I have this horrific habit of being something of a perfectionist. It’s just part of being a Virgo. While writing I type, delete, type, adjust, delete, type some more, then delete the whole paragraph. It’s a tortuous cycle and lately, it’s the reason my word count hasn’t progressed much and I’ve been in such a writing slump. I focus so much on making every sentence, piece of dialogue, word choice, etc perfect that writing loses all its fun. Back before I cared so much about getting it right and about what other people would think, words poured from my fingertips in a steady stream of not quite brilliance, but at least a solid story. That was before I had the nagging little critic on my shoulder poking me with a stick and saying, “This sucks! You suck! What are you even doing??” He’s not a very nice companion to have while writing. In fact, he’s a real drag.
It makes it so difficult to write when all I can think about is getting it perfect. That’s what revisions, beta-readers, and an editor are for. But when you’re like me (and I know so many of you poor souls are!), if it’s not gold then it’s nothing but a worthless hunk of wasted space. The goal is, of course, to ignore the inner critic and embrace the inner muse. There’s nothing better than getting lost in a scene where the words just flow and the emotion feels so real it’s like you’re there. I live for those moments. I try and find them as often as I can. Sadly, they don’t always happen and I often find myself stuck hammering out ten words in ten minutes in an attempt to create the perfect sentence. Stupid, right? I just want to be free from that blasted critic!
So I think I’m going to try something. The pressures of a NaNoWriMo-style writing goal are a bit too strenuous for me right now, but I have a better idea. I want to write at a minimum 500 words per day. That includes weekends and days when I feel too lazy to think. If I meet the 500 word minimum and feel like stopping, then good. Sometimes the magic just doesn’t happen and that’s fine. But if I hit my stride and feel like hammering out 1,000, 1,500, even 2,000 words, then all the better! This book won’t write itself. I need to let go of the fear of failure and embrace what I love about writing: the escape from reality.
I challenge any of my fellow writers out there who feel like you’re in a slump to join me. 500 words a day is an easy goal for some, and a reasonable goal for the rest of us. But in the end, it’ll give all of us the push we need to at least open that Word document and start typing. Without that motivation, our book will never become anything. And I’d rather have a crappy book I can revise and improve upon than nothing but blank pages. 🙂
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