Writing is amazing. There’s nothing quite like the rush you get when you’re on a roll, pounding out words, watching the scenes take shape and feeling that momentum urging you on and on. It’s no wonder writers write because they need to–the feeling is addictive.
But it’s not always like that. Sometimes it’s hard, because the words won’t come, so you’re just left feeling frustrated, stuck, impotent.
Sometimes it’s hard, though, not because the words won’t come, but because they come from a hard place inside you. As writers, we draw on our own experiences to lend realism to our words, and while this can lead to good things–better writing, perhaps even catharsis for the writer–it can take a lot out of us.
I’m drawing on two very strong personal insecurities to write Miranda in THE TIES ETERNAL, the third WEB novella. The first is my fear of being too physically weak to defend myself or the people I love, which I discussed in Vicki Leigh’s Worst Nightmare Blog Hop. Miranda is a seventeen-year-old medium who lives in fear of dying because she doesn’t want to become like the ghosts that haunt her. Her decisions are driven by her need to become stronger, to defend herself from all assailants earthly and unearthly.
The second fear is less extreme, but no less powerful. I’m an introvert who is occasionally very good at acting like an extrovert. When in medium-sized groups of my friends, especially, it’s easy to imagine that I’m always talkative and engaged. In groups of strangers, though, I tend to be quiet, to let the conversation flow without me. If things get too loud and confused, with several people talking at once, sometimes I tune out of the conversation altogether because it’s simply too stressful to follow.
I don’t mind this, usually. It doesn’t usually make a big difference to me because like I said, it usually happens with strangers. My friends are my friends because they’re considerate and conversations between multiple people almost never get out of control. But there are times it makes me feel helpless, and frustrated with myself, and exhausted. The fear of people forgetting you, or ignoring you intentionally, or being bored of you, is a nasty and subtle one.
Miranda is deaf, and in one scene there’s a large gathering of her family, not all of whom use ASL. As I wrote the scene and imagined the noise and confusion of a large family celebration, the non-sign gestures and the overlapping conversation, then imagined I couldn’t hear words or laughter at all, and that my closest companion–my partner in an introvert buddy system, if you will–was too caught up in everything to stick by me…well, let’s just say it wasn’t a good feeling. But it was one I could definitely relate to.
The day I wrote that scene was a hard writing day for me. I only got a few hundred words down, which frustrated me because my goal is to finish this first draft by the end of the year. But it reminded me of just why writing time is so important.
Dedicated writing time, every day (or every other day, or what works for you), is important because it’s not just words on a page. You can’t always just puke out the same word counts every time you sit down. I can normally write 1,000 words an hour no problem, so by the math if I gave myself seven hours of straight writing time I could hit my word count goal for THE TIES ETERNAL. But that’s not how it always works. You can’t go by average. You can’t say, oh, I can finish this in seven hours so I can relax for awhile instead of writing. Because some days, it’ll take you an hour to write one paragraph and you’ll be left heartsick at the end of it.
If it’s at all possible, don’t cut back on your writing time. Don’t put if off. Don’t just assume you’ll be able to NaNo that shit and spit out a certain number of words in a certain amount of time. If you’re working with a deadline, give yourself the flexibility to have hard writing days without stressing yourself out. Write, even if you feel ahead, even if things are going well, because you never know when a hard day will hit.