Letting Internal Drama Derail Your Writing

I tend to talk a lot here about emotional drama, and the negative impact it has on your writing life. In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about how Resistance takes the form of drama–the arguments, the uproar, the torrid relationships we use as a distraction to avoid our work. Julia Cameron also discusses how important it is to keep the drama on the page in The Write to Right and The Artist’s Way. Clearly, getting (and staying) entangled in turbulent, overwrought relationships and situations is a common way artists and writers self-sabotage.

However, not all drama is loud and obvious. You don’t wear all your emotional turmoil on your sleeve. Particularly if you’re an introvert,  you can go through a lot of internal angst without anyone around you being aware of it. The dramas playing out in your own head, peopled with shadow versions of the real people around you, can be just as distracting as the ones that happen out in the real world.

I’ve struggled with this a bit lately myself. Only instead of imagined insults or future conversations that probably won’t ever happen making me nuts, it’s unspoken resentment. (Although trust me, I’m quite susceptible to those others as well.) It’s the stuff I keep thinking and not saying. It’s the things I feel, but don’t share.

To be more specific, it feels like it’s not okay to acknowledge my struggles and obstacles, without other people taking it as an insult or an accusation. So maybe the best thing to do is to just put the angst out there. So here goes.


It is really hard to jumpstart a fiction writing career when you have a full-time career and family. That statement is not about my spouse and his ability to provide, or how much I love and value my kids being home still. It’s not about my writer friends who do get to write full-time, minimizing their struggles. It’s not even really about my day job–I can be grateful for it even while acknowledging that it makes pursuing other important goals tougher.

I look at other fiction writers who are where I’d like to be in three to five years. Very few, whether indie or traditionally published, were working a full-time job and raising kids while trying to launch a fiction career.

The notable exceptions on the full-time job part being Lindsay Buroker, whose writing style is similar to mine and who actually worked in the same field as me (internet marketing) when she was getting started. And Frank Bill, whose writing style is nothing like mine, writes in the wee hours before a physically demanding job and I suspect, chews flooring nails for breakfast every day.

Despite being a local guy who Marian Allen tells me is really nice in person, I’m a little scared of Frank Bill. But I digress.


Well, it felt good to at least get that out there. However, resentment and angst aren’t going to get me where I need to go. They’re just going to make it even harder for me to put Butt In Chair and Words On Page. It might not be loud and melodramatic and external, but it’s drama all the same.  It’s a distraction, a time-waster and an energy-sucker and I ain’t got time for that nonsense. I got tales to spin.

And ultimately, whatever I have going on in my life, being a writer always comes down to just that: BIC/WOP.

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