Sunday, February 21, 2016

Don't Let It Become A Grind

We writers put enough pressure on ourselves.  From the right plot to how we describe the mood to which characters get more billing, we fret over every little detail in our work.  With all of this in mind, it serves us to remember not to add any additional pressure.

Even with all of the stuff that consumes our mind, writing, at its essence, should be fun.  After all, we're in this for a joyful reason, and when the joy goes away, so does most of our ability to write well.  And one of the easiest ways for the joy to go out of writing is to turn it into a grind.

Yes, writing is work, but that doesn't mean it needs to be depressing.  Here's what I mean - although we want to complete our work and write as much as possible, we can't set a schedule so arbitrary that we'll put anything on paper just to satisfy the work requirements of x number of pages or y number of words per day.  I've fallen into this trap on more than one occasion, and it has made writing something I dread rather than look forward to when I do.  Instead of thinking, "I can't wait to find out what happens in the story today," I think, "Damn, another 3,000 words and I can go to whatever fun thing I wanted to really do today."

Writing is a creative process, and it doesn't always follow the schedule you want.  There are days I can write 10,000 words and not bat an eye.  Other days, unfortunately, I can sit at my desk for two hours and barely pour out 300 words(when I'm cooking, I average 1,000 words every half an hour).  It's the second scenario that we need to recognize, and when that happens, we need to just walk away.  It's going to be wasted effort anyway since you're likely to discard it upon review.  I've gotten rid of a week's worth of work because, on second look, it was horrible, and that was usually when I just wasn't into it.

Maybe your outline ran out.  Maybe you got distracted with the chores of everyday life.  Or maybe it just wasn't meant to be that day.  Whatever the case, don't force it, because it's going to drag you down.  Once that happens, it becomes a self licking ice cream cone that shuts off the creative process.  So lighten up and know when to walk away.  You'll be a better writer when you're enthusiastic about it.

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