As we continue down this harrowing journey of becoming established writers, I can say wholeheartedly that we may be holding ourselves back. Whether it’s being too scared to share our craft in fear of being criticized, or not having the creative capacity to write while juggling a full-load of classes, something is obstructing our writing paths.
While the previous two issues are valid, there’s one far more common problem that weaves itself in seamlessly: Not writing on a consistent basis. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is, but I and many other writers I’ve met commit the same offense of not being consistent. If it’s so simple, why do we often neglect this part of our regimen?
I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, I’m not always in the mood to write. I’m either tired, too “busy,” or not inspired. There’s only so many hours in the day and most of our time gets chewed up without a second thought. While important, all of these excuses are only kiddie-pool deep.
Identifying the problem
When I was a kid, I played a good deal of sports and video games. I used to become obsessed and play every day to improve. And what happened? After a consistent routine, I got better. That simple.
I was at odds with my writing for some time. As a new writer, I didn’t know my voice or what I wanted to write about. To top it off, I didn’t know how to get better. My brain wasn’t turned on. How could I not apply the same concept from my younger days to the pen (or keyboard)?
Attacking the problem
After coming to terms with my writing, I created a plan. I would write at least five times a week and since I was in a creative writing program, that should be easy, right? Wrong.
The inspiration didn’t flow. I had a head full of imagination, but nothing translated to paper. The wall in-front of me grew and became more intimidating and eventually, it pushed me into a corner.
But like a determined animal fighting for its life (dramatic, I know) I forced myself to write. I woke up early around six or seven in the morning and I would crank out a story. If I had a hard time waking up or had another commitment, I blocked out a time in between classes or in the evening to get it done. Even if it was just a page, it was something. I took writing prompts from various books and social media accounts and proceeded to my notebook.
Before I knew it, I saw improvements in my writing. My flow became smoother, my focus sharpened, and I ruthlessly cut the fluff from my stories. Eureka! I struck gold.
Learning from the problem
Who wakes up wanting to write each day? Not most writers I know, and not me. But if you neglect your craft, one missed day turns into a week and a few weeks into a month. That’s the problem with not staying on schedule. Your plan falls by the wayside.
The hardest part is to constantly show up. You can’t refine your craft without hundreds of repetitions. You’re not going to want to write some days, but you must pull through. You won’t see improvements immediately, but you will down the road. Think of your schedule and work as an investment that you’ll cash later.
I’m not saying I’m a perfect writer or that I’m good by anyone’s standards. There’s much I have to work on, and it will take a lifetime to be where I want to. Still, I’m steadily improving, and I am proud of myself for that.
Grind it out and bet on yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
This is inspiring Jameson! Exercise, then write!