I may have gone a little mental, or maybe my inner coach is simply feeling inspired this nano season.
I didn’t write Finish the Damn Book! on a quick whim. The original post that eventually turned into that book was written on a whim. I don’t remember all of the details now, a year and a half later, but I do remember reading a bunch of whiny blog posts, Quora questions, and Yahoo! Answers nonsense prior to scribbling it down.
The night that I wrote that blog post felt a lot like tonight. I didn’t do it to intimidate, or even to motivate. I wrote it because the voices in MY head were reaching the breaking point. We all know that voice. The one telling you it’s too hard, or that you have other shit to do. The voice telling you that 1000 words is enough, even though you have another 2-3 hours of free time before sleep. The voice that undercuts artistic success at every possible avenue.
In ten years of working at this, from the first finished manuscript to three published novellas that bombed on me before I turned them into a novel after a rights reversion, the journey through one divorce, quitting my job to take up full-time writing, and then quitting that to focus on building my property up with a day-job in the background to study the ins and outs of the human condition (clerking gives a unique outlook on people).
Through my journey, I’ve heard it all, because I’ve told it all to myself. I’ve had people call my work shit to my online “face,” I’ve accumulated hundreds of rejection letters, I’ve quit nightly writing sessions, first drafts, and even finished manuscripts because I lost hope in them. I’ve launched books to crickets, cut ties with my old publisher, and driven myself mad with figuring out the best way to find my readers, even if I had to do it one soul at a time. And I have something to say to each of those nagging questions and phrases.
These are the voices you will hear, and how to respond to them:
You don’t need to write tonight, you’ve done enough.
The only proper response to this is “fuck you.” Then sit down and write more. Pour your soul into your work, and keep the story moving.
I don’t know what to write next in the story.
Describe the current scene. Let the main character take the reigns for a bit, and follow her around describing what she’s seeing and thinking. Keep that next bullet point in your outline close, and focus on getting from here to there. 2000 wasted words to get you back on track is worth every letter. Just don’t stop.
It’s writers block, it happens.
It happens to people who are afraid to do the hard work. Write one sentence. Just one. Then write another.
I’m waiting for inspiration.
Inspiration shows up after you start working. If you aren’t doing the work, she doesn’t show up, and neither does Fortune. Those muses will continue to elude you because they are busy with other people who are forging their own way. You find inspiration by writing (drawing, sculpting, plucking strings, apply your own artistic equivalent here).
Drawing a blank.
Turn everything off. Open your document or bust out your typewriter, and put your fingers physically on the keys. Do not move them unless it’s to type. You would be amazed how well this works. In the words of a Nike ad, “Just do it!”
We each get 24 hours every day. I wrote my first novel draft in ~50 days while working AT LEAST 13 hours per day on an offshore installation without weekends or days off. Parents make time for their kids, lovers make time for each other, artists make time for their art. Write up a budget of how you spend every minute of your day. 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for work, and 2 hours for commuting still leaves SIX HOURS. How you CHOOSE to spend it is up to you.
That doesn’t include weekends when you might have the whole day at your disposal.
I can make up for lost time later
Famous last words. If you don’t develop a habit, it’s 100 times harder to get the job done! How many things have you quit in life simply because one day was put off? Doing it once starts a detrimental cycle that will kill your momentum, and you’ll put off more days.
If there’s one thing to truly fear about creating an involved product, it should be the fear of slack. Slack can only happen if you let it. Get at least one sentence written per day, and you can pretty well prevent this.
This story isn’t good enough
Want to know a secret? None of them are good enough. They’re all shit, the first time around. So write that shit. Once you have a finished draft in your hands, you’ll know what needs to be done to start fixing it. It’s called a content edit, and it’s totally normal, so quit making excuses and keep writing.
Did I forget anything?
P.S. “Writers Block” is bullshit.
Get inspired, get motivated, and light a fire under your own ass this November, because nobody else is going to. If you sign up for #NaNoInspo then I can help you along with inspirational posts, tips, and blog articles all month. Online Writing Log can help you track your progress. Finish the Damn Book! can give you some quick inspirational spurts (chapters one through seven in particular). But in the end, it’s up to you. May Fortune smile on your efforts.