The scarcity mindset of a writer — never enough stories

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Ah, a sense of relief should flood my body as I finish a novel or a story or a blog post. I have completed something. Me, a perpetual starter and never finisher of things. I finished a writing project. I should feel joy and pride.

But instead, my heart fills with a sort of panic, worried that I have reached my peak. I have done it. Written my last piece of writing. I have reached the ultimatum. This is it. I will never write again. I should just give up, because I am never going to get another idea ever again.

Panic ensues then, because the intense fear of never getting another idea, having the Muse leave me entirely and becoming another one of those would-be writers, enters my body and leaves me paralyzed. I can’t move, I can’t breathe, and I can’t think straight.

A Has-Been Writer

Horror story scenarios run through my mind (which should show me that my imagination is vivid and quite alive, but I ignore that). My imagination runs wild with me ending up on the street somehow, as a has-been writer. I torture myself with these stories for a little while, and then I say enough is enough.

I am going to write something, even if it’s entirely terrible. Just so I can prove to myself that I can write. So I creep up slowly to my laptop so as not to startle the Muse that I believe is sitting right there painting her nails or combing her hair, looking bored in a way that only highly creative people can.

I sit down, crack my knuckles in a very Hemingway manner (or what I imagine Hemingway did before he smashed the world with his writing), and I type one word.

Doesn’t really matter what the word is.

I just have to type something.

I put down my name. That’s a great start. If I can write down my name, I can write the world.

My Muse Looks Like With Incredulity

I peek up through my eyelids to my Muse who is sitting atop the fan now. She has this look of incredulity stamped on her face. She can’t believe she has to deal with such a loser on a daily basis.

She sighs with meaning, comes down to my shoulder, and says, “Shall we get on with it then? If you are done playing around and crying about the sky falling? Shall we do some real writing now?”

I had my fun. I panicked. I made up insane stories in my head. I was a dolt.

But my Muse was still there with me. I had completed one novel with her, but that was just the beginning. It was just the start of a beautiful journey that might end with my death.

It wasn’t time to start panicking and imagining the worst. It was the time to gird up our loins and start working on the next novel or next writing project. It was time to use the Muse to her best, and start working again.

Don’t Leave Any Time In Between Projects

If we want to maintain the respect of the Muse, and to be honest, if we want to maintain the respect we have for ourselves, we need to stop wasting time in this panic mode.

We are not has-beens. We are not even ever-have-beens.

The main thing we do know is to write. So why are we wasting so much time in panic mode, using our imagination in a way that it was never designed to be used. Our imaginations are our biggest weapon. They are the way the Muse communicates with us and the way we are able to create all of these amazing worlds.

Why are we wasting the biggest, brightest, and most powerful arsenal in our toolkit on nonsensical endeavours?

It’s like the US Army taking its best SWAT team members, and having them sell Girl Scout cookies.

It is a good idea for writers especially since we have a tendency to be high-strung, panicky sort of folk, to leave as little time in between projects as possible.

Our Responsibility To Our Muse

It is our responsibility to our Muses as well to not keep them waiting, and wasting their time. Their time is precious and they have chosen to spend it with us, rather than roam about the planet causing mischief, or attaching themselves to some other writer.

They are already preparing themselves and prepping their bodies for the next novel writing stint. They have forgotten about the previous work already. They have moved on and they want us to move on as well.

What is done is done.

We will edit it, and ship it, and complete the circle.

But for now, instead of hating ourselves, and calling ourselves names, it would be a better idea for us to get back into the game.

Just like a wrestler or a fighter shouldn’t leave too much time in between matches, because their skills would atrophy, the same applies to us. We are the fighting ring of writing every day. We are fighting with ourselves, with the daily decay of our skills, talents, and brains. We need to ensure we get as much writing done right now as possible.

We need to use our talents right now, and not wait for some miraculous time in the future when everything sets up perfectly. The Muse might be long gone at that point.

Difference Between Time Off And Panic

The Muse and our bodies and brains understand the difference between time off to take care of ourselves, and panic mode. There is stark difference between the two states, and you are well aware of that.

The Muse gets that we are human and we need to sleep, and go on vacations, and go to the bathroom, and hang out with friends. We are not robots, and we shouldn’t be. Robots never create anything awesome, whereas we are writers creating awesomeness every day.

But, when we go into panic mode, we are not recharging and recalibrating. In fact, we are harming ourselves, and our creative spirits. We are being mean to ourselves, and we are bringing ourselves down with our words, actions, and feelings.

We need to step forward, and take back control of our minds.

As has been said, the mind is a terrible master, but a great slave. Or something to that effect. We cannot give up the reins to our panicky mind. Take back the reins over your mind, and start working from that creative space.

As Soon As You Are Ready, A New Idea Will Pop In

I have noticed that as soon as I finish one novel, I have an idea for the next one already waiting in the wings, ready to take flight.

The idea is just an idea, until I put my fingers to the keyboard and start typing away.

A lot of times the idea in my head goes one way, but when I start writing it, it becomes something completely different. That’s not the point. The point is to write, write every day, a bit every day. Little bit every single day.

Keep on going, writing, beating down the censors, and write.

Some days the writing is easy, other days its hard. But we still keep on writing. Some days the dog, the mail man, and every single bird in the sky wants to disturb us and make us hate writing. Other days we write all of the words as if they flowed out of us like a dog drooling over steak (weird analogy?).

The point again is to forget about all the extraneous stuff and keep on writing.

The ideas are all there, they are all coming to us when we are ready. We just have to believe, and ask. But getting into a panic about it, isn’t going to help, but it will definitely hinder.

The Muse Doesn’t Like Panicky Writers

Also, the Muse doesn’t like it. My Muse hates crybabys and writers prone to random panics. I try to keep all of that on the down low when I am working with her. I don’t want her to see any of it, because if she does, she will be off my shoulder, zooming away to another writer, before I can say Kalamata olives.

It doesn’t mean that I suppress all of those emotions. It’s that I put all of those emotions that I feel regularly and intensely into my writing. If I feel like crying about my ex today, then I will put that into my story. I will really feel that emotion so that I can translate it into words, and make all of my readers feel those emotions for themselves.

That’s the job of a writer, isn’t it? To make us feel all of that we are afraid to feel on our own.

That’s what I do with my Muse, and my writing projects.

Let me know what you think of this. I would love to see a comment from you below.

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