Monday, April 9, 2012

Write As Though No One Is Reading

I fell in a writing rut for a while--ok, the last three months.  I tend to get really hard on myself when I don't make my goals--whether they're writing goals, fitness goals, academic goals, or personal goals.  I believe that setting goals is a powerful tool.

Sometimes it's a tool I overuse.  Because with this writing break, I believe several things were happening.
1)  I am transitioning mentally from this year-long sabbatical I was given into pursuing another big, challenging goal (going back to school for physical therapy).
2)  I was letting all of the things I have learned about writing novels and publishing them congeal and sort out in my mind.

I did so much research, through reading books and blogs and attending conferences, that my brain overloaded a bit.  Not in a bad way, but enough that when I sat down to write, it felt like my head would explode from all of the things that I was "supposed to do."  Three-act structure, motivation-reaction, characterization, show-don't tell, goals, conflict, raising the stakes--all of the things that make great novels.  When I sat down to write, it felt like all of those things needed to fit into my first draft or I would be a terrible writer.  More than that, I didn't really feel like I had a story to tell.

I'm beginning to realize that I will never really have an idea for "THE STORY"--you know, the one that's so fabulous it's sure to be published.  "THE STORY" is a myth, and it's a dangerous myth.  If a writer was indeed blessed with the perfect story idea, and executed it flawlessly, and it was published to great acclaim, they would be up sh** creek if they didn't have the skill to repeat their success.

I don't want to be that kind of writer.  I want to be the kind of writer who sits down consistently and writes stories.  The better I get at telling stories, the closer I will be to publishing.  But I don't want to make publishing my end-all.  If I want a writing career, the long, profitable kind, I need to be consistently good at what I do.  And I'm not there yet.  I'm accepting that it's going to be a long road, and a joyful road, if I can keep the process fun.

Which brings me to my point:  If I'm going to sit down most every day to write a book, there are going to be lots of days where the writing's no good.  On those days, I need to keep going, because I can't afford to only write when the writing's good.  If I keep that up, I'll end up with another three month dry spell.  I need to write like no one is reading.  And when I remind myself that, in fact, I'm not a published author and there really is no one reading, I feel a kind of weight lift off of my shoulders, and it feels good--I'm free to write as much c-r-a-p as I want, and it doesn't hurt a thing.  That makes me smile.

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