I don’t know if it’s because writing about it helped, but the past month has seen a drastic decrease in some of my writing-related insecurities. Just in case the support group provides the cure, you should join, if you haven’t already. It was really helpful to articulate some of my worries, share them with the world, and find there are many others like me. And many of those commiserating were writers whose work I greatly admire as in, “he/she has no grounds for insecurity with such fabulous talent!” It was nice to know I wasn’t alone and that we can support each other in this ongoing struggle.
That being said, I had a fabulous October! Maybe it’s because October is my favorite month of the year and the weather really energized me. I also like to think it’s because I’ve finally broken through some kind of wall, something that was keeping me from doing as much as I was capable of. I worked through a few frightening snags in my novel, restructured the whole thing and still ended up writing nearly 40,000 words. I have a goal of 75,000 words for NaNoWriMo, and I’m not the least bit worried that I’ll hit it. It includes typing “The End,” and I’m not worried about reaching that goal either.
So what do I think helped, besides this lovely group and the wonderful fall weather? Here are my theories:
1. When you’re feeling down about your writing, write more.
It can be hard to start some days, but it’s always worth it once you get going. For me, it’s the writing itself that generates more ideas and presents me with solutions to problems. Trying to work through a tricky plot point through pure rumination usually doesn’t get me there. Thinking about it does help, but at some point, I have to get back to the keyboard. Toward the end of the month, I was sick for a few days. Normally I would see that as an excuse to take a few days off, but I got some additional motivation from the monthly writing challenge because I had perfect attendance and didn’t want to mess it up in the last days of the month. There were a few days that I only wrote 5-600 words, but it felt great to accomplish even that, and it kept me thinking about my story.
In the end, I always feel better after writing, even if it’s a tough slog.
2. Connect with other writers.
Just having a few buddies to commiserate with as often as you like can be very inspiring. You can build each other up, and help brainstorm solutions to problems. Personally, I love seeing tweets on the writing challenge like, “502 words written even though toddler vomited in my lap, dog ran away and toilet overflowed.” Then I always feel: “If they can do it, so can I, with my blessedly mostly distraction-free life.”
If you can meet in person every now and then, so much the better. That’s harder for me, since I change locations nearly every day, but yesterday, I had the great good fortune to spend a good three hours with the lovely Calen from Impromptu Promptlings, eating pumpkin pancakes and pondering life, books and writing. After an experience like that, I feel excited and inspired. Check out her blog by the way, if you like writing to prompts-some good stuff there!
3. Get feedback from other writers.
I know people have differing and very strong opinions on this, and I don’t think you should put an entire rough draft out there for just anyone to criticize. Getting a bit out of your comfort zone however, can really help kick you to the next level. I found getting some constructive criticism along with a good dose of compliments to be extremely energizing. I have found my fellow writers to be an incredibly helpful and supportive bunch. Whether it’s my work or someone else’s that’s being critiqued, I have not seen a single mean, sarcastic or catty comment. Not one. Even when the work in question needs a lot of improvement, those discussing it never fail to be positive and constructive.
I observed this phenomenon for a while before I was brave enough to put my own work out there, but once I did it, I found my motivation increasing in leaps and bounds. I started small, with the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop, putting just eight sentences of my WIP out there every Sunday, and then I got a bit braver with the October First Page Review. Both have been wonderful experiences, and I’ve received truly useful feedback that will make my work better.
While there’s always a moment of “OMG!” after first sharing something new, the overall experience has made me a lot less insecure.
Do any of these work for you? What other things have you found to be helpful?