Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Writing lessons learned from my junior high self

Over the weekend I pulled out a box of stuff my mom saved for me from my junior high and high school days.  Among the boring report cards and candid photos were some short stories and writing exercises, mostly from my seventh grade year when I had an English teacher who encouraged my love of creative writing.  

Back then I wanted to be an author.  I'm not sure what made me decide that being an author for a living wasn't a viable option, but I didn't pick up writing again until I was pregnant with my 5th child, almost 20 years later!

As I read through the stories I chuckled at the ways I introduced my characters ("My name is Sharon and I have dirty brown hair and green eyes.  Now you know about me."), the vague titles that had nothing to do with the story ("Bacon, Tomato, People Sandwiches"), and the wild and crazy ideas I had (living in a house made out of a cloud and 'super than super glue').  

But when I was finished, I gained something I never expected: self-confidence. 

First:  sometimes I wonder if I really am creative or if I just steal everyone's ideas and jostle them around.  In reading the stories from my childhood, I am confident that I can come up with creative ideas on my own. 

Second:  it seems that lately I worry so much about how my writing sounds and am constantly editing myself to the point that I am frozen and cannot write.  Back then I didn't worry what anyone thought of my writing and--hey--I actually wrote pretty good stories.  

From now on, when I sit down to write my  novel, I am going to let the words come freely, try not to edit as I go and trust that my ideas are just as good as anyone else's. 

Do you ever feel that way?  What do you do when you get frozen by fear of writing?