Permission to Write

Right now I’m scared that all the words are crap and even though I’m meeting my word count goals (mostly) I’m scared they’re not going to count for anything and I won’t have anything I can use for a novel after this.

GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO WRITE CRAP.

TELL YOURSELF IT DOESN’T MATTER IF IT’S BAD NOW.

YOU CAN FIX IT LATER.

IT’S OKAY TO WRITE CRAP.

STEP 1: WRITE CRAP.

STEP 2: MAKE IT BETTER.

GO WRITE. GO WRITE CRAP.

Editing As You Write

I have a habit of opening up my draft and re-reading and editing what I’ve already written before I start writing new content. It’s not a BAD habit, sometimes I need to remind myself where I left off or remind myself of the tone I was going for but then something happens where I get bogged down and by the time I get to the end of the text I lose momentum/motivation and don’t want to write anything new.

(Writing, reading, and editing poetry is very different for me.)

And then I get upset at myself because how can I ever not want to write?

I think personally when I go back and re-read something I feel like I have to make it perfect in my head before I can move on to the next part. Because if the first part isn’t 100% right how can I write the next part? Or the next?

I write in chunks and spurts, I don’t have a routine where I write every day. But the time where I wrote the most in one chunk was when I forced myself to not edit what I wrote in my previous sessions.

It’s really hard not to, but I find the results (writing more words) more rewarding than the instant gratification of “fixing” something.

Try it some time. Don’t edit. Just open up your word doc and keep going.

Characters Talking

I never had imaginary friends growing up.

I had stuffed animals who I imagined were alive but they were grounded in reality and fluffiness. I never made anyone up on my own, the voice in my head was my own and very alone.

Until I decided to do nanowrimo in 2016 and I said I don’t care what I write, I’m going to write 50,000 words of prose and I don’t care what that prose is.

So, as a poet not knowing anything about writing fiction, I began to write and out of my writing came my first imaginary friends.

And the reason why I call them imaginary friends and not just characters is because as I wrote their story they started deviating from my plot and making their own decisions.

I would write a scene and hate it. I would write another scene and hate it too. And then I asked my character point blank: “What the actual fuck is wrong with you? Why aren’t you doing what I want?”

And that character talked back to me. He said, and I quote: “Becasue it’s stupid. I don’t want to do that.”

And that is how Away from my Heart of the Forest Cycle was born. He told me “no.” I asked him what he wanted to do instead. And he told me. So I wrote that. And I liked it a lot better than what I had tried to come up with.

SO the moral of this story is LISTEN TO YOUR CHARACTERS.

If you’re stuck somewhere and slumping around writing, check to see if your characters are working with the scene or not.

Don’t force your characters to do something that they wouldn’t normally do unless you have a really good reason. Because you want your plot to go that way is not a good enough reason.

If your characters want to do something that seems completely crazy to you, let them do it. You can always cut it out later or change it if you don’t like it.

You gave your characters life by writing their stories. Let them live.

You are not losing your mind if your characters talk back to you 🙂

Writing and Fear

Writing can be scary.

Or more specifically, writing, or expressing yourself creatively comes with a lot of extra negative thoughts.

(Writing itself can be scary too, do you dare express yourself? Do you want to let everything out that’s been trapped behind the locked door?)

One of the most important life lessons I’ve learned is you need to run towards the things you are afraid of.

Obviously, not burning buildings if you are afraid of fire, but when you want something and you’re afraid to go get it, you need to go get it anyway.

You have your stories and your poems in your brain and you want to EXPRESS them, you want to let them out but then all the BUTs and SELF-DOUBT and REJECTIONS come in and those can really weigh a person down.

Or you think that after you’ve finished your masterpiece, after you’ve poured all of your blood, sweat, and tears onto the page and actually made a thing, the world will look at it and go: that’s awful. Or you’re afraid you won’t get published or you won’t make any money and you’ll either be a starving artist forever or suffer working at a job you hate just so you can get by and write more crap.

Then you have your relationship to your stories and poems, one day you love them and the next day you hate them and you think they’re crap.

Sometimes when I write, memories come up that I don’t want to remember and sometimes writing doesn’t make me feel happy or safe but I still really, really want to do it, I want to finish that project, I want to write more.

But ultimately, even though it’s scary, writing is something you can throw yourself into. Because writing is something you love to do, even if it makes you feel bad sometimes.

If you can find a 9-5 job that does the same thing, a job that fills the hole in your soul, then do that too. But if the only thing that fills that hole is writing, don’t give up just because it doesn’t pay the bills or because you think you aren’t “good” enough.

There’s lots of bad writing out there but I think that there are more unfinished projects in the world than there are bad writers and you shouldn’t care about whether someone else thinks your writing is good or bad, if you think it’s good you need to stick with it and keep going.

If you think your writing is bad then it’s up to you to fix it, and guess what, you CAN fix it because it’s your story and it can be whatever you want it to be.

So don’t let the negative thoughts get you down. Go write.

Read Your Drafts Out Loud

Read your own work aloud. Seriously, it works. Go slow and take your time reading every single word you’ve written. Even if it makes you cringe, even if you hate the sound of your own voice, even if you hate the words.

Reading your work aloud will help fix any grammar mistakes and help you edit, you will be able to see where you want your pauses (commas) and get a better sense of how well your dialogue really flows.

If you stumble over a sentence because it sounds choppy when you read it you can change the tense or use different nouns or adjectives to make it better. If you feel like you’re being too blunt you can add things to make your sentence more lyrical or descriptive.

Even if you don’t like to do it or don’t think you need to do it, do it. Read your work aloud.