How to Like What You Write
At least the first time you write it
I’ve been doing some writing lately, and I’ve been having the BEST time doing it. I have never had so much fun writing anything in my entire life. And, with the enthusiasm of the newly converted and the confidence of a Taurus/Capricorn/Leo, I’m going to tell you how I think I got to this point.
The other long-form things I’ve been working on have not worked. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I know expressly why some things didn’t work, others I can intuit, but bottom line those books didn’t get me where I wanted to go. I have processed my feelings about this, and while I wish things had gone differently for some of those books (maybe not all of them lol), it is what it is and there’s nothing I can do about it except move forward. I still have all I learned in writing those books—which is a LOT—and that will be with me forever.
I Stopped Caring
It’s not that I stopped caring about writing or being published (or not) but I stopped trying to anticipate if anyone is going to like what I’m writing, at least for now. I don’t know if my agent will like it! I don’t know if any other readers will like it! But fuck it, I want to write it so I’m writing it. I have the absolutely luxury of doing this because I have another job, because I already have an agent, and because I have seen this work so often with other writers that I’m saved from the anxiety (a little) that always accompanies this idgaf attitude. I am not immune from a crisis of faith in my writing. I’m just more practiced at going ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and carrying on. How will I know if anyone will like it before I’ve even written the damn thing anyway?
I Can Fix It Later! Really! It’s ok!
Which leads me to my newest revelation: just write it down now! You can fix it later! Truly and honestly, you can fix it later. Do you know how many TKs are in my book right now? (TK is copyediting shorthand for I’ll fill it in later) Instead of trying figure out what day of the week it is in my book, it literally says “TK weekday.” I was in the middle of a scene when I realized one of the characters in it couldn’t physically be there at that time, so I deleted his name and wrote “TK some other guy” and kept going! I liked the scene! I’ll figure out that TK later! Or I will cut it! The words exist now, which means they can be edited, refined, deleted, kept. You’re going to edit your book five thousand times; you won’t notice one more. And for those of you who worry that’s going to add time to an already long and arduous process, well, I say that if it gets you to The End faster, even if you have to go back to all those TK’s, you’re that much better off.
I’m Not in a Rush
I know how long this is all going to take. I can conceivably have a complete draft of this thing by the end of the year. I know it’ll take longer because it always does. It’ll then take me many more months to edit it a few times. I want to be done now! But I know I can’t, so all I can do is sit back and work and let it take the time it needs to take. I’m not on deadline, and if I was I might be in more of a rush, but it still takes the time it takes.
I’m Writing More Often
Yes, it’s November and NaNoWriMo and there’s a lot more word count and #amwriting chatter in my Twitter feed. That helps, because it reminds me to work on it. BUT ALSO, all the above make it more FUN and thus I WANT to do it, which is one thousand million times better than doing it when I do not want to do it. It’s not easier, trust me. I still sit down and look at the document and think fuck ugh I don’t wanna. But that’s only a moment, or a few moments, and I realize the stakes are much lower (for this draft) and it doesn’t have to be perfect and I can do whatever I want and then BOOM, I’m off and it’s 3,000 words later.
What happens after I’m done with this draft, and the next and the next and the next, is out of my hands, in many ways. There is no way to account for where the market will be in X months when I’m done. There is no way to account for what other books will be out there when I’m done. There is no way to account for that other people will think of it stylistically, or thematically, or whatever other metric by which they want to measure it. I can account for what I think of it, and the experience I had while writing it, and if those two things meet in a positive way at the end, then great. If not, I will write another book. You can write another book, I promise. It’s not easy. But it’s yours.