The Fear of Writing

35001782_482544518838457_792731957887762432_nDo I fear writing? Does it intimidate me? Yes, I think sometimes it does. I think most writers find there is some trepidation that comes with creating something from nothing, adding something new into our digital world that never existed before. This doesn’t mean I don’t like to write (I Love it!). Nor is it an excuse not to write – There really are no good excuses not to write. That sentence looks so wrong, and yet, it’s perfectly capable of conveying meaning: no excuses.

No, the fear in writing, of writing, is the anxiety of writing something that is not good enough. Some people can write for the minimum effect: a passing grade, to make the boss happy, to meet some time-sensitive goal. In high school, I had a biology teacher that graded homework not on the merit of content, but on the volume of pages submitted. More pages meant better grade. I once added a crossword puzzle to mine. I got an A.

But my goal is to write well and create a work that lives, defines and inspires the reader. One well-written page (or paragraph) trumps 10 poorly written pages. The fear is in ensuring I can consistently deliver that quality page. I want to write, and I live by the 3-page-a-day mantra to ensure I am always writing. That does not necessarily lead to quality material. And that’s okay, as is the fear that keeps me anxious about it. Because as I drive myself to always be writing – every day -and as I hold myself to an expectation of quality, I know that, eventually, the work I’m churning out will be revisited and polished.

The fear of not writing well cannot hold you back from writing in the first place. My very first attempt at a novel, When Earth Cries, is the perfect example of what happens when the fear of quality paralyzes your progress. I spent three, maybe four years re-writing the first two chapters to get it “completely” right. Ultimately I rewrote the entire opening of the book with a throw-away scene of doomed heroes. But before then I wrote and rewrote the same two chapters maybe two or three dozen times because they never quite worked. The end result of that was a book that went nowhere but had three very good beginnings. And that’s where the fear of writing kills you. That probably seems obvious to many of you, and I hope it is. Most editors I’ve ever talked with all say the same thing: write without editing. Get the thought onto paper (or the screen). But just write, and don’t stop, don’t spell check or correct. Turn off Word Auto-correct so you don’t even see the errors, because they will build up, and the more red underlines you see, the more that fear of failure will force you to stop and begin editing.

So, maybe the secret to writing is to just close your eyes and write. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, so as long as when you are done, whatever was in your head exist in some state on paper. I’m…still working on that. I have a ways to go. Partly because I’m anal retentive. Partly because I like my work to be good from the beginning (an ego battle you do not need to win). But, I’m getting better. And my writing is getting stronger as a result. Hopefully, just maybe, it’s something that will help you, too.

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The Light Switch

I’ve made a few posts so far on the joys of being a parent and added a bit of humor with everything we’re going through trying to help my son to become potty trained. Some days it felt like trench warfare, with so much energy and resources expended with only yards or inches gained, if that. And the casualties were mounting: our patience, furniture, clothes, and general mental state.

We were up against a ticking clock with daycare needing to promote him to the next class – but only if he could show he was potty trained (No diapers in the Three’s room). Everyone said you can’t force it upon him, that kids have to make the decision to want to go to the potty – to want to be a big boy. Our best friends and his godparents even described it as something like a light switching flipping on. They just go from diapers to wanting to be potty trained.

They were not kidding. About three weeks ago my son decided he wanted to use the potty, at home and at daycare. Suddenly, big boy underpants and using the potty were important to him. BAM: Light Switch. Since then it has been a completely new experience. No diapers during the day, and now not even at nap time. Almost no accidents in his clothes and he tells us when he needs to go, pulls his own clothes off and does his business. And THAT is some kind of amazing. Now my boy is a little man going potty like a big boy, and we just got to cancel our diaper service with Amazon. And that…was just freaking awesome.

From Paw Patrol to Potty Patrol

This weekend has marked a milestone in the ultimate struggle between parents and our I-refuse-to-potty-train toddler, Nathan. That’s right, for the first time, evah, our son has not only voluntarily sat on his training potty, but has successfully used it  FOUR times! Yeah, FOUR. That number is infinitely better than 1, 2, or even 3…because it’s fracking FOUR.

Now for those that do not have kids and do not understand this particular struggle, my heart goes out to you in your eventual eternal struggle. Suffice it to say, potty training boys is almost never easy. Most would rather wallow in their own pee and…let’s just stick with pee, then actually learn to use a potty or make use of training diapers (which, by the way, don’t bother with as they are useless; they are still diaper, much less fun to get on and off, and don’t really help transition from diaper to underpants except to say that whatever mess they make in them will be the exact same mess they make in their underpants). In fact, why the Hell do we even have those things as a product?

Back out fo that rabbit hole…the point fo this entry was to celebrate with all of you that my son now knows how to pee in his “Big Boy Potty”.

PP_Potty

Paw Patrol “Big Boy Potty”

And this has been made possible by almost 2 full seasons of Paw Patrol in one sitting. While the show is not terrible, it gets very old after the third episode. And we went through 15 of them before we finally got the glorious sound of his potty playing music – yep, music! See, the training potty plays music whenever liquid touches the little sensors inside.  This is awesome because it lets us know he’s gone potty – but a little less good if the toddler decides to stand up and celebrate, or just act surprised…while peeing. Yeah, that’s fun.

Buy some Resolve pet Stain remover, a few rolls of paper towels, and a crapload of patience. And as your scrubnbing, the floor for the third or fourth time, just keep telling yourself…Progress. It’s progress. Soon. very soon, no more diapers.” Then, go hit the secret stash of stress sugar – we always have double-stuffed Oreos and reward yourself for having patience and not losing your shit.

We’re one step closer, and that’s good because, after 3 1/2 years of diapers, we’re ready…

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The Toddler Experience

My wife and I have an amazing little ball of energy, easily the brightest, most incredible joy in our lives. Most days. Absolutely, positively….most days.

My Son, Nate, is 3 and a half now, and thankfully, he’s got his mother’s brains! But then, dear god, he’s got his mother’s brains! For those of you that don’t know my wife — she’s also amazing. And Smart. Very smart. You can see that same light n my son’s eyes, right before he does something terrible. I was going to say “evil”, but really, when they are this age, evil is loosely defined.

Mostly, toddlers are just having fun without the benefit (or constraint) of a moral compass – something I sure as hell would like to be able to do from time to time. But every once in a while Nate (my 3-year-old) will do something that defies all previous experience. And I’ve been told by parents that I trust that while my experience seems awkward and unique, it’s not. By any means.

My Son goes through weekly phases: wearing socks on his hands (Sockey-hands!), stealing his shoes and putting them back on after we go to bed (stinky feet!), turning every mundane and non-hostile object into a “gun” (I shoot mommy and daddy!), watching me pee much too intently, then demanding to be the one that flushes the toilet (“I wanna do it!).

NathanOnFloorRecently he’s decided that his crib is no place for him to sleep. He transitioned to sneaking into our bed in the middle of the night while we were asleep — at first anyway. Soon that turned into just heading for our bed form his own. But of course, when we’re not in it, he doesn’t want to be alone in it.

Now he wants to sleep on the floor, next to me, as I am writing this. Of course, he needs for the light to be on in the bedroom entrance where he sleeps, and off over my head where I’m typing. He’s also — NOT sleeping – while laying in the floor. It’s actually becoming more of an extended play-with-daddy thing where he giggles, smiles, and generally does all the cute things 3-year-olds do that keeps us from being “too” angry with them.

Along with this is the “Guess What, Daddy?” game in which, yep, I guess what, and he hits me in the face with a random article of clothing. I never actually know where it comes to form, the boy could be standing there stark naked, but as soon as he says “Guess what, Daddy?” he’s armed with a Paw Patrol cotton PJ bottom, and taking aim!

And I want to be mad with him, or concerned with the “Shoot Mommy and Daddy” game, or the general “why the Hell don’t you sleep?” phenomenon, but then I’d also have to be very concerned about “Why don’t you eat, you know, food?” and “When exactly are you gonna stop wearing diapers?” — Yeah, 3 1/2 and still in diapers. Actually, that’s a bigger problem because he can’t move up in daycare until he’s potty trained. But hey, that’s another weekend post about not using the potty and 12 changes of clothes because…you know…he’s a boy. 

Right now (I’ve moved downstairs to write) I hear the patter of Godzilla feet on my ceiling as the Lack-O-Sleep monster moves form roo to room trying to find us and hanging out on the stairs until we come up and yell at him.  And that’s just today, for the most part. Tomorrow he may go back to wearing underwear on his head or randomly decided he hates fruit snacks.

…long way of saying “and we’re ready to try for kid number 2…”

On the Beginnings of Writing…

Image form joepeacock.com

Image from joepeacock.com

I’ve often heard some people say that writing is hard. I understand this, though I think the declaration requires a bit of clarification: writing well is hard. Writing to a purpose of creating something new and wonderful and magical, something that only previously existed inside your mind and the wispy ether of your dreams is the challenge.

 

All of us, each person that reads this or puts pen to paper or fingers to keyboards, has the capacity to write. The struggle for some will be what to write. For others, the hurdle will be how to write what I mean, so that others “get” it. Still, others will have far more mundane challenges such as free time or clarity of thought for a long enough period to accomplish writing.

Right, with me so far? Writing, in of itself, is a task, a mechanical process of moving ideas from non-material to material in some kind of medium. Monkeys could do it. Many of them better than me I imagine.

The trick, the turning point of writing is simple: you must write. All the time. Every day. Even if only a little — you must commit thoughts to words so they stare back at you in your chosen medium.

But why?

Because it is only in this manner that you can actually become a writer. Great story ideas, great concepts, and beginnings, the perfect setup, plot, hero or villain….all of those are great pieces of your writing. But none of them, alone, are writing. Writing is a commitment between you and your mind to dedicate time and energy to creating written content. No one, no matter the name, popularity, platform or profile, can successfully become a writer without writing. And thus, no matter where you are today, no matter how good, bad, or in between you think your writing is…none of that matters until you actually write something.