Friday, August 14, 2015

Felicia Day and How the Writing Journey is Worth It

"You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)"by Felicia Day
I'm currently reading Felicia Day's memoir, "You're Never Weird on the Internet."  Despite being a generation or two older than Day, I greatly appreciate how her unique and quirky upbringing led her to be both the very talented and very unsure-of-herself (i.e. human) person she is.

Here's a great section from her book that I read this afternoon on the busride home that I felt was more than worth passing along:

“The next morning, I sat down at my computer and took a deep breath. “I will write a TV pilot before January 1. It may be the worst script ever written, but I will finish it, or . . . there isn’t any ‘or,’ stupid girl. It will happen. This pilot will happen.” And I started typing. 
I would love to say that given my resolve, the muses flowed through my fingertips to produce a script of utter perfection. That once I put pressure on myself, I rose to the occasion and found joy in every bit of dialogue I gave my characters.
That is NOT the case. 
Every second of writing that script felt like walking barefoot over shards of glass. I would write a bit and then I would sob, wanting desperately to erase what I’d just written. Oh God, that’s not a scene, no one acts like that. I have no idea what to make happen, who should talk next? I hate myself. Then I would force my fingers to type more, every word feeling like I was bleeding from every orifice. I was engulfed with fear of making mistakes, of writing something stupid, of encountering story problems “I couldn’t think my way out of. I was, in short, terrified of the process. It was not fun.
What drove me to continue? Sheer obstinate grit... 
“If ideas flow out of you easily like a chocolate fountain, bless you, and skip to the next chapter. But if you’re someone like me, who longs to create but finds the process agonizing, here’s my advice: 
  • Find a group to support you, to encourage you, to guilt you into DOING. If you can’t find one, start one yourself. Random people enjoy having pancakes.

  • Make a goal. Then strike down things that are distracting you from that goal, especially video games. (Unless it’s this book; finish reading it and THEN start.) 

  • Put the fear of God into yourself. Okay, I’m not religious. Whatever spiritual ideas float your boat. Read some obituaries, watch the first fifteen minutes of Up, I don’t care. Just scare yourself good. You have a finite number of toothpaste tubes you will ever consume while on this planet. Make the most of that clean tooth time. For yourself.
The creative process isn’t easy, even for chocolate-fountain people. It’s more like a wobbly, drunken journey down a very steep and scary hill, not knowing if there’s a sheer cliff at the end of it all. But it’s worth the journey, I promise."

Felicia Day is exactly the type of woman/gamer/person we need telling kids (and adults) of today that being different is not only okay, but important and valued.  She's also the kind of writer other writers need to hear speak the truth about how difficult and downright soul-shatteringly painful the writing process can be.

And, of course, that the writing journey is totally worth it.

-- Tom