Becoming a Better Writer: Pushing Through

Something that I have realized in the past year is that I am not the kind of writer who would be writing only when the muse hits. I’m not responsible enough for that. I started writing The Thing About Apples back in the spring during my ‘off’ semester. Then I took time off because of a move, then more time off because of switching families (for nannying), then more time off for relationship issues, then more time off for the holidays…. instead of actually writing when the muse hit, I ended up making excuses for not writing. I would push things off to the next day, truly and completely believing that I’d have time tomorrow. But tomorrow would come and I’d be stressed, or the new Dragon Age game would come out, or my family would want to go see Annie, and all that time from yesterday when I should have been writing was already gone.

There are definitely writers out there who can write when the muse hits, I don’t want to deny that they exist. And that I am exceedingly jealous of them. I also know, however, that there are other writers out there like me: the ones who say that we like to write when the muse hits, when really we are just looking for excuses not to write. We’re afraid what we’ll do on a schedule won’t be good enough, we don’t think the idea we have right now is the best one, we don’t want to face some of the plot holes and walls of bad character development that we’ve written ourselves into. We think that maybe, just maybe, if we wait for a better day that these problems will resolve themselves.

In my experience, they don’t. Those problems continue to sit there, and they actually get worse as time goes on and the freshness of the story begins to fade. I forget where I was even going with the plot, or with certain characters, and I spend a lot of my time backtracking just to push forward instead of leaving that to the editing process later, as I most likely should.

So this year, to become a better writer myself, I’m dedicated to writing on a schedule. I won’t beat myself up if I make word count every day, but I’m going to start taking it seriously when I miss a weeks’ worth of writing, as I did in 2014. I’m going to push past my fear of that not-quite perfect first draft that doesn’t exist and allow myself to write badly in order to write often. I’m going to shoulder aside my distaste for a long editing process. I’m going to push myself out of that realm of ‘hobby’ writer, and in to the ranks of professional writers. I’m going to treat my novels-in-progress the same way I would a career project, instead of like pets or children. I’m going to push myself to my limits, and hopefully come out the better for it.

What kind of excuses have you made, currently or in the past, that keep you from writing as you should?

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