I am a master procrastinator. Then again, aren’t all Millenials? Aren’t all writers?
It’s been almost a week since Trump was elected, and I still don’t know quite what to say.
I’ve been back almost a week, crawling back into the work routine. All was going fine until I woke up feeling exhausted yesterday morning. What is it about Wednesdays? Anyway, this week has been a lot of catch-up both at work and at home (okay, not so much at home. I’ve spent most of it watching Avatar The Last Airbender). I figure, after spending so many months working nonstop on the house, I deserve a break, right? Except that wallpaper isn’t going to take itself down.
I’ve got to get back into a good routine. Watching Avatar is all well and good (because it’s an amazing show) but if I’ve got hours after work, I should use them more productively.
I could write! Hey, what a novel idea (was that a pun? You bet your ass). Easier said than done, though.
I could edit! Another laborious task that, while necessary, is not always (read: never) fun.
I could work on the house! There are still a million things to do, but things that could be accomplished in an evening? Perhaps.
I could read! I need to reread a few things.
Or, you know, I could do absolutely nothing for a while and be unproductive, because that’s okay too.
Well, I completely missed last week. You ever have one of those weeks where you get absolutely nothing done? Yeah, that was me last week. Between surprise visits and a stressful week of waiting, I completely spaced most things I was supposed to do, including writing this. The bad news is, of course, that NaNo is coming up and I’m beginning to think I may not get through it this year.
At some point in every writer’s career (at least, in most if you’re not super overly cocky about the quality of your work), you’ll hit the bottom. This is the place where it feels like nothing you write is good enough, that you’re not improving in any way, and that it would be pointless to continue. We’ve all been there, and if you haven’t, you’ll get there eventually. I’m not saying it to be mean–it’s a fact all writers face. We’re full of self-doubt and have a nasty habit of comparing ourselves to others. For some, the bottom is where they stop writing and funnel it away into a desk drawer never to look at again. For others, it’s a time to wallow and complain and generally feel terrible until we get it together enough to pull ourselves up.
Some people might think that wallowing isn’t the way to deal with a problem, but time is really what it takes. Some people might call this writer’s block as well, but that isn’t what it is. You may start projects and then abandon them because you feel they’re simply not good enough. That’s completely okay. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and give yourself a break.
When you hit rock bottom, or at least, what feels like it, it’s going to suck and it may take weeks or months before you start feeling better about it. Like everything in life, your brain has to take time to wrap around it and work through why you’re feeling that way. It may be because of comparisons you’ve made to others, comments others have made about your work (whether true or not), or just a feeling of ennui. Whatever the case, don’t be afraid of not writing for a while. If you can take a break, do it. Revitalize yourself. If there are problems, work on them. I tend to make the same writing mistakes over and over, despite knowing my faults, and that sometimes makes me wonder if it’s even worth keeping going. If you can’t learn from your own mistakes, how are you supposed to improve? It’s a difficult question to answer and one that has to be answered. It sucks, but you have to remember that this too shall pass. Well, hopefully anyway.
The scariest thing about actually being a writer is letting other people read your writing. When you first start writing, you think it’s fantastic and everything you write is gold! Fast-forward five years to you rereading what you wrote and thinking it’s the worst piece of crap since the first time your puppy took one on the floor. The best part about writing is that you’re constantly growing and improving with every person who reads your work, so even if their comments don’t make you jump for joy (okay, and sometimes they make you die on the inside), it’s helping in the long-run.
Putting yourself out there is the hardest and the most important thing you have to do. Opening yourself up to critiques is scary, letting people read the things you wrote, that you slaved over for months or years, is terrifying. It’ll take you farther, though.
Today, in fact, I have an event to attend in which I’ll be talking about writing and possibly even reading aloud to people (reading your own work aloud? What is this? The Torture Chamber?). I’m generally not that great in front of groups, and you’d think I’d be better after being a teacher, but not so much. Taking this step, however, could lead to bigger and better things, or at least, a book sale.
I’ll admit I am not one to step out on a cliff very often. I haven’t sent my novels to publishers because I’m afraid they’re not good enough. Someday, I hope to write one that I deem “good enough” for the pros to read and hopefully not just toss back on the slushpile. It’ll be terrifying when I do, but I know it’ll be for the best. Most writers dream of being traditionally published, of being stamped with a “verified” writer stamp across their forehead, as though the gatekeepers in publishing have deemed them worthy. Worthiness is all in the eyes of the beholder.
So I’m still here, taking small steps, but steps nonetheless, to get somewhere in my writing career. I’m putting myself somewhere – maybe not out there yet – but somewhere.
A few years ago, I wrote a novel about a girl who goes off in search of her “other half.” Now, if you take a look at most YA, dystopian novels, this is no new idea. So many YA novels feature a girl who goes off in search of a man because oftentimes, girls may feel as if they need to be loved to be worthy of something. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the notion, but a lot has changed since then and I’ve learned a lot (most of which has made me even more cynical than I already was, but hey, what can you do?) and now I look back on my novel and wonder how I can change it to make it better fit my ideas about that sort of thing.