Write Like You’re Running Out of Time
Because you are.
I came across two good motivational articles this week, both encouraging writers to do more of that thing that they seem to hate doing more than anything else: write.
Not me. I love writing. I wish I could write all day, every day. It’s not always easy, I don’t always know the right choice to make, and I don’t always get good results, but I never hate it. I never bitch about it, I never suggest that my creativity is anything less than a blessing and a gift.
Awhile back, I accidentally said something insightful to my therapist.
“I’m me when I write. I am most myself when I’m writing.”
Don’t know what that signifies, and I don’t care. I burped that out in the middle of a rant about something completely unrelated, and it caught us both short. Definitely a statement that demanded attention, which we gave it. I don’t like to examine it too closely, though. I have a tendency to over-think, so scrutinizing one of the few things in life that brings me unconditional joy seems unwise. Better to embrace and cherish it. I have no need to understand where it comes from.
But if you’re one of those writers who struggles with it – even when you love it – and you find yourself holding back or – worse! – dreading your writing time, a couple of recent articles had some good advice.
On his blog, Steven Pressfield shared advice that might help you get started when you feel stuck or unmotivated or even unworthy or unable.
When you sit down, place your fingers on your keyboard or pen, and say to yourself “And the bad version is … “ and then start to work. You can do that. You can write the crap version of whatever idea is in your head, and believe me – the crap version is better than no version. As someone wise once said: You can rewrite a bad draft. You can’t rewrite a blank page.
Another good article has advice for training yourself as a writer, so that you get stuck less and maybe write crap versions that are less crappy.
In a post on the BookBaby blog, C. Hope Clark says you don’t have to wait for your anointed writing time to write. While it’s great to have a dedicated time, you can use that time more efficiently if you train yourself to write all day. Clark suggests writing in snippets – jotting down ideas the moment you have them, in between emails or while you’re on hold before a conference call. Resist the urge to doom-scroll your social media when you’re bored, and write a few lines instead. When you reach your dedicated writing time, you’ll have filled in gaps or given yourself ideas for your next scene or story. You might even hit your daily word count before you start. Now, that’s motivating!
Clark also says that the more you write, the more you’ll write. You’ll want to write more and more often. You’ll reclaim time from other tasks or hobbies that might start to seem less important. And the work will come more easily. A lot of writers don’t like to hear this, but creativity is a spigot. The wider you open it and the longer you leave it run, the more you’ll get in return.
If you needed this advice today, I hope it helped.
BookBaby: Train Yourself to Be a Writer
Steven Pressfield: And the Bad Version Is…