatrickMy Profile

  • Kira

    31 May, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    The lovely things about writing books (and being in a state of pre-publishing, even if it seems like a perpetual one) is that you’re afforded the opportunity to write stuff, hate that stuff, start over with new stuff, and just play with words without the additional pressure of someone else’s expectation weighing on you. When you have a book on a shelf someplace — that’s the hurdle you contend with then. Not now. Now you get to make stuff.

    If you badly want to hit the target of a 90,000 word novel, decide how many evenings you’ve got to work on it a week, and divide that number up so you have a much more manageable wordcount to work with. Then every day you’re committed, just show up. Show up and type a line. Then type two. Then keep going until you hit that daily goal. It doesn’t matter if it’s crap, you can rework it later. The most important thing is to get the words down.

    First draft are ugly babies that (hopefully) grow into something lovely with some effort. No one — literally — gets it right on the first try. That’s why we’ve got revision and rewrites and workshops and courses and webinars and books and SO MANY websites dedicated to fledgling writers who need the occasional pep talk.

    Ultimatey, you’re creating the pressure for yourself right now. That’s your voice inside your head telling you you’re not good enough. (I have my own variation on how to tell that voice to shut up, but there are quite a few swear words involved which I won’t post here. For me, it’s effective. I wrote my first novel last year, and I’m in revision mode now.)

    So, the easy solution: just stop. Put a cookie in that voice’s mouth. And get back to work.

  • Zoe Wallace

    1 June, 2016 at 12:22 am

    This is the first of your posts that I’ve read, and I can tell you right now that we connect on a spiritual level, like we just unlocked level freaking 200 and we’re both two orbs of energy flying on a pegasus through the spirit world. I’m not even joking, I understood everything you said 100% and I’m almost the exact same way. I’ve loved writing ever since I first picked up a pen and drew scraggly little lines I called letters. Writing has allowed me to find solace whenever I feel like I’m going to break, or just when I need a little timeout from the fast-paced world we live in. Plus, I’ve never been good with my words (speaking wise), so whenever I needed to get something out in a way that others would truly grasp what I was trying to say, I would write. I would write, it didn’t matter what I was writing, whether it be poems, stories, songs, random quotes from characters no one’s ever met, I would simply write. I would spill everything that was me onto that blank page, and let it manifest into its own creation. However, like you said before, it can be hard to be an aspiring writer because you feel so pressured to squeeze out words that used to flow out of you like water running downhill. You get so frustrated because your pen used to move without you even knowing of it, but now the pens run out of ink and you don’t know what to do as you sit there in envy, watching your peers with freaking 50 million pens dishing out 10,000 words a day. Like you, I used to get really jealous of my friends’ work and success, but now I know better. Writing to me, isn’t something that should ever be compared with that of others. When I’m sitting down at my desk or on my bed or anywhere really, scribbling away, I never think of whether this will become a bestseller or whether my dog will think it’s the best thing since this morning’s bacon. As my pen hits the paper, the only thing that exists at that moment is me and the stories that lie in my heart. Works of literature, and I mean any type of literature, capture the blood and spirit of their creator, which I think is really beautiful and why I love writing so much. And you can’t always force out the words you want to come, sometimes you just have to wait and let them come find you instead. Also, I think that all of this can apply to other forms as art as well, just thought I’d throw that in there.

    Haha, sorry this comment ended up getting pretty long and deep. If you actually read all the way to the end then congratulations and I apologize, I don’t have a cookie for you! However, reading your post made me really inspired and I can’t wait to read your work someday!

    P.S. I apologize for any grammatical mistakes, I was just really inspired and wanted to get the words down before I forgot them lol.

  • My Writing Recipe – Queen of Contemporary

    15 June, 2016 at 9:05 am

    […] you read my previous writing post, you’ll know that I’ve been struggling to pass 2,000 words on any of the projects […]

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