This is the fifth in a several-part post.
The theme of virtually every article about how to write is straightforward: Just do it. Just find the time to write. Just write! So why don’t we? How can so many women be so morally bankrupt that they can’t take this simple advice?
Here’s what I think: we try to pretend that the advice we are given is really good and the failure lies with all the women who can’t make it work for them. That’s wrong. It doesn’t make any sense. Is it not more logically that the advice we are given is just really bad advice for women writers? In a Paris Review Interview Toni Morrison admits that she has no routine. She says, “I am not able to write regularly. I have never been able to do that—mostly because I have always had a nine-to-five job. I had to write either in between those hours, hurriedly, or spend a lot of weekend and predawn time” (p. 3). This woman gives me hope.
Monday is a good day to start a new writing project. Research, bonafied peer-reviewed research, suggests that we may be more likely to actually follow through with our writing goals, if we start on a Monday rather than another day of the week. Monday signals a new beginning; and a new beginning provides a motivating and meaningful fresh start. Researchers found that this fresh start effect may have a serious impact on our real world behaviors. Essentially we are more empowered and motivated to pursue our goals when we start on a Monday.
“You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page.”
— Annie Proulx. Her short story “Brokeback Mountain” was adapted as the major motion picture released in 2005.
Write in spite of everything and everybody. When it comes to your writing, ignore the dream snatchers. Don’t let someone put a period where God put a comma.
#Mondaygoals #dream #dontstop #keepon #findaway #beintentional #plan #purpose #womanwriter
Writing is a skill you must practice to hone. If you practice badly, eventually you’ll get really, really good at being really, really bad. You get good at writing by practicing the right things, instead of just writing whatever comes into your head. To write well, you have to internalize the basic sound and feel of good writing—which is something you can do by rote copying of excellent writing models.
To do this: pick a writer you admire. Find some of their work, and copy it, either with pen/pencil in your writer’s journal or on the computer. There is evidence that the mechanical act of copying great models is the key to rapid improvement. Plus, it can be a meditative practice, as it asks us to settle in and be present with the words, which I, personally, love.
I took a poetry writing class during my PhD. I was the only student who had never written poetry. The other students? Heck, one of them had been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in poetry! To get the most benefit from the class, I needed to get up to speed, fast! My methodology was simple: For writing practice, I copied the works of great poets. Every day, in my writing journal, on the left hand page, I would copy a poem or if the poem was really long, a passage from it. On the right hand side, I would write my own poem using the same style. By the end of the term, I was writing better poems that some of my class mates, and since then I’ve had a poem published and been an invited reader at two poetry readings. Does the method work? You tell me.
When you didn’t have regular time to give to your writing, let your stories* just be working in your head. You can work out all kind of important elements before sitting down to write. That way, when you started to write you are already deep into your story.
*I’m using this word generically to mean all forms and genres of writing.
Today’s one of those days. It’s filled with self-doubt. All these big feelings of a sense of worthlessness, worry, anxiety. And I’m writing a novel, so I’m dealing with the big question: Who would want to publish this?
There’s plenty of opportunity for self-doubt when you’re a writer. Not only will you doubt yourself, but other people will doubt you, too. I’ve learned that you have to continue writing even when you don’t feel like it. I’ve discovered that stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea.
In the end, self-doubt is just part of the job of being a writer. It pains me to say it, but self-doubt is a completely normal part of being a writer. Award-winning novelist Mindy Halleck, says her grandmother would tell her: “Never let self-doubt drive your car. It rides in the back seat.” Meaning you’ll always have doubts, just don’t let them run the day. Put them at the back of your mind.
Here are three things I remind myself on days like today, to prevent self-doubt from driving the car:
1. Take your eyes off the price and put them on the prize.
2. It takes as much energy to be a non-writer as to be a writer. It’s just a question of where the energy is directed.
3. Self-doubt is just part of the creative process. It doesn’t go away. It sits there. It’s part of the process. So we need to learn to live with that and go forward. Finish your manuscript, publish your book, and get your words out into the world anyway.