What stops you writing?
For me, it begins with distractions: internet ‘research’, Twitter, writing blog posts, eating biscuits.
Then there are the crows of doubt: I worry, where is this story going? Is it any good? Will I make my word count today? What if I can’t think of anything to write? There are days when the prospect of beginning and completing a 90,000 word novel is so daunting I want to hide behind the sofa!
But last November I took part in NaNoWriMo and was amazed that...1) I did it!
2) How fast I managed to complete my daily word count.
At my peak I wrote 2,000 words in as little as 2½ hours. It made me realise how inefficiently I had been working before, and how much time I’d wasted worrying when I could have been writing.
I resolved to learn from this. I would keep up the good habits which NaNo had instigated, and write each morning before I did anything else. No Twitter or Internet or fun of any kind until I’d written.
And, curiously, I found that writing became fun again!
A few months on, I’m still doing this. Yes, the anxiety still lurks – that niggling voice which asks, what will I write next? – but I don’t allow it to hold me back. I sit down, I begin to write, and things start to happen, they take shape of their own accord. The story takes flight; the characters speak and move and think and come alive; one scene triggers another, and before I know it, that little number at the bottom of the page is in the tens of thousands.
The writing process is so difficult to describe to those who haven't experienced it for themselves. It’s unpredictable: ideas can take me by surprise, or hide themselves away when I'm desperately willing them to appear. When it goes well I get lost in the story, only to resurface hours later. It sometimes feels as if, when I’m writing, magic happens.
It’s not something I can control, but once I stop trying to, I realise that this is exactly what’s so powerful about it.
So why not embrace this powerful, uncontrollable process? After all, unpredictable and surprising are wonderful attributes for a story. And magic? Well, we could all do with some of that.
Try it! Just write.I hope you find it as rewarding as I did.
Next month: I’ll be blogging about why you should stop writing and step away from your computer!