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Only the start

July 25, 2012

I love learning new things. That being said, I am not always the best student. I have been fortunate that many things come rather easy to me. I can usually pick things up fairly quickly, which is great. That is until I don’t get along as quickly as I would like or as easily as I expect. I have been a native English speaker all my life (okay the year or so at the beginning can’t really be taken into account.) I can communicate with my fellow human beings fairly well and I do so on a regular basis. I have graduated college with a degree in the humanities, which means I wrote, a lot. Countless papers, essays, tests, synopsis. You would think after this long and this much writing that I would be able to get on with this whole writing thing fairly easy. That is where you and I are wrong. Dudes, this writing thing is hard. (To clarify I knew it would be difficult going into it, I know it is meant to be difficult, it is a job) It’s hard to focus the creativity, it’s hard to keep myself writing everyday. It’s hard to know that no matter my talent or previous experience, I am still very new to the whole writing thing.

Lately my biggest hurdle has been trying to overcome my trepidation about writing. It’s easy to get distracted, (amazing how suddenly laundry becomes appealing when you have been staring at a blank word doc for a while.) It’s easy to get discouraged, (cue the unintentional (or not) comments from family and friends and the decreased self-esteem.) To feel overwhelmed, to grow fearful and to just put it off in favor of something else. I have read blogs, books, magazines, articles and websites trying to figure out the best way to overcome or at least do battle against some if not all of these issues.

One unifying theme has been the command to write. Write everyday. Even if it is only a small amount, write something, anything just write. I have been trying to follow this advice. One way has been via the blog, although lately it’s seemed to be more of a struggle to post. There is pressure, to write on topics that engage my readers, on things that will draw new people in. The pressure may be self-imposed but it doesn’t make it any easier to shake. Another way I have been trying to follow that advice is do something called a writing sprint. Just as with running it is a short distance (or amount of time) and the purpose is to increase your speed (or distance, or word count.) I have been doing for a while now and they haven’t always been easy.

To do the writing sprint, I usually do one of two things. I either set a timer for x number of minutes and just open a word document. Press start and write. I write on whatever comes to mind. After the first two I started getting in the habit of starting or writing a piece of a story. It may just be a small scene or some dialogue but I write. When the timer goes off I save the document and take a short break. I might go back to writing or I might get distracted answering emails (or by laundry) but I will have written for a while at least. My other writing sprint consists of hitting a word count. There are numerous ways to go about this. Sometimes I open a word document and will write a few paragraphs and then check the word count. Other times I  use a website that let’s you type as it keeps count.

In both versions of the sprints I aim to write. To get the creativity going and just get my mind centered on the task of writing. It hasn’t been easy. The writing has gotten better (marginally) and my focus has improved, but it still doesn’t mean I have mastered this whole author thing. In fact I am just beginning.

  1. Hi there! 😀
    I know exactly what your problem is, because I am suffering from the same. My only advice: Don’t fret yourself!
    In my opinion, you have made the best decision by writing every day. I write morning pages (I don’t know whether you’d like that, but I’m pretty sure you know the concept, right?), twenty minutes per day, and although there ARE days when I don’t want to write, because I feel like “there’s nothing worth spending to pages for”, I still do it. Reading old entries has helped me a lot; not only with my writing, but also with self-confidence, taking care of myself, learning what I want, what’s important to me … blahblah. 😉

    I know what it’s like if you gave your work one of your friends to read and then the only comment is: “yeah, that’s nice. Oh, have you noticed the two typos here and here and the missing comma over there?” Grrrr. And I also know what it’s like to look at your work and think: “This is all rubbish. I should do something more sensible with my time than embarassing me nonstop…”

    Protect your writing! I like the idea of the “Inner Writer”, an actual monster, person, daimon, whathaveyou – because, strange as it sounds, it helps me to realise what’s best for my writing. I have put a lot of efford in my writing blog – I have a lot of little stories online I wrote just for the blog and I do put quite a lot of work into my entries. But I don’t get any comments, at least, 99% of everything is not commented on. I haven’t figured out yet what I’m doing wrong, but all I know is that I’m taking a break right now and won’t force myself to write and be super-creative all the time when it obviously doesn’t make a lot of difference at the moment. (Whoa. I AM frustrated!)

    I wish you good luck! Let us know how you get along! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. 🙂

  2. candleowlknits permalink

    Fellow writer, take heart.

    I have been working on the same project, on and off, for five years! I’m going to a university this year, and I aim to conclude this love/hate relationship between my work and myself, but so far I haven’t made much headway.

    Your suggestions for just getting something down on paper are excellent. I may start to do that. I enjoy your blog a great deal. As a fellow introvert, I see how we might feel outnumbered and overpowered. I read a statistic once that said that 75% of Americans are actually introverted. But the extroverts seem more numerous because they’re out there displaying their extroverted ways and we (the introverts) are trying not to be noticed by reading or knitting or going on solitary meditative walks…

    Knit on!
    Write on!

    -Hannah (candleowlknits)

    • Thanks for the encouragement. It’s good to know that I am not alone in the whole long term project situation. I totally agree that introverts tend to “hide out” (thus making them harder to count.) Keep up the writing!

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