You don’t have to write every day to be a writer. You’re still a writer when you’re between stories, when you haven’t written a word in weeks. That’s okay, and no reason to feel guilty, because guilt just makes it worse. So this is not meant to be another stress factor by telling you that you have to write in order to be a writer (TM). But sometimes, you want to write, you have the time and you have the ideas, but as soon as you sit down and put your fingers to the keyboard, some great incapability overwhelms you and the resistance is too big to push against. When you know what you should do, and want to do, but for some reason don’t manage to do. I found that the following five tricks helped me when I was stuck in those cruel phases, and in times of trouble, I regularly go back to them.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and disheartened when browsing ebook categories and trying to work out the space where your own story fits. *Knowing your market* can easily drift off into *the market is full already there’s no space for me*. Maybe it’s not that important to know the competition, though. Sure, always do your research, but maybe the most important thing amongst it all is just to WRITE YOUR STORY. So, there are 1001 naughty fairy tales out there… but not yours. And if fanfiction taught me one thing, then it is that the thirst for certain tropes never dies. There are countless variations of ONE idea/trope, but all of them are unique, and they all have their readers. So I will not hang my head. There’s a lot of space in the universe.
The key to writing a story is routine. The key to routine is discipline. Discipline is a concept I constantly struggle with. Is it such a surprise then that I constantly struggle with my self-esteem, too, when I fail so much at this most basic concept?
I have my self-doubt so ingrained in me that it’s hard to get past it. My inner critic is constantly telling me that I’m not good enough, that I will never succeed. That I’m a failure, and a disappointment. My inner critic is a filthy liar, though, and maybe I just have to give him the face of someone I despise so as to learn to unhear him. My inner critic is a cold-hearted man with a burning loathing of those living in a world of words and stories. He begrudges them their dreams and thoughts because he never was allowed to follow his dreams, and no one ever thought he could have even one sensitive bone under his pasty skin, no thought beyond what’s sensible and pragmatic. He calls it reality, he calls it truth, but it isn’t. It’s his grudge speaking out of him, his disappointment with himself.
My inner critic wears a familiar face, and I must not trust him. My inner critic is a liar, and I have to emancipate myself from him. I have to learn to believe in myself. And anyway, even discipline can be learned. All it needs is structure and time. I don’t have structure, but I do have enough time to build it.
I developed a bit of a condition here… I’m still on my daily wordcount goal of 300 words, and after I had a bit of a slump, not writing a word for several days, I began to count anything into my wordcount out of sheer despair. Blog posts. Emails. Everything. Then I started a short story that has lingered in my head for a while now, but even this didn’t get the juices flowing. Then I decided to write something that haunted me.
You know how you can develop a so called ship? I didn’t know what this meant until I entered tumblr and somehow slid into the depths of a fandom. Well, I know how it felt to ship a character with another, but I didn’t know there was a whole terminology for it (yes, I googled “OTP” – it means One True Pairing, just for the record). I didn’t know this could happen with my own characters. I mean, sometimes it’s intended to happen (writing romance without a ship is not a good idea), but in my case, it’s not. These two characters can under no circumstances end up in any relationship whatsoever, especially since one of them is the villain (yes, my antagonist is also a villain, happens to the best of us) and the other one is the hero of my story. They’re opposed in insuperable conflict that ends with one of them dead. But I ship them so hard. So I decided to give me some writing practice and write my own fanfiction. Let them get hot and steamy with each other without any intention of ever – ever – including it in the book (let alone let it see the light of day). Without any intention of even fitting it into the story.
And suddenly, I write 3000 instead of 300 words a day. Might be that this is without merit, since it’s written with the specific premise of never seeing a printing press. Perhaps I waste my days. But I don’t think so. It gets my creative mojo flowing, and I try to incorporate some writing exercises. I think it’s not the what you write everyday that is important, but the that you write everyday. (Uh, sorry for any deadly grammatical sins I committed here). The more words you produce, the more likely it is there are some gems among them. And if not, it’s still easier to work with already written words than to produce brilliance from scratch.
And it helps me to free my head from any haunting shipper feels that could invade my story. They’re all packed up now, neat and tidy, in their own folder. And hey, if you never write just for your own fun, why you’re doing this at all? Yes, being a writer includes seeing writing as your job, but what good is it if you have absolutely no fun in your job? Right, you’re likely going to quit or develop a serious stress disorder.
So, have fun, stay positive and write your own fanfiction.
Oh, seriously. Day 3 of CampNaNoWriMo and I’m already out of motivation. Ok, perhaps it’s the lack of sleep (I drifted off around four in the morning). I know perfectly well what I want to write, what I need to write, I just don’t want to…you know what. Maybe it’s only today and tomorrow, everything will be perfectly fine. Maybe later today, I’ll find my motivation. But right now… I’m not going to fall off the wagon. I just want a break. And I have to accept that it’s perfectly fine to have a day like this. To give myself some rest. Beating myself up won’t change anything. It’ll only increase my inner resistance. That still small voice is allowed to shut up for a change. I just have to make sure to resume writing tomorrow.