This is in response to my post from a few months ago, When The Ideas Won’t Cooperate which is about the struggles of writing. I wanted to say two things. (1) Thanks to all the people who commented on that post with motivation. It’s good to know that there are other people out there who go through the same thing. And (2) I’m going to write this post primarily as motivation to myself when I might be lacking it, but maybe it will help motivate other writers out there too.
I’m in a much better place with my novel now. I went through several stages with my outline in trying to piece the components together in a way that I was happy with and I eventually got to a place where I was happy. I am doing my first draft for nanowrimo so hopefully I am still happy with it by the end of November.
Now on to some motivational stuff to keep you writing (this close to the end of nano you might just need it)
The most basic reason why you should keep writing can be summed up in one study I read about online. In this study a pottery class were split into two groups, one of which would be graded on how many vases they made over the semester while the other would be graded on the quality of one pot that they produced.
So over the course of the semester, half the class sat in that room constantly making more and more vases just to increase the number they had. Whereas the other group spend a while reading up on pottery techniques, and a while planning out their perfect vase, and then they made that one vases.
At the end of the semester, the vases made by the group who were judged on quantity rather than quality were significantly better in terms of quality. This is because they had made so many vases that they knew how to make them better. There’s no point just reading about how to do something, you have to get in there and do it for yourself.
This study is the perfect analogy for writing. If you spend all your time worrying about how imperfect your writing is (which I do constantly) you will come out the other side with far worse writing than someone who has just written a lot. This might be trash, but only by creating trash will you be able to create a magical weave of words latter on.
Just get in there and write okay??? You won’t regret it.
Writing might feel like a never ending mess, but you’re the one who wanted to write a book. Why?? You wanted to share a story with the world and be able to hold a novel that you wrote in your hands. Imagine how good that will feel. You’ll never get there if you don’t do this.
And although writing might be two steps forwards one step back, at least you’re moving forwards. Slowly but surely, you are getting through this draft and achieving something that most people have never done.
Remember the look on some people’s faces when you tell them “hey, I’m writing a novel.” They might think you’re slightly crazy, but they’re also amazingly proud and envious too. Writing only takes dedication, and right now you’ve got to put in the work so that you can prove to them and to yourself that you can do it.
Remember why you started writing in the first place? You were so impressed by your friend’s manuscript that you wanted to start writing. Now, over three years later, she’s stopped writing altogether because her novel got rejected by agents. You still haven’t finished a manuscript. Don’t you want to be able to send her your novel before you leave high school so you can show her what you’ve achieved? Or even just know that you finished something that is probably a lot better than what she wrote considering you’re a lot older now and have had more time to develop your craft? (this probably doesn’t apply to everyone but hey it’s my story)
Remember the yearning desire deep in your soul that you felt to write? That’s still in there somewhere, in fact it’s probably closer to the surface now. You might not feel quite as exuberant now that you are actually writing and not just wishing you could be writing, but you still want this.
If you’re in the plotting stage right now, the stage that I struggle with the most, then know that your idea will get better. It might seem stereotypical and irrational now but that’s because you’ve only got the base. You don’t know all the background information, all the intricacies that will make this story original and unique and into something you are proud of writing.
Your writing may not have the strongest and most compelling plot, but that doesn’t matter because you have amazing characters. Your plot is secondary to them. The web of plot holes will be filled eventually, it will make sense, you’ll figure it out.
You have the potential to create something amazing, and as long as you keep writing and don’t give up you will end up with a book on the shelves at some point. You just have to keep going okay?
If that hasn’t pumped you up and gotten you back into writing I’m going to presume that you’re facing burn out of some sort so here’s what I want you to do. If after any step you feel ready to get back into writing then go ahead.
- Put on your novel playlist and really listen to some of the key songs that inspired you
- Look at your novel pinterest board
- Read your outline, what is meant to come next? Do you not want to write that? If not, we need to change direction
- Think about the idea and what parts of it you wanted to write in the first place – write that
- Reread some scenes you loved writing (e.g. that death scene)
- Read a novel that really inspires you (e.g. Maggie Stiefvater’s works)
- Take a shower and just think
- Go for a walk with your dog and clear your head
If you’ve gotten to here you either need to (1) ditch the novel because clearly you don’t care about it (and if a voice in your head just screamed nooooo!! then that means you HAVE to choose the second option) or (2) just sit in that chair and write.