I’ve been keeping a daily journal for about ten years (it was sporadic before that, starting with a diary someone gave me when I was six). As an only child, I’m not concerned with anyone seeing my writing without my permission. So I’ve slowly become more and more brutally honest.
I’ve been posting “regularly” on this blog for about two years now. Keeping an honest account of my life in a place where strangers can see it has been a strange journey for me. I have never thought, and still don’t really think, my life is exciting. What even happens to me? I read. I watch soul-shredding TV shows. I crochet through movies and radio theater.
And yet people read what I write.
I joined a writing group, where people became emotionally attached to my fictional humans. They’re invested in the plot and they want more. But I hit the mid-point climax and there’s a massive timeskip and now I’m stuck. And I don’t write well under pressure.
So what do I do? I saw somewhere that being a writer is 99% not getting distracted by the Internet. For me, that’s mostly Pinterest. Pinterest has the illusion of productivity, because I have character inspiration boards and story prompt boards and literal storyboards. But I’m not writing.
This has been going on for most of this summer. And I can’t even replenish my creativity by reading. I thought it was just the book I was reading (I’ve been struggling through The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman since the beginning of June), but I realized today that last year it was The Infernal Devices. I think maybe I just can’t read in the summer.
So I Pinterest.
On the last day of May, I started working on a new story. It wasn’t something I expected to go anywhere with. It’s still not something I intend to get published. But a little over two months in, I’m at forty thousand words, and I’ve barely worked on it in the last two weeks. Thirty-five thousand words in six weeks. I can churn out fanfiction really quickly, but since my book takes so much more time, I just assumed that “serious” writing is slow.
Then I started this project. And it took on a life of its own and I can’t stop writing it because the characters won’t stop talking to me. And that’s such a nice change, I decided to take a break from my novel until I know where I’m going with it.
That sounds bad, doesn’t it? But writing is writing is writing. You only fail to be a writer if you stop writing. Every word you write, even if it’s not a word to publish, is a word of practice, one more word toward honing your skill as a writer. And that’s not a bad thing. Because aren’t we all curious about Rembrandt’s first sketches or Poe’s rough drafts?