Recently, I have been so caught up in the process of editing my writing and changing (and changing and changing) my opening scenes, my opening lines to make my writing more attractive to potential agents, prospective publishers that along the way I completely forgot something very important;
I love to write.
I became so obsessed with how to get published, get my writing noticed, utilise social media to give myself more of an online presence, that even before I’d finish writing anything I was editing it.
Then ultimately deciding it was a great, big ball of shite and hitting the delete button just to begin the fruitless process all over again.
I decided I would need a new project and that my first ‘book’- which was actually a novella because at 40,000 words I’m not entirely sure who I was trying to convince that it was a book – was to be parked and put away for the foreseeable future, until it sparked my interests again, or maybe it never would.
Maybe I should accept that that YA fantasy novel I started nigh on seven years ago is not THE book and move on.
And I did – in a way. I moved on to a new book, something I was so excited about, an adult crime thriller. And for the first 20,000 words I wrote with abandon and enjoyed every minute of it; seeing where the story would take me, learning just what these characters who spoke incessantly in my head were capable of.
And then I stopped. I stopped and foolishly decided to edit the opening. Make it special, make it just right for agents, entice publishers.
This is all a good plan of course if you have, in fact, finished the actual book and are not about 70,000 words away from typing THE END!
And then something awful happened. I got so caught up in writing what I thought everyone else would want and editing the opening that when I went back to carry on with the book – I couldn’t. I was stressing over every line, every scenario, every plot.
Would that really sell?
Do people really want to read that, it’s a bit dark?
Should I really use humour in that situation?
It was as if going back and editing the opening, and constantly thinking about how to get published had caused my inner critic to grow and gain momentum so when I tried to write, to create, I just couldn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I still had logic on my side and out loud I would tell myself to cop on, it’s a first draft. Just write the damn thing – edit later. Do it!!
But it didn’t help, I just sat there and stared at the stupid, flashing cursor who was goading me into typing someone awful, something crap and embarrassing that no one would ever want to read and I wouldn’t give in.
I’d just sit and stare at the little, blinking bastard.
And then I went to a creative writing class in the library. It was free and ran for four weeks, so I figured; what have I got to lose?
But then, when I realised I was a inoperative writer who couldn’t even get a first draft done, I contemplated cancelling – but I didn’t.
I talked myself back into going. I reasoned that the classes are taught by Catherine Ryan Howard, a crime writer whose books I really enjoyed. And since writing in the thriller/crime genre was very much new territory for me I figured it can’t hurt.
And so I went, and I’m incredibly thankful that I did.
It didn’t just ‘not hurt’ – it helped, healed, mended. It was a writing class. And you’ll never guess what we did? Yup, we wrote. And I remembered just how much I love to write. How I love to pull the most random of ideas from the most obscure places and just write. Write, write, write.
The class got me out of my own head and snapped me free from the mentality that writing is just about getting published. Because that’s not what writing’s about. Yes it would be amazing to get published, even if all it means is that you achieve that affirmation from someone that what you’re writing isn’t complete crap, but writing is about writing.
Writing because you love it, because you’ve a passion for it, because the thought of not writing, or never writing again, sounds so absolutely terrifying you’d do anything to make sure you still could.
Who knew that, for me, it would be as easy as a free writing class in the library! 🙂