However, I really want to put in a word for everyone who came to my Everything and Anything But Writing panel; I thought it would literally be me, aerialiste, and a person or two deciding if my blackmail material was sufficiently motivating, but as it turns out, there weren't enough chairs in the (granted, small) room, and also, only one other competing panel so whee! And no, I didn't blackmail any of them, or at least, I don't think so.
Actually happened: I kind of lingered at the door thinking the last panel was still going because many people were in there looking engaged and ready for anything. Finally, enough people were looking at me in puzzlement holding my backpack and drink at the door for me to realize maybe I should...do something.
Not verbatim but close to it:
Me: ...are you here for the writing thing?
Them: Uh, yeah.
Me: You're kidding.
(Last line may be verbatim. Which I bet was super reassuring coming from their presumed moderator; thank you for staying, btw.)
My goal was (hopefully) a panel where people would talk openly about the problems they had around writing; for the most part, the 'writing' part when doing it was just fine. That definitely happened and was honesty amazing. I haven't had this much useful information come out of an hour even during most of my creative writing classes combined.
(My professor is to blame for every time you think "uh, seperis, that's very...purple'. People, he told me to do that like a lot. Who was I to deny a poet all the imagery ever?)
We covered not just the concept of writer's block, but how it can have multiple sources and therefore multiple strategies for dealing with it. Which is why it's so hard to fight; not only is your writing process personal and the reasons you can't personal, how to deal is intensely idiosyncratic, and I was thrilled how many people offered up new strategies I hadn't considered and more specifically how they worked for them and why. Some in fact I may adapt to my own times of troubles.
There was also one of the first of these I heard; when something is stopping you that--when pressed--you can only define as 'fear', type unspecific. Thing is, I'd both never heard of it before and also immediately knew what that meant, because that's happened to me but I didn't know what to call it. One of the things the panel members did was share ways locate it, try to narrow down areas or scope, search not exactly for root cause--which is the entire problem--but give it a geographic location to work from and what it was affecting and why, use the symptoms to give some kind of shape to the source. It was honestly a little amazing to listen to, because taking a methodical symptom-location approach is logical but every time it happened to me I just kind of frozen going 'uh'.
Another was how to deal with not great feedback, flames, and those that could be either/or but are depressing, and how to deal with that, in both the blow to confidence, what to do to deal with it, and mental scripts to call up, which is important. Mental scripts are a way to fight that inner voice that only exists to fuck with you; sure, it's loud, but make sure it has competition with those positive inner scripts. That shitty inner voice is also on its own script; that's why it says the same damn thing every time and loudness and repetition do not make it true; give it some competition because it can't really fight that. Mental scripts are also a form of self-condition and programming; brains are assholes but also can easily be manipulated and there's no reason not to take advantage of that.
And it's also important as fuck to stop dead now the idea there's something called 'thin-skinned' and you're supposed to blow off negativity and something's wrong with you if you can't. If you can, that's great! But there's nothing wrong with you if feedback you receive hurts you; that's actually really fucking normal and nothing to be ashamed of. You are human'ing like a pro, friend.
I have no idea if this helps, but it's pretty much true in general (specifics may vary): how the worst feedback made you feel is equal and opposite to how the best did, and that high you get is incredible. The price for feeling that deeply goes both ways, but the bad--and I say with experience it can be breathtakingly shitty--exists because you can also feel that damn good. And fuck yeah, it's worth it; there is no way to logically believe that when you feel shitty, I know, so that's when you practice the art of having faith. You can't prove it, no, but you make a conscious decision to believe it anyway. That shit takes work, but with practice, it gets easier, until that faith is proved absolutely right, because you'll get some amazing feedback that blows your mind and it will feel amazing.
(We also covered the rather effective 'spite' approach which may not be like super nice but works surprisingly well at times.)
We also talked about problems in deleting text/killing your darlings (don't do that; make a second doc and paste it there! Nothing is deleted and it's still there in case you were wrong or may use it somewhere else!), getting out of a non-writing streak (write your id/write to the grocery store/write something else) and how to not edit yourself during the writing process (that's for the 'editing' process, very different thing), changing fonts/putting it in a different format/have text to audio to have it read to you when you can't edit yourself but know something's wrong.
That text to audio is a fucking amazing idea. Especially as it's portable, so you can also use change of location to get your brain out of rut and pay attention. I know phones have the capability and iPhone does it best, but anyone have suggestions on easy ways/methods/programs to get text to audio other than reading your own fic into a recording device, feel free to tell me and I'll add an ETA to this post with the links and suggestions.
Anyway, everyone was great on that panel, it was incredibly informative and I hope others felt the same way because I definitely walked out with some new working tools to try and ways to work. Anyone who was at that panel, feel free to leave a comment (and your strategies if you want!) since you did some great work in that room.
ETA: greywash has some info on text to speech for Macs here, along with some other things.
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