Shelley Widhalm

The Writer’s Time Out

In 52 Writing Topics, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on June 17, 2012 at 11:00 am

Writing is an ego thing.

After 15 years of writing professionally as a journalist and writing poems and stories since my childhood, I’ve been off and on the rollercoaster of confidence.

I fell off during a basic composition class my freshman year of college. I got an F on the first essay and, because I was a “good writer,” thought the teacher was mistaken. I learned that I didn’t write clearly and concisely and had too many meandering sentences.

With every red mark, comment and edit I received, I incrementally gained a sense of the art and craft of writing.

Initially, I thought the way writers put sentences together seemed unachievable, particularly when the words juxtaposed unlike things into beautiful expression. I didn’t understand how writers identified, assembled and molded words to describe the narrative world.

As I wrote and read about writing, something clicked, and I started using metaphors, similes and other literary devices. I began to write comfortably in my own voice and developed a style.  

But as soon as I learned or realized something else about writing, I became uncomfortable. I had to pause and think about what I was doing, becoming a little stuck processing the information. I reflected on format, pacing, voice and the other elements of writing, wanting to improve and adapt.

This hyperawareness sometimes results in writer’s block, causing the confidence shakes.

I’ve self-diagnosed them in my current project, a novel called “Dropping Colors.” The cause may be the fact I’m near the halfway point.

In my last two or three writing sessions, I looked at the screen (not blank with the story already started) and wondered where my characters had gone. I couldn’t hear their voices, or feel them as real people.

I find all kinds of excuses and other things to do, such as writing this blog way ahead of schedule.

It’s like losing your keys or forgetting your purse somewhere. Where are those things? Are they as I left them? Life isn’t right until the essential components of identity and getting from point A and B are safely returned.

Thus, when my writer’s block ends I’m sure I’ll get back on the rollercoaster of confidence. I won’t be so self-conscious about every word, or bump, when I let experiencing and being and living be my ride.

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  1. Y’know for someone w/writer’s block you express yrself quite beautifully.

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