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View Full Version : Any tricks for putting on the mental blinders while writing?


Bubastes
12-30-2007, 08:31 AM
The earlier thread about "what would your mother think?" was quite interesting to me because I feel like I'm not only mentally battling my parents, but also my SO. I've mentioned in other posts that I'm deeply in the closet as a writer (in fact, no one IRL knows about the last two stories I sold) and plan to be for life because past experience has shown me that my loved ones tend to read far too much into what I write about (I don't appreciate armchair psychoanalysis). I've even had to explain, at length and with some debate, that the "I" in a first-person story is NOT ME, something that you'd think anyone would understand instinctively.

Lately, my writing has come to a full halt because the idea I'm working on deals with a sensitive topic. Even though I use a pen name now and do not mention my writing to anyone, I'm having massive problems keeping the mental blinders on long enough to even get a coherent outline together. I keep worrying about what they will think even though they will never know I wrote it!

So, any tips from the wise writers out there to push past this? This is extremely frustrating!

geardrops
12-30-2007, 09:03 AM
Is your problem that you are worried what people who have no idea what you write, let alone the fact that you do write, will think of what you're penning? Or that your idea itself is causing you trouble?

I feel like, logically, it would be the latter. I just want to get that out there, see if that strikes a chord.

Storyteller5
12-30-2007, 09:07 AM
For me, doing a NoWriMo really helped. It doesn't have to be the official one in November, but could be any target you set in a set month. I've done the official in Nov and did my own in Feb. In order to hit my daily writing target for word count, I had to write through the self doubt and self criticism and know I could go back to fix later. I didn't reread at all, but just kept writing. I didn't have the time for that inner critic stuff and it really helped. I had friends keep tabs on me so I had to check in with my numbers and couldn't slack on those daily targets.

Good luck with it! You'll get it figured out! :)

Bubastes
12-30-2007, 09:15 AM
Is your problem that you are worried what people who have no idea what you write, let alone the fact that you do write, will think of what you're penning? Or that your idea itself is causing you trouble?

I feel like, logically, it would be the latter. I just want to get that out there, see if that strikes a chord.

Believe it or not, it's both. It makes no logical sense, I know.

ETA: It's like I can already hear them criticizing my idea before I even begin writing. I've had stories die premature deaths in the past from stray insensitive comments from them, so now it's like I'm flinching.

BlackViolet13
12-30-2007, 09:57 AM
MeowGirl, it took me over two years to come out of the closet, and that happened just over a year ago. The first person I told was my current CP, and it took a LOT of prodding on her part to get it out of me. I'd already written two full-length novels by then, and usually worked on them late at night after the family had gone to bed. I'm also a full-time student, so saying that I needed to study until 2am was a pretty good cover. I didn't come out to my husband until last June when my education took a big turn and I told him I wanted to take on a creative writing minor. He was actually very cool with it and is very understanding when I need to get out of the house for an afternoon of writing. Love him!

I absolutely get what you're saying here, and I would say that I fall into both categories Dempsey described, as well. I told my mom recently that I'm writing urban fantasy, and when I described what that meant, there was a long silence on the other end before she wished me the best of luck :ROFL: I can easily foresee other family, acquaintances, people I go to church with, etc. having the same reaction. Or worse. So I'm probably not going to tell them, and honestly that's all right with me. Of course it would be wonderful to have people IRL to celebrate with, but I don't want to let them into "that part of my mind" when I really think about it. Or at least as far as they know ;)

Thank God for pseudonyms!

Moon Daughter
12-30-2007, 07:12 PM
Maybe you should come out of the closet. Maybe only to certain family members that you feel comfortable with. The best way to deal with a problem is to go at the source.

Danger Jane
12-30-2007, 09:35 PM
Pick pseudonym you like.

And...write for yourself. Obviously you do, if you write at all with family like you do.



How much does it matter if they think your sex-crazed MC, or your psychopathic first-person narrator, or whatever, is you?

Next time they try to go all armchair shrink on you, cut them off: "Actually, it's funny you should say that, because I based a lot of this character off of you."

Bubastes
12-30-2007, 10:07 PM
Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!

Coming out of the closet in the past was what landed me in this spot in the first place, unfortunately. I agree with Danger Jane -- I have to keep writing for myself (and fight the other voices in my head telling me how selfish that is. Arrrrgh!).

Gotta keep pushing forward, no matter what.

geardrops
12-30-2007, 11:04 PM
It's hard to do things when those you love are opposed to it.

But yes, Danger Jane had it in one: write for yourself.

Best of luck :)

WriterInChains
12-31-2007, 02:19 AM
Maybe this is far out in left field, but you might want to try going somewhere very crowded to write. The anonymity of a crowd has gotten me past more than one difficult passage. Even here in Portland, most people will pretend they don't notice anyone who's sitting there writing. That can be very liberating.

Beyond that, I just want to echo "write for yourself." You don't need your family to validate what you're doing for it to have value. That's something I gave up on years ago. If my mom, the voracious reader, can't understand that the first person "I" isn't me it's not my problem unless I choose to let it be -- and I choose not to.

ETA: Doing something because it's what you want to do isn't necessarily selfish, hon. Some people see it as a sign of maturity, depending on the activity. :)

badducky
12-31-2007, 02:57 AM
It was really hard to stay in the closet when that first book sold.

Still, not the hardest thing.

I've found - like pro athletes - habitual ritualness works.

Something like:
Wake up. Turn on the computer. Go for a walk around the block. Make a cup of tea. Turn on white noise-ish classical music. Write.

It's like tricking your brain into being ready to go.

My routine lately has involved biking to a not-terrifically-busy starbucks and sitting in a dark corner surrounded by evangelical christians. When everyone around you is actively discussing how much they despise you and everything you stand for, you tend not to want to chat with them.

Nyna
12-31-2007, 04:52 AM
What works for me is cultivating a quiet air of superiority. For example:

You think: My brother will think this scene means I'm a lesbian!
Your quiet air of superiority thinks: My brother has a very shallow view of sexuality and an even shallower view of literature. He is a square-minded sex-crazed practically illiterate boor. Also, he hasn't finished a book in years, and this scene is pretty near the end.

Or:

You think: My mother is a highly literate, well-educated woman with fixed views on religion. I'd better not write this book that doesn't really agree with her often expressed point of view.
Your quiet air of superiority thinks: My mother is also the sort of debater who cuts her opponents ruthlessly down at the ankles, and if I ever want her to know how I feel, I'd probably do better to write it down, so she can't argue with me. Anyway, I'm right.

Or:

You think: My boyfriend is going to think I've done drugs! He's going to think I'm lying about my past!
Your quiet air of superiority thinks: He'll probably be jealous, the boring ass.

Or:

You think: I'm mostly related to lawyers. They think the only career worth pursuing is being a lawyer.
Your quiet air of superiority thinks: Shows what they know.

lfraser
12-31-2007, 07:05 AM
[quote=Nyna;1921582] You think: My brother will think this scene means I'm a lesbian!
You think: My mother is a highly literate, well-educated woman with fixed views on religion. I'd better not write this book that doesn't really agree with her often expressed point of view.
You think: My boyfriend is going to think I've done drugs! He's going to think I'm lying about my past!
You think: I'm mostly related to lawyers. They think the only career worth pursuing is being a lawyer.

You Think: Yer all going into the next book....

Christian Genzel
12-31-2007, 02:40 PM
I realize that I've been very lucky in having been supported by a lot of people in the past, even in the beginning when my writing probably was less than stellar, and sometimes provocatively disturbing ...

Anyway, I think what WriterInChains wrote may help - maybe the place where you write is important. When we write, we often feel very vulnerable, and sometimes I'm afraid someone will peek over my shoulder and read something that's just a crazy idea I wrote down for myself. So, maybe solitude helps, maybe a crowded place helps, maybe it helps to create a spot for yourself, someplace where you feel no one could ever intrude and judge what you do (whether it's an actual place or a mental place).

Bubastes
12-31-2007, 09:10 PM
OK, I've finally nailed the blindingly obvious problem in my mind.

:deep breath:

I'm ashamed of wanting to write. When I get right down to it, the problem isn't with other people (although they don't help matters). The problem is with ME.

Yeah, nuts, I know.

Shadow_Ferret
12-31-2007, 09:34 PM
I've even had to explain, at length and with some debate, that the "I" in a first-person story is NOT ME, something that you'd think anyone would understand instinctively.

Actually, the "I" in my first-person story IS me. Quite often the me I'd like to be. Or a me I'd never be. Or a me... well, you get the idea.

And what you need to do is not care so much what they think of your writing as what you think of your writing. I know that's hard to do. It takes a lot of effort to ignore other people's influences, but if you don't, you'll continue to have this problem.

I guess the first thing you have to do is ask yourself exactly how important is being a writer to you. You also have to figure out why you're ashamed of being one.

To me being a writer is something to be proud of, someone many people in society look up to. My problem is I don't feel worthy of being a writer because I consider them so special. But your problem, well, you need to do some deep soul searching and all I can say is, good luck. I hope you find yourself.

ishtar'sgate
01-01-2008, 12:39 AM
OK, I've finally nailed the blindingly obvious problem in my mind.

:deep breath:

I'm ashamed of wanting to write. When I get right down to it, the problem isn't with other people (although they don't help matters). The problem is with ME.

Yeah, nuts, I know.
Not so nuts. I wanted to go into journalism after highschool but my parents considered writing to be nothing but a waste of valuable time. It didn't get any better when I began my novel. I was the family joke. I wasted my free time in a room by myself with pencils and paper. (I like to compose in longhand) Is it finished yet? No? Rolled eyes. Then, have you sold it yet? Why not? Let me read it and I can tell you what's wrong with it? Maybe you should quit and do something else. I became ashamed of what I did, too, and wouldn't talk about it unless they pried it out of me. I still don't like talking about it or telling anyone I write. I'm not ashamed anymore but it's become a private thing, probably because of all the negative feedback I got early on. Keep at it. Don't let anyone else decide how you are supposed to feel about what you do. The way I look at it, I don't ridicule them for chasing around a little ball all day trying to sink it in 18 little holes on a golf course so how I use my free time is my business. Okay, I'm done.:D
Linnea

Bubastes
01-01-2008, 01:18 AM
:Hug2: to Linnea. Yep, you know exactly what I'm getting at. I'll have to keep your golf comment in mind the next time I start getting down on myself. :D

slcboston
01-01-2008, 01:27 AM
I find that keeping the straps lightly oiled and supple, plus a generous amount of hair on your head for cushioning, helps with the leather straps and keeps them from... from...

:Ssh:

OH. You said "mental" blinders....

Never mind.:gone: