Are we there yet? I’m tired. Aren’t you?
Even I get discouraged, because I’m a writer and that’s normal for us. There are really high highs from doing what we are doing, but then there are those low, tedious parts during editing and rereading and… ugh. Back in my first draft I thought that writing was hard, even if it was a lot of fun. Now I wish I could go back to the beginning of November and do it all over again.
Because I don’t want to edit. It takes a lot of effort.
Yeah… but we can’t stop. That’s part of the journey of writing, I guess, not letting ourselves stop because when we get to the finish line it will be way more rewarding. And believe me, that’s true. But even though I know that, I’m dragging my heels and kicking my feet at the idea of doing another draft.
Yeah, that’s right. I’m about to start draft three. Draft three and four are going to be the most in depth and difficult for me, so right now all I want to do is read.
So here’s what I’m going to do instead:
Back during NaNoWriMo I wrote a pep talk for myself. Not anything long or difficult. Just about where I hoped to go with the novel I was writing and and why I was writing this story over any other. I wrote a little bit about how great it felt to be writing another novel, a fresh one.
So now, I’m going to read it.
Here’s the thing about pep talks: they work. Even if they have a completely different effect than you intended, they’ll work. If you go to NaNoWriMo’s website, there are tons of pep talks on there from November. I didn’t read half of them because I knew I would need to read them when I felt burnt out on the story.
Pep talks make you think about what you are doing. For me, it’s a way I get the motivation to keep editing. Writing is easy. Writing is the easy part, but editing is where the motivation needs to start kicking in.
I’m at that point where I look back at what I wrote and all I see are the problems with it. Like, I know the story is great. I know that the writing is great. It’s great for me anyway, a personal achievement. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. But I’m at the point where, even though I know all of this, all I can see is all of the work left I have to do to make it better.
So I’m going to read that pep talk, because I wrote it for myself. It was directed at me, by me. The pep talks on NaNoWriMo are great, but this one is personal. That’s right, I’m bringing in the big guns. I’m going to need some major inspiration.
Quick! Watch this inspiring video about writing a book! We need an inspiration boost! Seriously, it’s worth it. Click here
Watched it? Good. I know, I know, it helped me too.
I’m also going to go onto YouTube and go through my usual freak-out-about-editing routine. There are a few authors and writers on YouTube who make genius videos that inspire me and make me want to write more. I’m sure there are hundreds, but like I said, this has become a routine. Like the video I just pointed you to? Yeah, I’ve probably watched that at least a hundred times. Probably more. At least two or three hundred.
I’ve just printed my book out and put it into a binder, all clean and ready to be torn apart word by word. It is beautifully untouched right now. It’s like when you see sand on the beach, where the tide pulled out and left it completely flat and clean. Or right after it snows and there is a nice, even blanket of white covering the grass. You know the feeling, the need to jump in and mess it up.
Yep, I’ve just got to get to that point…
Then again, I have a cold and a headache and finals to study for, so I don’t actually want to do anything at all. (Maybe read, but that’s not going help the headache part of things.) So the fact that I don’t feel like editing might only be subjective. But this could also be a motivation-fallout, which is a major catastrophe, so I need to treat it as such.
My challenge for you is to find ways to motivate yourself. If you are just starting out your story, or are in a good place with your writing, then write yourself a pep talk. Like when people write a letter to themselves in ten years, except this letter will be to yourself when you don’t feel like pushing through. Just write anything… why you’re writing, how happy you are about the story, the crazy feeling of slipping into the characters’ shoes. Anything. When you need it, whatever you wrote is going to help.
Go online. Watch interviews with successful authors. Listen to what they say about writing, and think to yourself about what you want to get out of writing this novel. If you only want fame and fortune, then maybe you should look for something else to do. If you truly love writing, even all of the sucky and miserable parts, then you should keep going. Maybe watch some videos about writing. Look at TED Talks. Listen to slam poetry. Listen to music.
Read a book. Pick something similar to what you are writing, to show yourself what you could be doing instead of reading. Pick something completely different, so you can better appreciate how unique your story is.
Try scheduling it out. Maybe I’m going to write 2000 words a day, but maybe I can’t write on this one day, so I’ll write a little more each day that week to make up for it. Maybe I can write more on Saturdays than during the week. Get a calendar, and put some little goals in those little boxes. Sometimes when I don’t have a schedule to go by, it doesn’t feel important. Or it is just an idea and not being put into action. Sometimes I have to tell myself what to do or else I might just blow it off and go read a book.
You can tell how badly I want to read right now, can’t you? It’s like the books on my shelf are staring at me… pleading… like little puppies at the pound. They’re whispering in my ear while I sleep, “Read me… read me.”
Sorry. That was too dramatic.
Set goals, and reward yourself when you reach them. Maybe even punish yourself if you don’t reach them. Remember, these are achievable and realistic goals. The kind that if you don’t achieve them, then it’s sort of your own fault for being lazy.
During NaNoWriMo, I had a set of rules that I made for myself to live by in order to get 100,000 words written in a month. Don’t watch television, reach the designated word count assigned for each day. There were more. Lots more. If I didn’t reach the word count or I broke any of these rules, I wouldn’t let myself write for a day.
You see, I get distracted easily. If I had managed to fail one of my rules and didn’t write for a day, my entire plan would be careening towards failure. Because I would get stuck on a book series or on the next season of some show on Netflix. Not writing for a day would throw everything out of balance, which is why I felt more obligated to follow my rules. That gave me the motivation to get things done, because I didn’t want to risk my chance of getting myself to get it done.
And if you do reach that word count goal or that next draft or even those next ten pages, give yourself something. I personally have a stash of Laffy Taffy for this reason only. Or maybe just getting something done is all of the reward you need. I want to read really badly right now, so I’m going to edit at least half of the draft before I let myself stop and take a break to read.
And if I choose to keep editing instead? Well that’s awesome. I just got more than I had bargained for.
Try some of these techniques if you start to get discouraged or don’t feel like pushing through. Maybe they will help you like they help me, or maybe you’ll find something even better to help you through them.
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Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!