I still have revision brain, so this post is coming to you in the form of a list, all nice and organized-like. Four things I’ve learned lately:
1. My writing process is one part determination and two parts self-delusion. For example, for the last six (?) weeks whenever someone asks me how my writing is going, I say “Great! Just a couple more weeks now.” Well, it’s been a couple of weeks, and guess what, self? It’s not done. It has to be this way, though. The self-delusion is very important. If I really knew how long it would take, how many hours I would end up putting into it, who knows if I would survive. I think writing a book is like having a baby in that way (not that I really know what having a baby is like). You kind of forget the pain afterwards, and you need to or you would never write/procreate again.
2. The only way to grow is to take risks. To put yourself out there. I think I knew this one already, I just hadn’t put it into practice, at least not in this respect. I’ve been looking for critique partners. It’s a scary process. This the first time anyone outside my immediate circle has read more than a chapter of the WIP. What if they don’t like it? What if it’s awful and I just haven’t realized it yet? What if all my dreams are flushed down the toilet with one miserable critique? But honestly, it hasn’t been so bad. People have *gasp* liked my story. And I’ve found some ways to make it even better. You know the best part about finding critique partners, though? It’s making friends. Other writer friends. Writing can be a lonely task, and it is so amazingly helpful to know there’s someone else going through it with you, a cheerleader on the other side of the world who always has your back. It’s the best gift I’ve given myself.
3. Protect the work. You hear this a lot in writing circles and I can’t say I ever totally understood it. But one of my writing friends gave me a piece of advice this week that really made everything click for me. I was considering all the opportunities I had in front of me and getting a bit stressed. I guess I had this idea that I had to say yes to everything, because, well, it was an opportunity. They don’t come along every day. Well, my writer friend told me that when it comes to your writing, it’s okay to be a little bit selfish. If that opportunity is going to harm your work, take away your time or stress you out, it’s okay to say no. Before anything else you have toprotect the work.
4. Just how many hours can be squeezed from a day if you’re really looking. I read a post awhile ago about how willpower is a muscle. This really resonated with me. It has taken me a long time to really feel like I’m using the time I have effectively. When I first started working full time, there is no way in hell you could make me sit in front of a computer and write after work. I was done. All my willpower was taken up just getting through the day at work. But little by little I’ve worked that willpower muscle, and now I write every day. Every single day. I wake up earlier to spend an hour or so writing before work. Then I get home from work and after a quick browse online, I sit down to write again. I’m a big believer in downtime and listening to yourself and your needs. It doesn’t do to burn out – that won’t help you write your novel/compile an art portfolio/learn an instrument/whatever your dream may be. But after a while you find you can do a little more and a little more, until you know, at the end of the day, you’ve spent those hours in the best way possible: In the pursuit of your dream.
So those are the things I’ve learned lately. And now for a pretty travel picture to end the week: