Monday, September 8, 2014

Note to self.

Dear self,

You have a book you're trying to finish within the month. You've been working on the last 10-15% of said book for agonizingly long, at a much worse pace than usual. It hasn't been easy. Perhaps you need a little pep talk.

It's okay to go to work without applying mascara. But it's not okay to go to work without having written 500+ words beforehand.

Every morning, ass in seat, fingers on keyboard. Write the chapter, even if it sucks. That's what revision is for. And I know you're scared to death with the thought of revision, because you're attempting to revise not one but two books in a row, but it's entirely necessary for getting published. Trust in your ability to revise well (look at the great work you do every day at your day job). Know that it will be slow, but you will make it good. And then don't stop until it's just right (and only you will know exactly when that is).

Write the chapter even if it seems out of place. You're going to shuffle shit around in revision, and it will fit somewhere.

Write even when you're tired. Perhaps especially when you're tired. Fewer "shoulds" get in the way then.

You know who Emerson is. Write her the way you want. Give the character and the story that edge that only you can do, even if you're afraid of putting it out there. Your story--and you--will be better for it.

It's okay to do things that make you happy, even if they're not writing-related. It's really important, in fact, to read books and watch TV shows. Even if you're not reading/watching them explicitly for writing-related purposes, chances are, you'll learn something.

It's okay to spend time in the evenings working on fun crafts. This helps keep the creativity flowing.

It's okay to watch the birds. That's a fun, relaxing activity. Just try not to pay attention to them in the morning before you've hit 500 words.

It's okay to spend time with friends and family. If you write each morning, then your nights and weekends are freed up more for this. It's also fine to not spend time with friends and family. Sometimes you're just not up for it--maybe one of your maladies is flaring up, or you're just mentally exhausted.

It's okay to spend time doing chores. They're not taking away from writing time--in fact, they may be enhancing it. Think about how many brainstorms you've had while doing dishes or cleaning the shower.

It's okay to check out new music to see what inspires you and your characters. Arctic Monkeys and the Pretty Reckless have been immensely helpful in this regard. But stay away from music that gets you down--sorry Lana Del Rey, bit sadcore's a bad choice for this writer. And don't forget to indulge in your daily dose (or several) of Muse.

It's okay to get out and do fun things. Funny how experiencing life outside of reading and writing helps to enrich writing.

It's okay to write slowly. It's just not okay to not write at all. If you skip a morning of writing, there'd better be a damn good reason. Something had better be on fire. (On that note, you should also remember to back your book up every single week.)

You will have time after you're done this draft to read all those articles you've saved on revising, crafting your elevator pitch, etc. You will also have time then to read a few of those books on writing that have been on your to-do list for a while. There's a time for those things, and that time isn't now (but it's soon).

When you finish this draft, it's okay for it to be imperfect. Like, really imperfect. It's okay for it to suck. Nearly everyone's first draft sucks. You're in very good company. So just remember to calm down about it, focus, and revise.

But first, you write.

Just get it written. Finish the story. Kill the character, and make a few other characters miserable in the process.

And enjoy the bumpy, frenetic, and altogether thrilling ride.

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