This is the third in a several-part post.
The stories we tell ourselves matter.
Do you think about the stories you tell yourself?
Thomas King, in his book The Truth About Stories, says, “The truth about stories is that that’s all we are.” Furthermore, he says, “We live stories that either give our lives meaning or negate it with meaninglessness. If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change our lives” (p. 153).
What are the stories you tell yourself?
I know from my PhD work that circumstances – slow to change cultural traditions, critical attitudes, limited spheres of publishing opportunity, even subject matter constraints – make writing success more difficult for women than it is for men, because each of these circumstances has a story attached to it.
We need to explore the stories we live by.
Instead of asking, Why Can’t I Write? The two questions we need to be asking ourselves are:
What stories am I telling myself that prevent me from writing?
What stories are other people telling me that prevent me from writing?
What’s your passion?
I want to write more. Let me streamline that a bit: I want to write more, send more of my work to an editor and/or agent, get published more, and make more money. You probably want something similar (that’s why you’re reading this, right?)
Now, I could ask myself, why aren’t I? However, a more interesting question that I’m pondering is, What pain am I willing to put up with in my life to work on my passion?
The pain is:
* the early mornings or late nights spend writing,
* the hours spent writing when I *should* be doing something else,
* the tough conversations about why I don’t have time to do ____ because I’m writing,
* the days that are so full that i have no mental energy left over at the end of the day to write,
* the fear that I’ll never make a “living wage” as a writer.
But you can’t win if you don’t play.
So, ask yourself, what pain are you willing to put up with in order to write?
When it comes to help with finding time to write, a review of the articles and blog posts that talk about it is actually somewhat disturbing. A google search of the key words “time to write” results in over 1 billion hits!, and an examination of these articles and blog posts reveals a certain distain for people who have trouble finding time to write. The attitude of many authors is illustrated in this comment from one I’m here-to-set-you-straight-writer: “If you have trouble with it, then tough. That’s right I said it—tough! Too many writers use lack of time as an excuse not to write”.
Telling someone to take the time to write, doesn’t teach them how to get there.
One reason I study the conditions that affect women’s writing is that the sheer complexity of it guarantees that many diverse factors will come into play. All of which are important, and none of which should be dismissed as simply individual differences. I believe the problem is a complicated weave of our social-cultural conditioning, the state of the publishing industry, and our own personal beliefs about our writer-selves.
This is why my blog is a combination of an examination of my own writing process, methodology to make writing a habit that is hard to quit, and academic information on how social and cultural mores affect women writers.
How has being a woman and a writer impacted you? Let me know in the comments below.
Hi, I’m Nancy Lou Semotiuk. I’m a writer, a mom, a professor, and a PhD candidate in humanities and culture at Union Institute and University. Mostly, I am a woman who struggles to write. There is always something that prevents me from writing. It has not been my experience that if I turn off Twitter and do not clean the house that I’ll have a rich writing life.
And I know that I’m not alone.
I’ve fought to understand why I, and women like me, have such a hard time doing the very thing they love most: writing. My blog will address the special needs and dilemmas of women who have trouble finding the time and encouragement to write.
Rather than being told that making time to write is a choice they are not making, women need encouragement and pragmatic tools to help them achieve success.
That’s what this blog is about. Join me.