I’ll be honest, writing is a scary thing and it’s not always fun. Well, unless you’re a horror junky in which case this is probably the career for you. There are many words I could use to describe this way of life – because that’s what writing is, a way of life – but the best word I can come up with is WILD.
We writers have a beast inside us. It frantically claws its way out, gnashing its teeth, howling, growling, desperate for freedom. And once unleashed, the beast runs, full-throttle, towards the light of day and never looks back. Worst part is, once it’s out, it’s OUT! You can’t capture and tame it. It yields to no one, not even you.
Scary stuff right there, eh?
The beast is the writer’s inner writer. Yeah, I said that. But a writer who WANTS to write and a writer who DOES write are very different people. One hasn’t started. The other is unstoppable. One has complete control. The other is chaos with a pen. One still has their beast in a cage all locked up tight while the other just said to themselves, “Oh shit.”
Once you put pen to paper and free your beast, you have another frightening aspect to contend with: Addiction. Writing becomes necessary to live. To breathe. To function. Hemingway once said, “I have to write to be happy whether I get paid for it or not. But it is a hell of a disease to be born with. I like to do it. Which is even worse. That makes it from a disease into a vice. Then I want to do it better than anybody has ever done it which makes it into an obsession. An obsession is terrible. Hope you haven’t gotten any. That’s the only one I’ve got left.”
Dude, I get that. I’m write there with you. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)
Creativity is an addictive drug. It’s a self-created hallucinogen that pushes us down a rabbit hole with zero chance of sobering or escaping. I am down there now, and have been for three years. Seeing what’s in my mind is all I want to see. That beautiful world I’ve created is the only place I want to live in. I now spend the better part of my day with people no one but me can see.
For those like me, who have no way out of their heads, I say, “Welcome to the jungle.”
This place is wild and scary AF. I, for one, had no idea my head was so big or that my ideas would feel so… real. And so, I, too, feed off the drug of creativity. I cannot survive without it now. I am a writer, from the marrow in my bones to the depths of my soul. I. Am. A. Writer. Don’t try to save me – I don’t want to be saved.
I want to be consumed.
My beast is too wild and feral now – best just let it run free as it was always meant to.
What’s scary about this way of life are alllllll the others things that come with it. While you’re battling with demons in Underworld wastelands, in the middle of a toe-curling kiss with the love of your life, or finding your next clue in the murder case you’re trying to solve, there are the landmines of self-doubt, lack of courage, potential failures, typos, opinions, and just the general feeling of loneliness that try to trip you up every step of the way.
But you know what, my fellow writer? There’s a solution for these nagging little bastards that can slow you down.
Feed your beast.
Feed it your self-doubt. It will eat it – it’ll gobble that sticky, dark substance and swallow it whole only to smack its chops and grin afterwards.
Feed it those bad reviews. They’re good with BBQ sauce.
Feed it those opinions you “accidentally” stumble upon while surfing Facebook and blog sites. No one will know you googled that shit yourself just to torment your inner curiosity cat. FEED IT TO YOUR BEAST.
That animal is always hungry.
And when you’re done feeding it all the negative, reward it. Run with it. The beast wants your company and will show you how to grow claws and tougher skin. It will teach you how to be strong and find your bravery. It will teach you how to be free. Be WILD.
And it will push you to write with zero regrets.
Next, feed your beast the good reviews, the lovely messages, the swag you bought, the Amazon ratings, the sales chart, and the book club invitations. That’s reward beyond measure right there. It’s got more power than all the negative shit put together. Feed your beast those goodies until it’s stuffed and can’t take another bite.
Nothing can stop you now. Write, plot, post, blog, submit, publish. Do it all. Do all the things a writer should.
And while you’re at it, find your PRIDE. No, not your vanity side, but your TRIBE. Your CLAN. All writers have that beast in them. And guess what? They like playmates.
It only takes one word. One word written down. It’s as simple as that. ONE. WORD. Once you’ve written it and your beast is set loose and you’ve run wild with that creature… find it a friendly face. Find it (and you) a pride to run with. Or a murder, if your beast flies.
Writing is different for all of us, and yet is it also the same. It’s treacherous, hurtful, insightful, inspiring, filled with both bashing and uplifting commentary. You’re not alone – no matter how you feel, how closed off you are. You. Are. Not. Alone.
I read somewhere that “it takes years to become an overnight success.”
Thank God. If fame and fortune hit me this early in my writing career, how on earth would my beast and I ever have time to reach the next level?
That’s not to say I don’t want to be as successful as possible, but right now, I’m still growing, learning, and fumbling all over the damn place. I suggest you all do the same. Take your time getting there. Enjoy the run. If you stumble, getcha ass back up. If you can’t get up, then crawl. Just keep moving forward or you’re never going to get to where you’re meant to be.
Search inside yourself, fellow writer, and unlock that beast’s cage. Run your hands down its spiny back. Feel the thickness of its skin. Note the sharpness of its teeth. The intelligence in its eyes.
It’s hungry for your words, so feed your beast.
That creature wasn’t made to be trapped. It was made for you. It’s been raised on all the good, bad, and ugly the world has shoved at you in your life. It’s the imagination of you inner child that’s been suppressed for far too long. It’s the animal within. The freedom to write. The instincts of a writer.
Writing is wild, my friends. Beware. Be ready.