This week: Your Worst EnemyEdited by: LJPC - the tortoise
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This newsletter is about defeating your worst enemy.
“Still, I believe the first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”
~ Steven King
“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page.”
~ Jodi Picoult
“I don't fiddle or edit or change while I'm going through that first draft.”
~ Nora Roberts
“Let me back up a little and tell you why I prefer writing to real life: You can rewrite. A novel, for example, can be cleaned up, altered, trimmed, improved. Life, on the other hand, is one big messy rough draft.”
~ Harlan Coben
Your Worst Enemy
Do any of these sound familiar?
I’d be writing, BUT…
…it’s too hot. Sweating sapped my creative juices.
…it’s too cold. My fingers are frozen to the keyboard.
…my day job is stressing me out
…my family needs me. They can’t make a move without me.
…I’m too tired after my zumba-yoga-MMA combo class.
…my muse is missing. I checked all the bars, but I haven’t found her yet.
…I can’t come up with the perfect idea.
…I’ve got the perfect idea, but someone criticized it/my writing/me, and now I’m depressed.
…aliens have landed.
These are not REASONS. They are EXCUSES. (Except for the last one—it’s permissible to stop writing if aliens land. )
If you are waiting for the perfect time and place, complete serenity with no stresses, or for the perfect idea to leap up and give you a high five, you might as well give up now because life is never trouble free.
I could list a number of ways for you to try to write, like scheduling writing time, trying to write long hand, going to a new environment like a library, or dictating your thoughts into a recorder to transcribe later. But these don’t address the underlying cause.
The real reason most writers "can't" write is simply because they aren't making a serious effort -- and that has to do with fear. High expectations can lead to over-thinking everything and becoming hyper-critical. The desire to write something utterly awesome, something that everyone will love, can actually paralyze the creative process.
Don’t Be Afraid of Crap
Writers improve as they go along, learning rules about adverbs, passive verbs, dialog tags, repetitive sentence structure, etc. But that’s a double-edged sword. The better a writer is at spotting errors, the more they find in their own work. This can lead to major insecurity.
This isn’t something that happens only to inexperienced writers. You can’t imagine how many published authors sit down to write that next book and are petrified—paralyzed by the concept their writing won’t be good enough. They think, All my ideas are old and boring … This will never be as good as my last book … My agent will hate it and fire me … If it actually gets printed, readers will hate it and reviewers will trash it. Everyone will know I’m a fraud whose writing sucks!!!!!
So how do they power through and get that story written?
They write a little, acknowledge it sucks, and KEEP WRITING.
Why? Because even the worst writing can be improved. But only once it’s on the page.
Like learning to play an instrument, no one can improve by staring at the instrument and wishing they could play like a rock star. Every player in the history of the world was awful in the beginning. It’s only when they played and practiced and worked to improve that they got better.
So stop being overly critical. Allow yourself the freedom to write crap. Your first effort is not your final draft. You can figure out what needs to be improved, and if you fear you aren’t seeing it clearly, you can get help from reviewers. You can whip that thing into shape! You can sculpt, buff, and polish it until it sparkles like a diamond!
When it comes to writing or not writing, your own worst enemy is -- YOU.
There’s always a “reason” why you can’t write, but these are excuses. Your real problem is probably the fear it won’t be good enough.
No one writes a perfect first draft. Not even your favorite authors. But unless that first draft gets finished, it will never develop into the glittering gem of perfection it can be.
Don’t be afraid of writing something that isn't perfect. Give yourself permission to write crap! Once you overcome your fears and WRITE, then the fixing and polishing can commence, and you’ll make that story SHINE!
Until next time: Let the horror bleed onto the pages with every word!
Writing is MURDER! Here are some stories about murderers for your reading pleasure.
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billwilcox and LJPC - the tortoise have published --
Soul Cutter--Lexa Cain (Amazon) The Watercourse--W.D.Wilcox (Amazon) Possession--W.D.Wilcox (Amazon)
To my delight, some writers took the time to comment on my last newsletter: "Suffering Defeat" Thank you!
Comments listed in the order they were received.
BIG BAD WOLF submits "Dead Rising: Your Story" and writes: Zombies are those uninvited guests to a party. Hopefully you have plenty of leftovers, not to mention a good crowbar.
I know an author who likes to throw “Zombie Prom” parties to promote her book. In that case, zombies ARE invited!
Vampyr14 writes: Happy New Year! I think I'm reaching the 200+ mark for rejections too, but I'll just keep on truckin'. There isn't any other way... I hope 2014 is full of acceptances for you, and devoid of rejection.
Thanks! Right back at you!
Taniuska writes: Very appropriate post for this time of the year when everyone reflects on their achievements in 2013. Loved reading about how even the great books struggled to get noticed when they first started. :)
It’s helpful to know that even great writers struggle to succeed. We all need as much encouragement as we can get. Thanks for replying to the newsletter!
billwilcox writes: Your newsletters always inspire me to write, but this one inspires me to submit my work. I have two words for rejections: "KISS OFF!"
Great attitude, Bill! If any works deserve to be accepted, yours do. You’re such a talented writer!
Riss Ryker writes: Thank you so much for this inspiring post. I, for one, needed to hear this. For some of us, like myself who just started writing seriously, those rejections hurt! The best advice from me, for what it's worth, is take each rejection and learn from it, but don't let it RULE you....
It's amazing how many super authors and books were rejected. I'm glad the post helped you. Thanks so much for replying to the newsletter!
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