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.