My unattainable satisfaction of a proper working structure

I’ve always been a big fan of the slow and steady. Being in control of every aspect of my life is my constant, ever-persistent goal. I’m just one of those people who are genuinely frightened of spontaneity, and all forms of surprises are met with reluctance, fear and excessive sweating.

I suppose it’s no surprise that I’m naturally gifted at staying home and work by myself. I’ve always been a firm believer in that, wherever we have a weakness, we are equally strong in something else. Humans are creatures of nature, and nature will always strive for balance.

(There is, however, an ugly truth for people like me. Having 100% control in all aspects of your life is close to impossible. This means that no matter how hard I try – how diligent I am in my work – in the end there will always be more left to do. It’s just one of those harsh realities that I’ve come to accept. Reluctantly, but still.)

This should give you some idea of how I go about my daily life. Simply put, I like planning.

I’ve recently come to the realisation that planning and creative work don’t go that well together. It’s like oil and milk. There is a general rule of thumb that says all writers (or rather, anyone who wants to take their writing seriously) should value routine over inspiration. Contrary to popular belief, inspiration doesn’t write books. Only routine does – and here’s where things get tricky. For some reason, I’m constantly fighting this.

Yes, I know. I’m contradicting myself.

There’s something about the creative work that makes me want to challenge everything that I stand for. I’m finding it difficult to plan my creativity, which makes me frustrated. It’s like trying to trap something abstract and delicate – it slips through my fingers like water. Don’t get me wrong, this is not some excuse for not working. I’m always working, whether it be on my manuscript, character or worldbuilding, my Youtube channel, blog/social media or concept art. Always.

It’s the lack of structure that irks me. I’ve tried so many different approaches to this and I can’t seem to find one that works in the long run. Having a good structure for the creative work as well as a suitable divide between that and marketing is my main concern. I can’t seem to get it right, and it triggers my inner (and outer) control freak. I end up running in circles for a while before going back to square one.

Well, this was a cheerful rant. How satisfying it would be if the ending paragraph involved some sort of magical solution. Not today, I’m afraid. All I can say for sure is; if anyone who’s reading this feels the same way about their work and life, you’re not alone! The only thing we can do is to keep trying and take it one day at a time, slow and steady and all that.

How a corny teen movie can change your outlook on life

So there I was, browsing through Netflix and waiting for my newest video to load into the program, and I came across some of those typically “corny” movies that families watch around Christmas. They are full of clichées and over-the-top characters. Most of them are about teens, bonus points if they’re troubled, and the plot is all about them fighting to reach their dreams. It’s usually something active, like figure skating, gymnastics or dancing. Now, I’m a big tragedy enthusiast, but my poor little heart has a real soft spot for these movies.

I kid you not. I watched a movie called Ice Princess and cried real, adult tears. (All this girl ever wanted was to be a figure skater! Why couldn’t her mum just be supportive?!)

I realise that I’m not these movies’ typical audience, they’re generally intended for teens who’re still trying to figure out what they want from life. To be fair, I figured that out less than 10 months ago and I will be 30 next year. Come to think of it, maybe more adults should watch movies like this (I do think you need to watch alone though, as I think it would be far too easy to make fun of it if you have company).

In a way it was like a time warp and a wish fulfilment – all in one. The familiar “oh to be young again” nostalgia mixed with a nauseating remembrance of what it was like actually being a teenager. No matter how nostalgic we might feel about our teen years, in the end we’re usually pretty relieved they’re in the past.

So what did I really gain from this experience? Apart from getting really sentimental, I also found it surprisingly inspirational. No matter how ridiculous these movies can be at times, the moral of the story is usually to follow your dreams and dare to fight for them. I see so many adults that dream of doing something different with their lives, but they never actually do it. They are comfortable with their normal jobs even if it isn’t exactly what they wanted. They’re afraid to risk that comfort and go into unfamiliar territory, no matter how much they dream of it.

I was that person once, but when given an opportunity to change things – I took it. The situation I’m in now is somewhat similar. I’m determined to become a published author, and I’m fully prepared to fight for this dream to become a reality. Sometimes, we need to evoke our inner teenager to awaken that obsession that makes us go for it. I guess these corny teen movies reminded me of this – that even if I feel low or unmotivated, the fight isn’t over as long as my goal is worth it.

The bravery and vulnerability of being a writer

Most writers that I talk to all seem to have one thing in common: we’re all incredibly self-conscious of anything that we create. We are our own worst critics, this is a hard truth indeed.

The reason behind this isn’t that we don’t enjoy our stories. We have, after all, crafted them carefully with the intent of them being good. We pour our hearts and souls into our work, and by doing so, it makes us all the more vulnerable. The mere thought of another person reading our work and finding it bad is the most terrifying thought.

Someone once said that it is only when facing our fears that we can truly be brave. I find that this resonates well with the idea of publishing a book. All authors, no matter their level of success, have gone through this act of bravery when publishing their books. And I dare say that all of them, again – no matter their level of success – must have found it utterly terrifying.

We have this intense hope within us that our books will speak to their readers. That we will be able to connect with other people through our stories. This is why we must open ourselves up to vulnerability, because if we don’t, then how are we supposed to achieve this? It’s a great risk for sure. There is no guarantee that success will follow just because you write with your heart and soul.

I haven’t published any books yet, but in my case, making the decision to self-publish was still quite scary. I know which road to take. It’s up to me now to continue down this road, to eventually take that leap of bravery – but without the affirmation of a traditional publisher in my corner. It’s amazing how you can both look forward to something as well as dread it. I suppose only time will tell what happens at the end of it.