In March, I posed a question to my newsletter subscribers, “What is your biggest writing struggle?” I received quite a few responses and will continue to answer them in upcoming “Writing Tips” blog posts.
Reader Question: My biggest struggle with writing right now is getting motivated! How do you motivate yourself to sit down and write something you aren't feeling confident about?
I understand your struggle. When we start out, we feel unsure of our writing abilities. Characters, plot, point of view, and setting – so many pieces of the puzzle that need to fit together. Writing a story seems daunting, if not impossible.
I suggest not looking so far in the future but just one day at a time. Try to write for yourself - like it's not for anyone else's eyes. It will help take the stress off you to make it perfect. The first draft (or second, or third...) doesn't have to be great. Just focus on getting the story out of your head and onto paper or into a Word document. Tweaking comes later. For now, just write.
And remember, be easy on yourself. (I've read your writing and it's darn good!) To be honest, the first several drafts of my novel were terrible. At one point I stopped writing for almost two years. In fact, I almost gave up because I didn’t have much confidence in myself. During that non-writing time, I read A LOT. Books in my genre and in other genres. I wanted to see how other writers developed characters. How they made a story work from start to finish. How they wove in side stories and keep the reader engaged.
And that's when I had my breakthrough. By reading novels like the one I was trying to write, it helped me work my way through my own story. Then I showed my work to a critique group – several writers who I trusted to be honest but to also be kind because tough love doesn’t work for me. I needed encouragement along with suggestions – where to cut scenes. Where I repeated the same word, or phrase, multiple times. Where things didn’t make sense.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. For now. Just write. Don’t let that critical voice be louder than your creative voice. I know it’s not easy. But, it’s worth it.
If you have a writing struggle, feel free to contact me. I’ll post my responses and suggestions in future blog posts.
Great advice, Joan! Thanks.
Good point. The relationship between reading and writing is difficult to put into words. Definitely worth doing and worth celebrating. Sven Berkert pointed out in The Gutenberg Elegies the phonetic change in even the pronunciation of Reader and Writer is a mere stretch of the mouth, the long e and the long i like an x and y axis where everything can then be plotted out. A necessary and vital relationship. I also look to other writers for a deeper value than entertainment. Not only technique but for that process of putting one word after another until the work is done. Thanks for your newsletter and your blog. Joan, you are an inspiration and a beautiful, wonderful writer. I can’t wait to read your novel!
Thank you for your kind words. Your writing has inspired me also.
Your advice is dandy. I agree. Write like no one is reading! xoA