Writing every day is hard

I have spent more time reading books ABOUT writing than actually writing. I have spent hours in workshops and classes, attended conferences and meetings – all in the hopes of being instantly inspired with the perfect idea that leads to a flawless first draft.

Every class and every book has two main messages: 1) If you want to be a writer, you have to write every day.  2) The first draft is going to be crap. (NO. Wait. The first draft is going to need to be edited. There! That’s much more positive.)

I think all writers are victims of other writers’ success. When we read a great novel, we are not reviewing the original draft. We only read published works that have been revised, critiqued, edited and re-written.

OF COURSE the story sounds better in my head than on paper! Did I really think it would be that easy?

Well, yes. Yes I did. So when I struggled to describe a scene or create dialogue or explain a character’s motivation, I gave up. Because I expected it to be easy.  And besides that, sometimes the little voice in my head is a bitch: “Real writers don’t struggle to find the right words,” she would whisper. “Real writers get it right the first time.”

But they don’t! Real writers work, and re-work. They write and edit and revise and re-write. Creativity takes time. And patience.

Writing every day is hard – because progress is incremental and I want MONUMENTAL and IMMEDIATE. In the immortal words of Carrie Fisher in Postcards from the Edge: Instant gratification takes too long.

 

How do you get inspired to take care of yourself?

January 21, 2015
by Melissa L. Weber (@Melwriter)
#YourTurnChallenge Day 3

I start each day with such good intentions: Do yoga! Eat yogurt! Drink eight glasses of water! Go to the gym after work! Some days, I do most of it. This week will be better! (I think that every week.)

The past two weeks we’ve been trying to eat vegetarian. My husband took it a step further and tried vegan and minimal gluten – only cheated a little with eggs. “I’m not dogmatic,” he said. “And I need something for breakfast.” No toast though. And I just can’t eat eggs without toast. I don’t know how he does it.

We spent a bit of time in the organic foods section of Kroger. I like their selection. We are trying recipes I’ve been meaning to try for years – several from Moosewood, a vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, New York. I have two of their cookbooks and last week I made Caribbean sweet potato soup, which was delicious, and Quinoa vegetable soup, also good. Fun stuff. Tasty too. And I’ve been pleased with how good I have felt since focusing on eating better. Our kids even gave us cookbooks for Christmas, so the word is out. We got Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck and Cook This, Not That. Haven’t cooked from those yet, although I plan to. Try every cookbook I own during January and February! That’s not exactly a New Year’s resolution or part of my bucket list – just something I’ve been meaning to do for years. I think it came once from a brain dump.

Have you ever done a brain dump? Take a notebook and make a list of everything you want to do: this year, within five years, maybe 10 years. And not just big bucket list things – everything. I keep multiple lists going so I can add to them. Last year, I created a list of “everything I like to do” from read, dance and nap when I’m tired, to bike, drink beer, and play cards – it has about 50 items. I also have a list of “things I care about most.” This includes issues from global warming and women’s rights to wildlife protection and supporting the arts. I’ve got a list for projects around the house (reorganize the pantry, put old photos in scrapbooks – this includes our wedding pictures. We’ve been married for 17 years. That one hasn’t made it to the top of the list yet. But going to Ohio State football games does.) When faced with multiple choices for my time, the priority is always on “things I like to do.”

How do you get inspired to take better care of yourself? How does feeling better inspire creativity?

Planning for NaNoWriMo

The “National Novel Writing Month” is a speed-writing tactic to write a novel in 30 days. It has a fun 20 year history and has inspired thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands – of people to complete a first draft of a novel. The NaNoWriMo website describes “best practices in preparation.” There are dozens of conflicting suggestions: outlining, not outlining, researching, avoiding research until the editing phase, creating detailed character descriptions, and diving in with no preparation at all. It also says, “choose what is best for you.”

I am a “failed NaNoWriMo.” You have to commit to writing about an hour every day for one month. Some days longer. You need to average writing 1,667 words per day for 30 days to reach the 50,000 word goal.

Why would anyone want to put themselves through this? I can think of two good reasons! First and most important, this exercise requires writing every day – the best way to become a better writer. And because of the speed required to make the word count, there is no time to edit while you write; so it’s a great way to focus on the creativity of telling your story. Daphne Gray-Grant, The Publication Coach, offers a succinct list of pros and cons on her website. https://www.publicationcoach.com/nanowrimo/

I am planning now for 2018 November, the month generally promoted as the time to undertake NaNoWriMo – with 100,000 of your closest friends. If support groups help you achieve more, it’s a great opportunity to commiserate with other people who are attempting to do it too.

NaNoWriMo Preparation, Step 1: Daily writing

For more than 40 years – since I was a kid – I’ve been reading books, taking workshops and classes, attending seminars and conferences, all to learn how to be a better writer. From each instructor I have learned insights, suggestions, traps to avoid, but they all say the same thing: to be a writer you have to write every day.

Writing every day is difficult, but it’s all about muscle memory. Just like music practice – if you want to learn how to play an instrument, you should play every day. All that repetition makes you a musician.

So my first step in preparing for NaNoWriMo is to carve out daily time now – even 15 minutes a day, every day – to exercise creative writing muscles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bloggess

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