When it comes to being educated about the writing craft, I consider myself very much a noob. I’m still learning how to beat passive voice, how to make my characters fly off the pages, how to plug in plot holes to keep the entire book from leaking. I will probably forever be learning about my voice and my favorite ways to structure a sentence, not to mention how, in general, to write a novel. How crazy are we for picking this life?
But, I think, the biggest, and arguably the most important, thing I have learned so far is the ability to forgive myself.
I hinted at this in the first few sentences of my post. Writing is, largely, about learning. I believe that a talented writer isn’t just born. They are created in the words they craft. They spend hours upon hours at the keys or carved over paper. I hope that I am echoing the greats in some of their footsteps.
However, I also know that I am human. A part of being human is the truth that mistakes are likely to happen. Until recently, I was not able to accept that fact. If there are other writers out there struggling with the same thoughts that I sometimes struggle with, I would like to clarify and send some positive vibes your way.
Let’s start this off with a story. A story about my own journey as a writer. I started writing when I was sixteen (I am twenty-one now). I have written several, horrible novels since then (just ask my poor CP- so sorry!). When I was a freshmen in college, I was a hungry writer. I wrote, somehow, every single day. And it wasn’t some measly word count. This was 1,500 words a day. I managed to write myself a novel between the months of August and December my first semester of college.
That was the last novel I have successful completed. Fast forward three years, I have been unable to complete a single novel, though I may try.
But, you know what, that’s okay! It really is. I still love writing. I’m still trying. I never completely stopped writing. I am getting my major in creative writing in December; therefore I have many a short story and poem under my belt from the years past. I also tried to write several novels. They just weren’t completed. For a while, I beat myself up about this. I thought I was a terrible writer, one that would never get published. That sort of negative thinking is just not fair to me. Perhaps I couldn’t finish a few novels because of that very same thought process. It blocked me from my creative mind and made me feel horrible.
Here’s a few reminders for those people who may be like me, who struggle and dig themselves into a digger ditch with their negative thoughts.
It’s okay to slip and fall behind sometimes. You are not always going to be able to keep up with your daily word count. You’re not always going to be able to write at the same time every day. Life happens! Instead of beating yourself up for missing that word count, try to do something that destresses you. If you have the time, try to catch up, but, if not, get back to your novel as soon as you can. Breaks are natural. We need them to survive.
It’s okay to quit a project. If you don’t feel as in love with it as you did, that’s okay. If you don’t feel the passion about it anymore, that’s okay. If you don’t feel like it anymore, that’s okay too. You are more than welcome to stop and start as many projects as you need. Don’t force yourself to write something you don’t like. It will drain you and perhaps make you resent yourself and your writing. Sometimes that is just what you need to do to find the true magic.
It’s okay to not know what the heck you are doing. I am not an expert. I would be straight up lying if I said that. But, I also know, I make myself feel awful by pretending that I should be able to write beautiful sentences on the first try, that my novels should resemble something on the best-selling list by the first couple of drafts. Uh, unrealistic standards much? But still they’re ingrained in my brain. Results don’t happen right away. So, allow yourself a learning curve. Know that there is only going up from here, and remember that it takes hard work before people begin to recognize the lovely talent stirring inside of you.
Now, I can happily report I am returning back to the world of novel writing. My newest WIP is moving much faster than ever before. I’m at a better time and perspective in my life so I can fuel this idea with as much love and energy as it needs. But, I had to learn those hard lessons first over the course of several years.
So, you know what, I am thankful for mistakes. They got me to where I am today!
What do you think? Are you like me and do you beat yourself up after every mistake? Do you agree with my reminders? Let me know in the comments down below!