Now Brewing: Green Mountain Coffee’s Wild Mountain Blueberry: a sweet taste of “juicy sun-kissed blueberries”. This is my favorite cup to let brew on a warm morning. It smells just like the fresh blueberries of a summer fruit salad or on top of a stack of buttery waffles. This coffee makes mornings taste sweet, every time.
Today is one of the days a writer dreads. The kind of day when there is a giant gap in your day which serves as a perfect opening to get some writing done. It’s the perfect opportunity for the cursor on my laptop to mock at me, “Write something. Come on, don’t just sit there.” With every blink of the cursor on the screen another “Write!”
Write. Write. Write.
My mind however is in many other places. I can’t seem to focus on writing, as much as the cursor begs me to. It’s just one of those days.
Sarah Dessen, author of In Her Shoes, Someone Like You, and many other young adult fiction novels, describes these days perfectly:
“Some days, I have to count my progress in paragraphs, not pages. Some, it is just sentences. But at least I got something done.”
It’s acknowledging that even adding a few descriptive, clarifying sentences that will make the book better, is just as important as a seven or ten page day or a great editing day. Progress is progress. Writing because I want to is one of the best feelings in the world–and that brings me to Jennifer Weiner‘s fifth tip “For Writers“ “Write to Please Yourself.”
In this tip, Weiner speaks to the actual novel-writing aspect of the timeline. Instead of focusing on writing what could possibly, maybe one day get published, Weiner urges aspiring writers to:
“Tell the story that’s been growing in your heart, the characters you can’t keep out of your head, the tale that speaks to you, that pops into your head during your daily commute, that wakes you up in the morning”
and worry about how to sell it and get it published later. I’ve heard that it’s important to “write what you know,” because it gives you the inside look into your characters, your content, and gives you the knowledge of how to make that work for you. Writing about something that makes your heart pump, or something that interests you is also easier. Writing because you like to do it won’t seem like a chore or just another task on the to do list. My characters, although influenced somewhat by some of my own reality, are my creation. Their stories, their triumphs, laughter, tears, and heartbreaks are what push me forward in the novel. Their stories are what fill my head when I lie down to go to sleep–and sometimes, they’re even inhabitants in my dreams.
Their stories and where they’re going excite me. Sometimes, I even like my characters better than the people I know in real life. That sounds bad but it’s okay, I’m an author.
Writing Second Shots is about writing to please myself. It’s rough at times, especially on those days; but when I have a great seven or twelve page day or when a character’s story finally clicks or someone says something funny or sad or just perfect, it’s totally worth it.
Writing is something a cannot live without, because like Weiner says, “A writer writes.” It’s not about how much I get done. Although I admit, when I do have a good day, I like to brag about it. It’s about writing–the writing that one day is going to make Second Shots come together and I’ll be able to sit back and laugh at how hard those days felt. And then I’ll start writing again because a writer writes.
Jodi Picoult, author of many well-known titles, like My Sister’s Keeper and Nineteen Minutes, says that many people have a novel brewing inside, but don’t ever write it down. She writes that:
“Writing is grunt work – you need to have self-motivation, perseverance, and faith… talent is the smallest part of it.”
Writing is all of that. You need perserverance to get through those days and the many road blocks ahead. You need the self-motivation to get writing when you’d rather go out for dinner or watch a movie with your friends. Most of all you need the faith that you can do it, and that you’re doing it well. Picoult asks aspiring writers,
“If you don’t believe in yourself, and you don’t have the fortitude to make that dream happen, why should the hotshots in the publishing world take a chance on you?”
Having the faith that Second Shots can make it and will make it, is a big part of writing. Even when I’m writing a section or a character that I think it worthless or junk, I keep it…because I’ve learned from experience that when I go back and read it later, I normally like what I read. It doesn’t matter whether that great piece of dialogue or that awesome character break was written in fifteen minutes before class or during a day full of writing–if it’s written, it’s progress. It doesn’t matter if it was one of those days or a really good day. Picoult also says she doesn’t believe in writer’s block because she once didn’t have the time to not be writing when she had the chance. She says,
“When you only have twenty minutes, you write – whether it’s garbage, or it’s good… you just DO it, and you fix it later.”
Twenty minutes or twenty four hours–writing is progress. Progress that Second Shots needs, and I’m not going to waste any more of it.
See you soon,
Kathryn E. Weast