In the last few weeks, I’ve been focusing more and more on my writing career. Or at least, I’d like to think so, except that career hasn’t happened yet. I spend hours at the computer with the intent to write, and then five hours later realize that I’ve gotten nothing done.
The steps are simple. Hell, there aren’t even steps. It’s a single instruction!
Butt in chair, hands on keyboard.
That’s it. That’s the single most important rule in writing, and I continue to break it. It’s a vicious cycle really. First, I never think I’m good enough to follow through with an entire story. In hindsight, this is a ridiculous statement because nearly all writing sites I’ve seen are very clear in the go-get-shit-done mantra. But how is a mere mortal writer-lady like myself supposed to create anything worthy enough for other people to spend their time reading?
It’s easy for me to obsess over someone else’s work, to praise it, and give the writer an Internet-Five and toss them a metaphorical cookie. Because their work is good, fantastic, epic, (insert more complimentary adjectives here), and it’s just as easy to believe that mine just isn’t.
Now before you start calling me a whiner baby like I rightfully deserve, I swear there’s a point to this. I’m a realist. I get that it isn’t just me, and I’m glad for that. Everyone has to feel like this at some point, where they adore everyone else’s work but their own and find it impossible to be proud of the things they write. There’s a weird sense of camaraderie between writers and their inherent inability to get anything done.
We writers have a community. A really amazing, beautiful way to connect through the internet. But even better than that? Reading each other’s work and understanding complete strangers in a way no one else can. And recently, I’ve realized just how incredible this is, so I want to put things in perspective.
My stories and your stories are huge, megalithic sized beasts in our heads that have to somehow translate onto the keyboard. For that to happen, we need paragraphs, sentences, and words. All of our words in the english language are composed of 26 letters.
Every word, every meaning and symbol we want to convey, we can do it with 26 letters. But that’s not even the part that makes me do a double take and reminds me why I love this profession so much. This might be stating the obvious, but somehow it’s so much better to really think about it and let it sink in.
Just as we use the alphabet to write stories, we first have to create those stories in our head.
We develop worlds and places as real as those we know exist. We create plots, relationships, and people. We can connect with readers and form a deep, meaningful connection without even meeting them. People read our work and laugh, cry, obsess right along with us.
And here’s the kicker–we conjure all of this with our thoughts. Something completely intangible has the power to change the world and affect lives.
When I was a kid, I would read books about wizards, dragons, fairies, and all manner of magical things (still do). Sometimes I’d go outside and pretend I could summon the power of the wind with my voice, or wave around a stick and chant spells. And as we grow up, it’s so easy to think we hang up the wizard’s hat to trade it in with office papers and Grown-Up Stuff.
But you know what?
Writing is magic.
We can conjure whatever the hell we want to, all with the flick of the wrist and a flutter of fingers over the keyboard.
Yikes, and we wonder why we get overwhelmed. We’ve been given a huge amount of power, and maybe somewhere in our subconscious, we feel that responsibility. Writer’s block stems from the fear of criticism, the fear of sharing the product of our sweat and tears, and the idea that we aren’t as good as we think.
So here’s my humble suggestion. I could write: “The yellow bumblebee washes his socks at midnight,” and it’s still something I should be proud of, because those words are mine. That magic I just conjured was my own, and I’m damn well going to be proud of it.
Your story could have plot holes wide enough to drive a semi through, crappy dialogue, purple prose. Maybe it’s a thousands of words long, maybe it’s two sentences. But so long as you’ve got it down from your mind to the page, you’ve created something out of nothing, and that’s truly amazing.