Thursday 4 October 2018

Struggling can be good

I've noticed that on the days when the writing seems to fly what I actually produce is often not all that good. On the days when I struggle something better emerges.

Why is this?

Could it be that perpetual editor gets in the way too much and cramps the whole process? That doesn't seem too helpful. That would never allow that all-important first draft to be completed. Have I lost faith in my story? When we first set out to write we have tons of ideas. We gradually use them up or find them less viable than we first thought. 

Are we being too perfectionist? Are we hoping for something really spectacular? Remember, they say it takes 10,000 hours to get to baseline craft level. It can take twenty years to peak. Examples: Louisa May Alcott, David Almond Philip Pullman.

Have we read something spectacular recently? Has it set the bar higher than we can reach? 

Was it something we ate? Or a bad night's sleep? A lack of vitamin B12 or other? 

I'm keeping an eye on my own process though not keeping written records. An example though: yesterday I struggled. I noticed also that my session at the gym went less well. Something was definitely out of kilter, then. I started this article yesterday and couldn't get enthusiastic about it. Today it seems to be working. What has changed? 

Well, I had a good night's sleep. Also I realised that I needed to structure this blog post, not just write what came into my head. I needed to create something that would be useful to the reader. 

But how can this be good? Well, the finished product after the struggle is always better, in my case at least.  

How can we cope with the struggle? 

Listen to the inner editor but also speed ahead with the text. The first draft does get completed and is all the better for the editor's interference. 

If you're rejecting ideas it means you are becoming more discerning. Trust that you'll be able to select the most appropriate stories. Gradually we become more discerning and eliminate some idea before we even get started.

Perfectionism is fine but don’t let it stop your production. Louisa, David and Philip are just people. Don't be jealous. If it happened to them it can happen to you, too. 

We should always be reading good writing anyway. Again, it was a human who produced it. Yours will probably be spectacular in another way, one day, if you keep on working at it. 

Look after your physical well-being. 

And as said so often that it has almost become a cliché: writing is mainly rewriting.      

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