On Struggling To Write, High Expectations, And Accepting The Self (At The Core, Not As Related To Output)

. 3 min read

As those of you close to me know, lately I've been struggling in my relationship with my personal writing (mostly, my fiction writing). It's been incredibly strange. I've never experienced this before.

Until recently, I always enjoyed my own style. But, these days, I'll go back to read a passage and feel... embarrassed, really. Embarassed at the quality.

Here's the weird thing though. I use this software called Natural Readers, which reads my work back to me, and, bizarrely, I still enjoy the sound of my words spoken, but read...

I can't explain it. I cringe. Feel sick. Want to pull my hair out a bit.

For a few weeks there, I thought, Maybe I'm just not meant to be a fiction writer.

To be honest, the thought is still looping through my mind. Which makes me so sad, but not at the expense of being honest with myself. As Feynman says, "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool."

So, I've been working through it. I've been talking to myself like, Okay, Mackenzie, that's okay. If you're not meant to write novels, you will find what you are meant to do. Don't worry. It wouldn't be the end of the world.

And these words are true. I do believe them. But still, how sad.

I should be clear: it's not that my perceived lack of talent would have me quit. I know that this can always be improved. It's more so the rollercoaster of emotions that are affiliated with artwork that scares me a bit. Because, you know, other work just isn't this intense.

And I've been thinking about Chase Jarvis. His story is he was a full-time artist and he became miserable, but then he eventually did other things, like started Creative Live, which ultimately made him much happier. He still creates, but he has these other, group-and-service-oriented pieces in his life now.

I've been thinking about him because mental health is so important, and nothing at all is worth sacrificing it. Not even writing.

All of that said, my standing conclusion is not to quit. That would be throwing in the towel too soon. What it has been is to take a break though. And then, when I return to fiction (probably Saturday, as it's already been ~3 weeks or so), to return in a much less vigorous manner.

See, before, I was spending 8-10 hours a day writing. My plan is to reduce that to a window of max 3 hours, possibly 2. And, what's more, I will ensure I meditate both before and after, and perhaps even in-between, as a midway breath break.

The point in all this is to reduce the pressure I've been inadvertently placing on myself, to see if that helps. I have a very strong feeling it will. Because this is a pattern for me. I have extraordinarily high expectations for myself (that I'm usually unaware of), and when I don't meet them, it feels like I'm being cut in the deepest cavern of my heart. You know? Like soul-crushing rips and tears.

I recognize that the above is something to look deeper at. I think the pain stems from the fact that I've not accepted myself yet just as a human being, but rather I've tied my worth to my creative/work output. And that is a whole other realm of self-work that frankly I have not really begun at all. But I ought to prioritize.

Alright, my loves, got to get a lil workout in, as that is the other thing for the mind that is oh so nourishing: moving the body.

And then I will be getting ready, as I'll be shooting with my love Kieran Darcy today for a loungewear brand, which I'm not sure if I can share details of... maybe. Shall see.

Bye angels xx

M