Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Levels of Doom

- a post by Jeanna Mason Stay

I have been stuck stuck stuck on several WIPs for . . . longer than I care to admit. I’ve been avoiding them in every way possible—Facebook and games on my phone, email and book-reading, and of course the always available mountains of laundry, dishes, and household projects. Pretty much ALL THE THINGS. I’ve been rather aimless in my writing, not to mention extremely dissatisfied.

My mom was an avid crocheter.* When she died, she left me boxes and boxes of yarn. One of her favorite things to crochet was beautiful afghans; she made and gave away dozens. But she also loved crocheting bookmarks. Friends, family, and random strangers have all received bookmarks. And after that, probably more random strangers too.**

When I inherited all her yarn, I started out making an afghan for me and my husband. It was to be for our wedding, which occurred about four months after she died. . . . I finally finished the afghan for our second anniversary.

Since then, I mostly make stuffed animals.

Which leads me (finally) to the title of this post: levels of doom. Some projects are just easier and faster to finish than others. Afghans take longer; stuffed animals are shorter. Afghans are a higher level of Doom.*** Both, however, are generally less emotionally and mentally draining than writing.**** Writing projects also have levels of Doom, though: little Doom like blog posts, or higher levels of Doom, like novels.

Lots of Doom was involved here, trust me.
Sometimes we don’t have the desire or tolerance for the higher levels of Doom. I love writing novels; some part of me feels like it’s what I’m supposed to do with my writing. But there’s another part of me that derives immense satisfaction from the thrill of actually finishing something—and not taking two or three years to do it (hence the stuffed animals). And it doesn’t have to just be one or the other, it can be a little of both, with something else entirely on the side.

So if your writing goals are getting you down (as they were me), I highly recommend asking yourself some questions:

~ Where are those goals coming from? (Are they external or internal? What is influencing them?)

~ Do they inherently matter to you or are they pressured from external sources? (I found that I had this weird inflated notion that the only kind of thing that mattered was for me to write books. This wasn’t true; it was just something I’d always assumed.)
See? Less Doom!

~ Is this the best time to pursue them? (Are there other things that are more important right now? To everything there is a season, and all that jazz.)

~ Will taking a break and focusing on different goals give you some renewed joy and energy? (Lately I’ve found that I’m very excited about teaching a year-long writing class for teens at my homeschool co-op, and I’ve remembered lately how much I love editing, and I’m especially glad to be reading good books and hanging out with my kiddos.)

I think it can be scary to admit that maybe what you were pursuing doesn’t matter as much as you thought, but it can be freeing too. At least, I hope so. I’ll let you know how it goes.

* Apparently this is not a word, but what exactly does one call someone who crochets?
** If memory serves, we even gave them away at her funeral as well, per her request.
*** No, not real doom; I don’t expect the world to end or anything if I don’t finish my afghan on time (although my mom is probably sitting up there on the clouds in heaven and shaking her crochet hook at me). I just mean the emotional and physical energy and the amount of time devoted to something.
**** Unless you’re inventing your own pattern because you’re insane and you just really don’t like the alligator patterns you find online, but that’s a digression.

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