I’ve written software training manuals, short stories, a memoir and more than 500 blog posts and still full-length fiction makes my soul shake in fear.
I hitch on my titanium panties and keep writing, and I really (really, REALLY) try not to think about it…but my writer soul shakes all the same.
You see, I’m really close to finishing the first draft of a work of fiction that is near and dear to my heart. I’m also about to start a work project that will be crazy-making for the next few months.
The only way I know how to do the kind of schedule I’m embarking on AND write is to dive back into ROW80. You will never find a more supportive bunch of peeps.
- It’s the writing challenge that knows you have a life.
- It’s full of partying peeps who will jump online and do writing sprints with you.
- It’s the place where I’ve met some of my closest online pals. (Y’all know who you are.)
- It’s a fantastic way to hold yourself accountable.
My 2013 Round 3 Goals:
- The last 30K of the current book – I’ll break that down in my next ROW80 post.
- Managing Writers In The Storm for the month of July.
- Posting twice a week + a ROW80 update here at More Cowbell.
- Walking 4 days a week while I’m in San Francisco for five weeks.
- Getting back to Crossfit 3x/week when I get home in August.
I believe in giving back, so while I’m busy hitching up my Undies of Steel, I’ll also share my “Favorite 3 Writing Commandments.”
We’ll see if y’all agree or disagree that these babies will help you keep your sanity while you pen your stories. (Note: Some of you have seen this list before on Writers In The Storm, but if I’m reminding myself, I figure it’s only right to share it with my posse here at More Cowbell.)
Commandment #1 ~ Thou shalt not quit.
“The only way to guarantee failure is to stop trying.”
Susan Mallery was the one who really brought this home to me (click here for her words). She freely admitted to being “an OK writer who didn’t give up until she became a good writer.”
All the writers I know, except a few tentative ones who worked hard on their craft before they put their
babies books out there, were rejected for years.
Did they give up?? No they did not.
They kept learning and working until the doors that were previously closed inched open. Maybe those doors only opened a teensy little crack but, like the prisoner who digs for freedom one spoonful of dirt at a time, these writers kept writing.
Commandment #2 ~ Thou shalt not adopt nonsensical rules.
The only rules that matter are the ones that work for you. Really. Truly. I promise.
I’m not saying you don’t need to have structure. I believe you do. A novel without structure? That’s a paper brick you’ll end up heaving under the bed with your dustbunnies.
Those of you who’ve been at this for a while probably shake your head over your early work. This is what beta readers and critique partners are for, so you don’t throw that brick onto Amazon before you know better.
The point of this commandment is you must write your stories in a way that allows you to finish them. Period.
It doesn’t matter if you’re surrounded by linear, plotting writers. If YOU aren’t linear in your process, nothing is going to lure you to The End of that book. No magic potion will help you zoom straight through to the end using “someone else’s methods” because you can’t.
Your brain doesn’t work that way. It works your way.
Learn good craft, but above all learn your own process!
Part of why I’m unpublished is it took me so damn long to figure out I’m a scene writer. I don’t write straight through a book. I simply can’t do it. Scrivener has saved me by allowing me to write MY way.
Writing like my linear pantser friends gave me nothing but frustration and bad self-esteem. Using other peoples’ processes ensured that somewhere between page sixty and one hundred, I’d start moaning to the Writing Gods about what a failure I was.
My way lets me see pages pile up and allows me to participate in challenges like this one. Plus, now that I’ve figured out “my system,” I’ve got about 9 books to finish. And the first one is on deck this round!!
This leads me to my third point…
Commandment #3 ~ Thou shalt finish thy books.
I wrote a post called The Most Important Writing Lesson I Ever Learned about a conversation I had with my pal, Natalie Hartford, about fear. Like all writers, Natalie was floundering out of the gate because she felt like she had to get some “BIG IDEA” to run with.
There’s only like six story ideas on the planet so we all need to chill and just write. And never, ever forget that “done is better than good.”
If you’re staring at your blank screen and need brainstorming ideas, you might also enjoy this post.
One last thought:
Part of the writing pain that led to Commandment #2 was good old fashioned fear. It’s hard to make rational decisions about your story when you’re scared.
The best post I’ve ever read on dealing with fear comes from Susan and Harry Squires: Think Small. I’m not going to say more because you really need to click that link.
Do you have some hard and fast “writing commandments?” What are they? What’s guaranteed to take you the other direction and hold up your process? Have you ever participated in a challenge like ROW80 before? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!