If you’ve been following my writing journey, you’ll know it took me 15 years to finish my very first novel in a fantasy trilogy. I started it when I was 18 years old. While the first draft was easy and seemed to take no time at all, it was the rewriting and editing process that I got stuck on.
That’s where the fears came in. The doubts. The anxiety that my novel would NEVER be finished, much less published.
That’s when the giving up began. I felt too paralyzed by fear, doubt, and anxiety to work on my book. I felt like I was missing something. I started feeling uninspired. It felt like creativity had left me and my novel altogether.
This is what I defined as writer’s block.
The giving up sometimes lasted months. Other times, it lasted years. But I always came back to my novel, eventually.
Because that’s what artists do. We always return to our passions.
I would get bursts of desire to work on my novel and return to it with excitement. I’d re-read what I’d done so far (in attempt to remind myself what I’d already written.) I’d edit as I went, and find that it needed A LOT of work. But my edits felt good! My book was getting better!
I would make some progress…
And then the anxiety would kick back in.
Just when I began to get somewhere with my book, I’d meet a challenge. I’d forget something about my plot. I’d find a plot hole. I’d realize I wasn’t exactly sure how my book was going to end. I’d reach a scene that didn’t flow well. I’d read an amazing book by a famous author and realize my book and writing style was NOTHING like it.
My inner critic would start speaking up. “Shit. This sucks. Look how much work it still needs. Look how much better it gets every time I re-read and edit it. I’m just not a good enough writer yet. I probably never will be! Why bother. I need an MFA in order to be a good writer. Who am I kidding? I can’t do this.”
Then I’d give up. Again.
Now, I will admit, a HUGE piece of why this process was so hard for me was my method of execution. The way I was re-reading, writing, rewriting, and editing INSTEAD of simply doing one draft from beginning to end was NOT the best method for progress. And all those negative thoughts were simply doubts and fears that could have been conquered with a mindset shift.
But this post is neither about proper writing process NOR conquering fear. BOTH of those topics are for another day.
THIS post is about releasing past regrets in order to move forward in the present.
You see, as months turned to years, and years turned into over a decade, I became filled with greater and greater shame about the length of my writing journey.
I was embarrassed to tell people how long I’d been working on ONE book.
I felt increasingly worse about myself and my talents as a writer.
I saw writer’s block as something negative about ME. I thought it meant I was a slow writer. I thought it meant I wasn’t good at writing. I thought it meant my world building sucked.
I could have chosen to see things differently.
I could have chosen to see that I wasn’t necessarily a slow writer. I’d just spent A LOT more time on distraction, procrastination, and avoidance than I did on the actual writing.
Instead of feeling shame about this, I could have seen it as a lesson. I could have chosen to make better choices.
I could have chosen to see that I was improving my writing skills with every passing year.
I could have chosen to see that I had a good eye for finding plot holes.
Once I got serious about finishing my novel, I knew I had to get rid of the shame over my past mistakes once and for all.
I had to be grateful for writers block.
Because everything is a gift. Even the things that seem bad or shameful. When you see the gift in the things that haunt you, they lose their power over you.
These are the gifts I’ve gained from 15 years of writer’s block:
*time to learn more about writing.
*time to mature and become a better writer.
*time to absorb craft and technique from the books I read.
*time to decide what I wanted out of a writing career.
*time for the indie publishing scene to become not only more legitimate, but also lucrative.
*time for life experience that helped me understand how to manage time and priorities better.
*opportunities for immense growth in other areas of my life that I was paying more attention to.
*lessons for how I want to be in the future.
*the opportunity to KNOW without a doubt that writing IS my priority, and that I’d NEVER set it aside again.
*lessons and experience that help me coach others in similar situations.
Now that I’ve chosen to see the 15 years of intermittent writer’s block as a GIFT, I can let go of the shame. It all happened for a reason. It served me well. I now have a story to tell about my experience. I can help others with what I’ve learned as a direct result. I’m able to share the magic of mindset and how quickly it transformed my life and writing.
I’m not ashamed of the mistakes of my past. In fact, I don’t believe in mistakes. I only believe in opportunities to do better, to grow, to learn.
Is this an excuse to slack off? To procrastinate? To set things aside that are important?
No. YOU have control over your present moment, over the choices you are making now. But if perceived mistakes of your past keep you from moving forward, you need to find the gifts, forgive yourself, and then let it go.
What in your past is holding you back?
What do you blame yourself or others for?
What story do you tell yourself about why you can’t do something you truly want to do?
What has your negative experience taught you?
How has it served you?
Who do you need to forgive?
Cut the ties to the past that are holding you back. Allow it to serve you and light a fire under your ass in order to propel you forward. Your old life story does NOT define you. You are capable of ANYTHING you desire.
Now go for it.
And if you need a little help with reframing the negative into positive, be sure to download a FREE copy of my mini ebook, 102 Affirmations for Writers, Artists, and Other Creatives.
Love, light, and all the magic,
Author. Coach. Unicorn.
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