i have found that writing is a lot like early sobriety. things take longer than we think they will. shit is hard, then it gets easier, then we don’t know what we’re doing, then we figure some things out, and then we make daily, small progress.
I’ve posted some of the writing that i did while i was writing the sober book, some of the backstory and ‘prewrite’ stuff that ‘helped’ me figure out the sober writing thing. Because the parallels with sobriety are huge and many.
July 29, 2015
who are all these voices in my head. it’s like there are a cast of characters. let me introduce them:
Wolfie: “you suck, you won’t finish, you won’t discover anything, you’ll abandon, his book will be better than yours, don’t even bother.” Wolfie likes to make you feel small.
Fiona Fearful: “you’ll find out things you don’t like, you’ll be too afraid to take action.” She’s too nervous to ride the elevator up.
Sally Sunshine: “it’s all about the positive thinking, the difference between where you are now and where you want to go is all about positive thinking.” She likes to visualize.”
Worker Nancy: She puts her head down and gets things done. She rides the bus to work early, ploughs through all the work, very hard working, efficient, no easily flustered. She says: “just work, anywhere, it all needs to be done eventually. so just start here.”
Slothful Sarah: “you can’t make me, i don’t want to use my talents.” She’s a teenager, defiant, over eats, sleeps 12 hrs, plays video games, avoids responsibilities until some external force comes in to say ‘do it now’. she has no plan. That is her plan. to be plan-less.
Adventurous Abby: “let’s go find something new, let’s try different. novel is good. let’s have an adventure. let’s go. let’s see what happens. Ride the ferris wheel. what’s the view from there?” she’s carrying a camera. she’s in search of new.
now given these 6 different voices in my head, when i look at my current non-writing situation (and this could be any situation where you want to take action, but aren’t), here’s what I hear my 6 voices saying about the following fact.
Fact: I’m not writing, and i want to be.
Wolfie: you’re going to fuck it up if you change anything about your schedule. the business will fail. the book will be shit. you don’t have time to write anyway. don’t change anything or you’ll lose it all.
Fiona Fearful: there’s too much, you’ll never get caught up, there’s a lot to do, you’ll do a bad job and then wish you’d never tried. you will lose your anonymity and wish you’d kept things the same.
Sally Sunshine: look it’s just a matter of sleep + food + exercise + accountability. Your energy will level out and you’ll feel better. when you feel better, it’s easy to do all these things on the to-do list with no angst.
Worker Nancy: let’s get right to it, if you work hard all week you can blast through most of this, a couple of 12 hr days and then boom a bunch is done.
Slothful Sarah: what are you, high? the key is more downtime, more off time. Cancel something, give up all responsibilities, do less, make your life like vacation all the time. go to portugal. This work thing is so un-fun.
Adventurous Abby: this is such a cool process, can’t wait to see what happens next. maybe write in a different coffee shop each day. maybe start 4 projects at once and see which one has wings. maybe it’s time to test a new recipe. what’s novel about today?
I am all of these people, all of the time. I shift from one to the other, sometimes mid-sentence. I feel most drawn to Sally + Nancy + Abby. The rest seem like things that drag me down, like they’re all wolfie just with different voices but the goal is the same: to turn away from this goal that you want. Wolfie says: just give up now.