Write Now, Fill In the Blanks Later

If you have to wonder if you should worry about it, you probably shouldn’t worry about it.

I’m currently 30,000 words into a story that has an embarrassing amount of “plot holes.”

Technically you can’t call something in a story a plot hole if you haven’t even finished writing the story yet. But the point is, there are missing pieces. Broken connections. Things about my characters and their backstories I don’t quite understand yet.

Yet, despite all the uncertainty I face each time I sit down to work on this story — is it a stand-alone book? Part of a series? Is it even a book at all? I don’t even know! — I just keep writing anyway.

Because here’s the truth most aspiring writers don’t want to hear: The only way to figure out how to make a story work is by writing a complete story. Even if it turns out a total mess.

Here’s why.

Continue reading “Write Now, Fill In the Blanks Later”

Writers: Your Day Job Doesn’t Have to Rule Your Life

This is a tough lesson to learn, but a worthwhile one.

You might think it does. But it doesn’t.

Growing up, the vast majority of us were probably told that getting an education, finding a stable, well-paying job, and starting a family were the most important things we could do for ourselves.

It’s not that these things don’t or can’t have value. The problem is that some people — such as creative people who would rather tell stories on paper than climb the corporate ladder or whatever — don’t always end up with a stable job they stick with for years on end.

When a full-time job becomes a “day job” — something you do while the sun is up so you can afford to eat and stay warm in the winter and buy more books, you know, all the priorities — there comes a point when you have to decide how much of your energy you can dedicate to that job and how much you have to reserve for your side projects.

You might genuinely care about your day job and want to do good work. There is no rule that says you can’t excel as an employee and work toward building a successful writing career when you clock out and go home.

But sometimes, our employers demand a lot from us. And while your day job may be extremely important — especially when it comes to the financial aspect of the 40+ hour work week.

When the pressures of having a day job while also being a working aspiring writer start to get you down, you know what you gotta do? Here are a few things that have worked for me. Hopefully they will help you, too. Continue reading “Writers: Your Day Job Doesn’t Have to Rule Your Life”

A Writer Never Stops Playing Pretend

Don’t ever stop pretending.

Children are not ashamed of playing make-believe. If it weren’t for those telling them it’s not socially acceptable to shamelessly promote their imaginations, they might never stop.

Maybe in some ways, we still never really do.

Writers make up stories. This is obvious — every story you have ever told has had some element of fiction added to it even if it was unnoticeably small. It is the job of a writer to pretend.

So the problem many adults have who dive into writing for the first time — or the first time in a long time, depending — is that they often have to re-train themselves to become comfortable with playing pretend.

For a long time, I was afraid to take my stories to their highest potential because I didn’t want them to be “too big.” Through no real fault of anyone in particular, I grew up being told to tone down my ideas, my excitement, my curiosity. “That will never happen” is a phrase I heard so often I just learned to believe it.

But the more I got into writing stories — it seemed to be the only thing I was ever good at, and became the only career path anyone ever encouraged me to pursue — the more I realized that if I wanted to be the best writer I could be, I needed to trust my imagination and set my big ideas free.

This started off small, of course. But that, it turns out, is how we grow.

Continue reading “A Writer Never Stops Playing Pretend”

I Accidentally Created An Alter Ego to Help Me Stay Positive About My Writing Struggles

Readers, meet Greg.

I can pretty much guarantee that exactly one person on this planet remembers my evil twin Greg, and that one person is — yep, you guessed it — me.

Back in 2009, I pretty much used this blog to not only talk about my writing life and provide some form of public accountability for myself, but also to — and I’m being completely open and honest here — completely mess around and find my “voice” as an aspiring writer.

This involved plenty of weird things, which you can still technically find here if you go all the way back to the beginning of this blog in the archives. (I’m not sure if you actually can, but I can, and these posts are still very much public, and I am very much not ashamed of them.)

One of the very strange — but surprisingly extremely effective — products of this time in my blogging history was the creation of Greg.

Continue reading “I Accidentally Created An Alter Ego to Help Me Stay Positive About My Writing Struggles”

12 Keys to Successfully Returning From a Writing Hiatus

Welcome back!

1. Remind yourself why you started writing in the first place and why you took a break. Ask yourself why you’re ready to return and how to know when it will be time to take another hiatus in the future.

2. Choose one project you want to start working on when you get back. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with too many possibilities, especially if you’re not even close to starting yet.

3. Set a return date. Instead of saying “I’ll start writing again next week,” pick a date that you can mark on your calendar. That is your first day back “in the office.” Stick to it.

4. On that date, show up and write. You can show up in your sweatpants. You can show up with messy hair. You can show up with an incomplete idea. You can show up uncertain. All that matters is that you show up.

Continue reading “12 Keys to Successfully Returning From a Writing Hiatus”

I Almost Quit Writing My Book. A Week Later, I Finished It.

You can do this.

I will never forget the night I almost gave up on my novel.

I was very close to finishing this thing, and I knew it. But in all honesty … I was worn out. Exhausted. I was so sick of looking at it that I convinced myself I would not feel bad if I closed out the document it lived inside and never bothered to open it again.

I’m not sure exactly what prompted me to put my head down and finish the thing. Part of me — the very stubborn part — knew I couldn’t just give up. I had put all this work into this project and had spent countless hours and questionable nights of sleep working toward this goal, sprinting toward this finish line.

As much as I so desperately longed to give it up, to “throw in the towel” and move on, as they say (do they still say that?), I did not quit. I decided that I would keep writing, little by little, whatever it took, until the first draft of the book was done.

I figured it would take a few months of stopping and starting, of kicking and screaming the whole way. But I assumed this very, very wrong. Because a week after I almost gave up, I finished.

There’s a lot to learn from this experience. Even for me.

Continue reading “I Almost Quit Writing My Book. A Week Later, I Finished It.”

How to Write When You Don’t Feel Like Writing

It CAN be done.

So. It’s time to write, and you REALLY don’t feel like doing it.

You might find yourself at war with your creativity — you WANT to want to write, but you just can’t quite get there. Should you, or shouldn’t you?

Some are all for the concept of “just writing anyway” even when you would rather not. Others are fully and passionately against it.

So let’s get right to the meat of this post, shall we? If you need to get something written — you’re on deadline, you’re behind schedule, whatever your reason — it’s not going to be an easy thing to do if you’re lacking the motivation to get it done.

But that does not mean it’s not still possible.

What do you do when you have to write but don’t want to write — or when you know you SHOULD write but would rather not? Here are my suggestions.

Continue reading “How to Write When You Don’t Feel Like Writing”

Is It a Good Idea to Write When You Don’t ‘Feel Like’ Writing?

Don’t feel like writing? You’re not alone.

I get it. I really do. You want everything you write to be as close to perfect as you can make it.

When we read things other people have written, they’re often polished, shiny, and sometimes completely error free. That’s what we’re used to seeing. So when we sit down to write our own things, we start to feel stuck when we realize what we’re writing isn’t polished or shiny … not even close.

And when you start to feel discouraged with a task, it’s hard to continue. Eventually, it gets to the point where it’s even hard to start. You’re feeling sad, so you don’t write. You’re frustrated, so you don’t write. The smallest thing could go wrong on a Monday and nope, you’re just not going to bother writing.

I used to have this approach to writing, too. I used to refuse to write unless I was in a “good writing mood.” I couldn’t write in the morning because I was “too tired.” I couldn’t write late at night because I “wasn’t a night person.” I got “too sad” to write. If I sat down to write and something interrupted me, I would just give up and not even try to get back to it later.

As you can probably guess, this resulted in me not getting a ton of writing done over the course of a year. I was so worried about writing everything perfectly the first time that if circumstances didn’t promise I could do my best work, I just couldn’t personally justify trying to do the work at all.

Many writers have fought me on the idea that you should #JustWriteAnyway instead of waiting until you’re inspired or “in a good mood.” Of course you’re allowed to have your own opinion — this is the internet, after all. So I’m going to share mine, and how writing even when I don’t want to write has changed my life for the better.

Continue reading “Is It a Good Idea to Write When You Don’t ‘Feel Like’ Writing?”

How to Manage Your Time Better As a Writer: A Quick Guide

Time management tips for writers, from a writer who is slowly losing her sanity.

Are you a writer? Do you struggle with time management?

Here’s a better question: Do you feel like you aren’t making the time to write, even though you know you technically could, and you’re so frustrated by this knowledge that you’ve started seeking Google, Fixer Of All Problems, for the solutions to your woes?

I may not be a published novelist or make money blogging or be considered a writing “expert.” But I have officially written almost 700,000 words so far in 2019, out of a target 1 million, and GOSH DARN IT FELLOW WRITERS DO I HAVE SOME TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR YOUR DESPERATE EYES.

Enjoy.

Continue reading “How to Manage Your Time Better As a Writer: A Quick Guide”

Writing Isn’t the Hardest Part About Being a Writer

WHY IS THIS SO DIFFICULT.

Writing is not as hard as it so often seems.

Calm down, calm down. I’m talking about a very specific kind of writing here. The physical element of it. The part of writing that involves you pounding your fingers into a keyboard and watching words come out. The part that requires you to take a story you’re in the process of making up and actually work your way up to telling it from beginning to end.

Compared to the rest of it, this part’s easy.

Don’t get me wrong: Writing is hard. Taking a story that’s trapped in your head and figuring out how to get it out and put it onto paper in strands of sentences that make sense outside your brain is a huge challenge. It takes a lot of practice and many years to learn how to write a good story. We all struggle with different parts of it in our own way. Yes — we ALL struggle.

Some people struggle so much that they end up quitting before they have the chance to learn what they need to know in order to accomplish their biggest writing goals.

The truth, however, is that writing itself — putting words onto a page — isn’t the most challenging part of being a writer, nor is it the biggest reason aspiring writers quit.

All writers write. But BEING a writer — that is the biggest obstacle of all. Here’s why.

Continue reading “Writing Isn’t the Hardest Part About Being a Writer”