The big event never happened. At the end of the day we were thanked for participating and winners were announced. It turned out that throughout the day, judges had been evaluating our work. I was devastated. I knew I had held back.
While I wouldn’t have known to call my attitude arrogant, I never forgot how I felt when my girlfriend won a prize and I was empty handed. I continued to write and in the last few years, it seems I am recalling this story readily when I’m being complacent and lazy.
What does this have to do with Confession Tuesday? As many of you know, I’m new to blogging, but I’m not new to online writing communities. It didn’t take long for me to identify active communities and to learn about popular writing prompts. My motivation was twofold: stimulate my creativity and meet peers who would offer supportive and useful feedback.
And therein lies the confession: I easily fell into a routine of writing the exercises I found the easiest to do. I became seduced by the attention traffic brought, and I began to think less of working seriously at the exercises in order to improve my work.
Luckily, I’m no longer nine and it didn’t take all day figuratively for me to realize what I was doing. After remembering this story, I then think of the many of the writers whom I admire and respect. Writers like Audre Lorde, Donald Hall and Walter Mosely talk about writing daily; how every effort isn’t going to be stellar but the actual practice is necessary; that there is something to be gained by being focused and disciplined. Going through the motions won’t get my work where I want it to be.
Luckily, I experienced prompt burnout fairly quickly, too. I’m a lifelong manic about things I get into; I was trying to write almost four to five prompts a week. I’ve thought about my dysfunctional behavior for weeks and knew it was time to fess up and move on. I’ve slowed down on the number of prompts I write, choosing those I’m genuinely interested in and then committing to reworking pieces. Some won’t ever become anything, but I’ve been writing long enough to know that some of these drafts will contain choice lines that could lead to new works that are good.
I tell my nine years plus more than three decade self, don't repeat that day. The sessions matter.