I’ve been going around in circles for months trying to squeeze every nuance of plot and character development, creating new folklore, and recapping the previous book to the point where I forgot what I was writing about. It happens sometimes and when it does, that key ingredient that makes writing fun begins to die. But just like everything else in life, the writing process is a lesson. Coming out of that fire unburned yet reeking of smoke, I began to evaluate what I’ve learned.
1) Get a life. No, really. True, writing is a big part of my life, but it’s not the end-all-be-all of my existence. I’ve ignored friends, cussed out family members, been a crappy girlfriend, and pissed off my cat all for the sake of a few pages of dialogue that I may not even use. The best inspiration for characterization and dialogue is spending time with other people, so burning that bridge is not a good idea for a writer. So I need to get out more, socialize, and have new adventures to write about. Not writing for three days straight will not kill me and staring at a blank computer screen for six hours is not going to make words appear.
2) It’s not that f***ing serious. As a perfectionist, I want to create the best piece of work I can. Though people have said my stories are smart and entertaining, I’m not trying to break any ground and win a bunch of academic awards either. I don’t see any of my books as mandatory reading material for AP English classes for future generations. I don’t write for that.
Stephenie Meyer was once quoted saying, “I write for myself.” As much as it pains me to say it—and trust me, it does—she has a point. The reason why anyone puts words to paper is to express something in themselves. Ideas, past experiences, wacky dreams, social awareness, and philosophies are deposited to text as a creative outlet. It’s almost spiritual and it’s the very foundation of writing. All the editing, themes, and audience-pleasing comes secondary.
Somewhere long the way, I lost that, getting caught up in what others might think, competing with other authors, and trying to outdo my own work. Where is the fun in that? As reclusive and antisocial as I was, a whole lot of people where in my ear, influencing how I put down words. In short, I was letting in the wrong people, and shutting out the right.
So here I am, geared up with newfound wisdom, trying to get back to basics, and remembering what made me love what I do. It’s a process that will take a while to get through, but I will make a point to bring those closest to me along for the journey. Including you.