As most of you may recall, I recently took part in Clarion West Write-a-thon, for which I committed to adding 500 words per day onto the rough draft of my next novel, “Working the Dead.” And I succeeded — above and beyond, in fact. At 70 pages/almost 40K words, I found myself chuffed to bits over it. Tickled pink. Overjoyed.
How did I do it?
I stopped thinking about it.
Before the Write-a-thon, I had been going through a horrible bout of blockage. If they had prune juice for writers, I would have probably taken out stock in it. Instead, I loaded up on self-help books, articles and every spiel I could find to make me feel better about myself. “Everybody gets blocks!” they said. “You should take up yoga! Or deep-sea welding!”
It was only when I finally stopped looking up TED talks and motivational conglomerations that I was able to open that Word document and get to work.
I started accepting certain truths I think most writers should consider:
– Rough drafts should be just that. You’re not going to show it to anyone (for fear of gelato-binging heartbreak).
– If you’re getting stopped by the fact that something isn’t perfect, you’ll never do anything new.
– The sooner you stop saying to yourself, “I can’t do this, I’m a failure, this is not going to go well,” the sooner you’ll get to work.
– You’re not the awful writer you think you are. You deserve the faith in yourself that you should always have at hand.
So the next time you find yourself dreading the intimidating horrors of the blank page, just throw yourself at it. Make the smallest commitment you absolutely know you will do and do that. You’ll be glad you did.