I mean it’s really hard.
I’m sitting here right now writing this article to avoid working on my novel. Even though I have 15,000 words due in twelve, yes twelve, days. And yet, here I am, procrastinating, once again, by writing an article to talk to you about how to do the complete opposite of what I’m doing…right now.
First of all, let me introduce my procrastinating self. My name is Caitlin Munch. I currently attend Michigan State University where I’m studying publishing and editing, but will be graduating in May of 2016. YAY. I’m an aspiring novelist who has been working on the same novel for eight years. However, I’m currently working closely with a professor to finish the novel so that I can try to get this whole publishing process rolling.
Anyone that knows me know that I’m obsessed with reading (my mom grounded me one summer because I was being anti-social…who can say that’s happened to them?). I read everything, but I especially love YA novels, especially fantasy, historical, and fiction. I also love to binge watch shows like “The Vampire Diaries” (yes, judge away), “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Outlander.” I love all things Disney, and my dream is to get a puppy. Like tomorrow.
But enough about me.
We are here to talk about writing, and the writing process and why it’s so hard.
Because like I said, it is. And anyone that tells you differently is lying.
That’s not to say that you’re not capable of writing a novel, because you are! It just means that you are going to be challenged in ways that no one will ever begin to understand. Well, except for us fellow writers, of course.
Writing will challenge you. You have to get inside of your characters head. You have to know your setting inside and out, road names, city names, park names. You have to know it all.
And that’s a lot of pressure, because then you start wondering, can I do this? Am I actually capable of creating the next NY Times Bestselling Novel?
Yes you are.
So here’s what you do:
- Avoid distractions. I know it’s not always ideal to have a work space that is completely devoid of all distractions (as I have Facebook and Instagram open…and am answering texts), but sometimes it’s necessary to tell your friends, “Hey, I’m going to write for half an hour then take a break, I’ll text you then.” Then put your phone on “Do Not Disturb.”
- Write it on your calendar. You wouldn’t cancel a doctor’s appointment just because you didn’t feel like going would you? No. So make a writing appointment with yourself. Block off a half hour to an hour of time, every day, every other day, once a week, whatever works for you, and just do it. Write as much as you can. Even if it’s absolute crap. Even if it’s the worst thing you’ve ever written, ever. Which leads me to my next point.
- Don’t delete anything. Well at least, not at first. As writers, we tend to be our own worst critics, which means that what you might think is horrible, and editor might love. Or a beta reader might love. So write and avoid the “delete” button and try to get as much done as you can in the time you’ve allowed yourself. Then reread it, give it to someone else, and see what you think. Even if it’s terrible and you only keep one sentence, well hey, that’s more than you had yesterday isn’t it?
- SHOW UP. That’s the bottom line. You have to show up. When you write, you can’t just put in half the effort and expect a good outcome. You have to be active in your writing. If you’re not passionate and excited about what you’re writing, how can you expect your readers to be excited? So show up. Get excited. And just write.
- Don’t say the word “can’t.” If my editor had a dollar for every time I said the word “can’t” she would be rich. And I mean, RICH. I always say “I just can’t hit that word count,” or “I can’t write, I’m not motivated,” and you know what she says? “Tough. Write anyway.” And while I hate her for it, she has a point. If every time I was unmotivated to do something I chose not to do it…well let’s just say I wouldn’t be quite as successful as I am now. So the question is, “Can I write this?” And the answer is, “Yes. You. Can.” Period.
So let’s get back to this idea of writing and it being hard, because I think you and I know that it is. I think we also know that writing is the easiest thing in the world. It’s who we are. It’s who I am. I never feel more at peace than when I’m sitting typing away on my laptop listening the the music scores from classic Disney Movies. Hakuna Matata. It means no worries.
Go forth and be confident in your abilities as a writer. You can do this. You just have to put in the time and the work. It will be scary. It may make you cry. It may make you binge eat a container of cookie dough (obviously I’m not speaking from personal experience). But at the end of the day, writing can also be the best choice you ever made. So go do it. Be awesome. Be you. Be the writer that you were meant to be.
And I’ll go practice what I preach and work on my novel!
Written by: Caitlin Munch, Michigan State University
Professional Writing Senior