Enemies of Progress

Don’t worry, this won’t be a political rant, (although I could easily ramble on about a political culture that is pushing backward rather than forward).

No, this is a post about the silent enemies inside ourselves, that prevent us from taking even the tiniest steps in any direction. Thus leaving us frozen in place, staring at nothing, drooling a little.

These are the enemies I currently face.  But, I want to confront them by bringing them out into the light. We all have our own versions of these inside ourselves. There is no cure-all, like throwing a golden ring into the Mountain of Doom, which will destroy these enemies by destroying their power source. These enemies are subtle and sneaky. They work through quiet manipulation and silent whispers that slowly cause chaos and bring you to a screeching halt.

As I woke up this morning, I realized that I am under attack, but I am counterattacking the only way I know how . . . through honest words.

Enemy #1: The Green-Eyed Monster

Yesterday Sarah had her second play date of the week. I listened to the girlish giggles and squeals as the two adventures fearlessly conquered the mountain in the backyard.  I know I wrote just the other day about Sarah’s fears, that I find frustrating, but in other ways she is fearless, especially when it comes to using her body or being silly.

I found myself envying  Sarah, for the carefree friendship and willingness to get scratched up in the name of adventure. Could I have joined them? Sure, except that in an unprecedented sneak attack my back twinged yesterday morning as I tried to get into my cozy chair.

Yes, my back rebelled about  getting into a chair AND I discovered that I am jealous of my daughter.

A feeling which closely links to . . .

Enemy #2: Loneliness

We all know writing can be a lonely business. That is part of the craft, in a way, but I discovered in my feelings of envy for my daughter that loneliness can also be an impassable barrier. Let me try to explain. This week has been a struggle for me as a Mom. Sarah was home for spring break, but Nathan did not have spring break (nor did I technically, I have to teach today). Sarah and I have clashed in every way possible, despite huge efforts on both sides.  Hence the decision to bring in play dates, a distraction of fun for her and a break from the tension for both of us.

But I can’t deny that her joy in her friends made me feel even lonelier.

Add to that the fact that Nathan didn’t just work his regular schedule this week, but also had to work nights as it was tech week for a production. I am used to that, it is part of the life in the theatre, but it didn’t help my loneliness and frustration.

To combat the loneliness yesterday, I tried to invite my characters in. I wanted to write about them. I wanted to have conversation with them. I wanted to become their friend.

But they wouldn’t come out to play. “Deal with this!” they each said, and hid away from my overwhelming emotional turmoil.

I found myself trying too hard, thinking too much, and staring hopelessly at nothing. Which of course leads to . . .

Enemy #3: The Inner Critic or The Over-thinking Brain

We all know this one. It’s that little critic inside ourselves that says everything we do is awful. My inner critic has teamed up with my Over-thinking brain. When I think too much, I never get anything done. I start doubting. I start second-guessing. Words don’t flow, because I start trying to be creative rather than just being creative. I manipulate words in search of the perfect turn-of-phrase, or a new way of staring on old emotion. [I even just struggled with that, trying to be all fancy with the use of the word delectable–which got me nowhere, as you can see]

IC and OTB are the perfect team to completely shut me down. I run away, afraid to try, and hide behind other people’s writing. I know, reading makes you a better writer, but not when IC and OTB have me under their control. Like puppet masters, they point out the perfection in other words.

“See, this person knows how to create a character without lots of exposition” says OTB.

“This plot is so much clearer and more interesting than yours,” pipes in IC.

The cacophony in my brain forces me to surrender, and I end up watching tv or playing computer games before crawling into bed early to read myself to sleep.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Today I am saying to these enemies, “BRING IT ON!!” I know they are there, they cannot sneak up on me anymore. I realize they will not simply disappear, but I will fight their power over me with everything I’ve got.

This is WAR!

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33 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. thebestdigger
    Apr 20, 2012 @ 09:03:42

    My inner critic is active as well. I am now thoroughly acquainted with rejection, filled with self doubt and wondering why I continue to write what no one wants to read. Doeosn’t matter what I submit….my best or my worst, testing those waters and coming up empty. Contest or submission for publishing, it doesn’t matter, and by now i’m assking aloud, what’s the problem? Reading winners, I can attest to the fact that my own work is often above theirs, but that is criteria i have come to see matters not one whit. By now I am quite able to view my own material with a jaundiced eye, slash and burn and surrender fab lines for the sake of the whole, and still am coming up dry. Mentors and teachers keep telling me I’m almost there, whatever that means. Amost where? For the first time in three years of daily writing I am roundly discouraged and self doubt is a poor writing companion. A writer must want to. I seriously don’t want to anymore. So you are not alone with these demons, Lisa. They assail us all.

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Apr 20, 2012 @ 15:30:16

      I wish I could say “you are close” and explain what that means, but I can’t because I don’t know what it means myself. But, I don’t think either of us should give up. We just have to write for ourselves and to tell the story that wants to come out, and then someday those stories will indeed find homes.

      Reply

  2. Kathryn McCullough
    Apr 20, 2012 @ 09:16:55

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate your willingness to own these emotions. This is the way to overcome them. I think part of battling is taking ownership. I expereince every one of the enemies you outline above. I am with you, my friend! I love your courage.
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    Reply

  3. CMSmith
    Apr 20, 2012 @ 10:28:54

    Recognizing your enemy is more than half the battle. Thanks for identifying and describing what many of us struggle with from time to time.

    Watching the closeness we felt with our children transfer to their peers can be a sad and painful thing. From the moment they are born we have to start letting go, another thing about the design of human life that sometimes makes me question the wisdom of the design, or at least the compassion of it. That, and how we leave this life. But let’s not even get started on that.

    Believe in yourself. I believe in you.

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Apr 20, 2012 @ 15:28:33

      Thanks Christine. Finding the balance between letting go, and hanging on is definitely part of the struggle. I love that she has friends, and would probably be less grumpy if I had a stronger group around me, but I at least have people I feel close too from the distances of the internet. 😉

      Reply

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  5. Mony Dojeiji
    Apr 20, 2012 @ 10:56:40

    There is a phrase that I have long commited to memory because I need to remind myself of it often: “What you resist persists.” My corollary: what you look at with love, what you embrace, loses its power over you. The more you fight those inner voices, the more energy you give them. They’re like children – they need your attention and so will act up to let you know that they’re there. And the more you ignore them (kids too!), the louder they get. It has been a journey in itself trying to embrace and love that critic within me (which I now see as nothing more than a child – wounded, neglected, rejected, etc. – who needs to be seen and loved, not rejected)… and the only antidote has truly been to LOVE them. There are so many ways, but I won’t fill this entry with them. I will only say: go hug your critic (perhaps manifesting itself in the form of your daughter?), tell her how much you love her exactly the way she is… all the while speaking to yourself as much as you are to her. Allow love to flow.

    I hope this is of some help, Lisa. ♥.

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Apr 20, 2012 @ 15:26:50

      Words of wisdom, Mony. And I do need to love all aspects of myself, even my inner critic. My daughter is very much like me, so our clashes are often clashes against self, so that too needs to be healed with love. Thanks for your kind input.


      Lisa

      Reply

  6. Sandy
    Apr 20, 2012 @ 11:15:56

    Great Post. Got me thinking that I should just move on each day, merrily writing what wants to jump out of my brain and not worry if anyone is reading or complains. It is my outlet for all those enemy’s you list.

    And if it makes you feel any better, there are those of us out here reading. Sometimes we just stay anonymous 🙂

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Apr 20, 2012 @ 15:25:39

      Thanks for stepping out of anonymity and commenting, Sandy. 😉 It is comforting to know people are reading, although my struggle right now has more to do with writing on a novel in progress than my blog.

      Reply

  7. Stuart Nager
    Apr 20, 2012 @ 11:55:14

    Acch, lassie…gird yer loins and do battle with the wee beasties!!
    You can do it. you’ve shown the strength. Call a friend, go out for lunch, ship all ungrateful children (grrrr) to Grandma, and relax. 🙂

    Reply

  8. Piglet in Portugal
    Apr 20, 2012 @ 12:47:23

    Like a little rabbit dazzled by the headlights of an oncoming car. It knows it should move, but it is powerless to do so…it’s hard. I know

    Reply

  9. Andra Watkins
    Apr 20, 2012 @ 17:25:40

    Jealousy and loneliness are such hard ones. This is brave writing, Lisa, but that’s not all I’m going to give you today.

    Writers often write about writing to keep from writing, if that makes sense. I almost never write about it, though I am tomorrow for a stark few lines. I don’t know whether this will help you or not, but it helps me, so I’ll share.

    The need to know WHY is the reason I write…….why isn’t that lovely person married?……..why didn’t this person get their just desserts?……….why is this person so hideously mean and nasty?……….why did I marry an abuser the first time?……….why is that crack in the sidewalk?………why can’t MTM part with architecture books?………..

    Constantly digging into the ‘why’ keeps me focused on the story. It sends the demons of self-doubt into the background, because they get in the way of the why I’m trying to uncover.

    Keep asking your characters why. They never fail to answer when we show up and ask.

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Apr 20, 2012 @ 17:35:26

      Thanks for that great advice, Andra. I will definitely ask some why questions tomorrow.

      Reply

      • Andra Watkins
        Apr 20, 2012 @ 17:50:58

        I hope I didn’t overstep. You didn’t ask, and I usually try to keep my mouth shut.

        Reply

        • Lisa Wields Words
          Apr 20, 2012 @ 20:14:13

          Of course not, Andra. I think part of my loneliness, and my struggle is that I don’t have a writing group or really a support system. I mean, I have the blog, but I’m trying to do something beyond the blog. I am actually really shy about sharing, and have a hard time asking for help to motivate me. I have always known that I need a mentor, but I am very cautious about who I trust. So, it is really refreshing to have someone give me some honest feedback and advice. Seriously, I appreciate it.

          Reply

  10. benzeknees
    Apr 21, 2012 @ 01:58:56

    I absolutely love the picture of the gauntlet in your post! This was so appealing to me.
    We’re all here to back you up Lisa or to bounce ideas off of if you wish.

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Apr 21, 2012 @ 08:15:47

      Thanks, Lynda. That means a lot.

      Reply

      • lindabkatz
        Apr 22, 2012 @ 16:07:26

        Thanks so much for your honesty – yea for the inner critic! It takes a lot of courage to bring up those nasty pesky little ‘nags’ of envy and loneliness – so many of us (okay, ME) experience it, but, again, it is the honesty to bring it up, address it, that is so great. Thanks for the reminder to address those demons and slay those suckers!

        Reply

  11. thepetalpusher
    Apr 22, 2012 @ 17:33:07

    Facing the enemy full-on is exactly what you need to do , Lisa. I think writing about these issues is healing.

    Reply

  12. 4amWriter
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 05:07:34

    Hi Lisa, Inner Critic sucks. It’s a big one for me. I also find that it comes out more often when I’m NOT writing, than when I am writing. Weird. But, I definitely am more vulnerable when I’m between projects or if I am soooo overwhelmed by life that I can’t sit down and actually play with my imagination.

    I can understand the loneliness bit, too. Although I prefer being alone (not just b/c I’m a writer, but that’s just how I am) there are times when I want to be with people and somehow that’s when it becomes impossible. I try to schedule my own brand of play dates (margaritas on the decks with friends) but something happens and my social time is shoved to the back burner. But I have to remind myself these were choices I made. I want to be a writer, and I chose to put it in the top 3 daily duties.

    Hurrah to you for confronting your enemy and understanding some of your struggles. All big parts of the battle.

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Apr 23, 2012 @ 09:01:03

      My inner critic often attacks at off times as well, and right now I feel like I am in a majorly off time. But just writing about it has helped.

      I too, enjoy alone time. I really don’t mind it when I can populate the quiet with my imagination or journeys into other people’s books. It’s only a struggle when I feel that there is nobody to reach out to during the moments when I don’t want to be alone. Or, like last week, when I was never really alone but that didn’t mean I had any time for me. Does that make any sense?

      Reply

  13. Victoria-writes
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 07:29:10

    I hear you Lisa! Well done for being honest with yourself and wanting to overcome your enemies – you can do it and we’re right here with you!

    Reply

  14. Tori Nelson
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 08:34:34

    #3 gets me all the time. I’m glad I read this post today. I needed to be a little fearless! You go, Miss Thang 🙂

    Reply

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