8 | writing is hard
Updated: Mar 1, 2020
It's eleven o'clock at night and I have a chapter of The Toxicant Throne posting in an hour. While I should probably be looking that over and making last-minute changes, I actually wanted to just take a moment and write a post for myself.
One reason I hesitate to blog about my writing experience is that it is constantly changing. I feel differently about writing at different points during a project. There are days when I can write upwards of 5,000 words. Then there are days where I force myself to write 200 words and even that is a struggle. I tell myself that it's fine, all that matters is that I'm writing----and, in many ways, that's true.
Because if you write 100 words a day, you'll eventually have a book. You can write 10 words a day and eventually have a book. Each word builds upon the last until you can finally write: the end. And when you do, there's no better feeling.
Something I struggle with is the forgetting that comes with time. You would think that I would remember after ten, almost eleven, novels. But I forget what it's like to write.
Although I've never had a baby, I've been told that women often forget the worst parts of birth or how hard it is to have a newborn. It's that forgetting that allows women to have a second baby.
I've learned that something similar happens with novel writing. I forget how hard writing actually is. Then, when I'm in the midst of a difficult project, I'll internally shame myself for not feeling as excited as I once remember myself feeling. I'll think--when did writing stop being fun? And I ask the question as if it has an answer, as if writing has ever actually stopped being fun to me. Because it hasn't. I love it. I've always loved it.
But I love it more sometimes than others. That's what I mean when I ask the question. I think to myself: why am I struggling to write ten words on The Toxicant Throne, when I loved writing The Culled Crown? I think things like this and feel bad about myself as a writer because I forget that once upon a time I stopped writing The Culled Crown. I let that book sit for months untouched because I was unmotivated.
And let me tell you, that motivation to write doesn't magically increase once you have readers. I thought it would, but ultimately, whether or not you have words in your heart is up to you. And it's perfectly okay to have fewer words today than you did yesterday.
Because writing a novel isn't easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it. It's work, emotionally exhausting work. When I write 5,000 words in a day, I rarely write the next day----my well is dry and I am too tired to do more. And that's fine. It's part of the process.
After all, writing feels a little like living a double life. I have to think like my characters for hours at a time, channeling that energy while bringing them to life with words. And while that life-giving is easy some days, it's difficult others. Monroe has been in my mind for years, but she has been my constant companion for almost two full books. I have lived her life and made her bad decision happen on the page.
And good goddess, her life is stressful.
So is mine.
The middle of books can be hard to write. If I sit and think, like I'm sitting and thinking now, I can remember a point in all of my novels when I struggled with motivation. I don't really believe in writer's block. I believe in writer's laziness or writer's indecision. With The Toxicant Throne, I suffer from both.
If you ask me, writer's block isn't a random affliction that can strike at any time. Like most things, I think it has a source. I think it can be treated if I, as the writer, learn to pinpoint what the source is.
For instance, I'm nearing the end of The Toxicant Throne and I know I need to set up things for the third book. I don't know exactly what the third book will look like, only that I can't wrap everything up in two novels. This has left me at a crossroads. I have too many choices. I could take the book, take Monroe Benson, in so many different directions.
And that overwhelms me. I'm writing less right now, only because I haven't yet decided what to do next. When I reach the end of what I've plotted, I'll have to make a decision. And the pressure is real.
When I wrote The Culled Crown, no one was really reading it. No one cared. This is my first experience writing a book while having active readers. I don't want to let anyone down, especially not myself.
I have to remember that I've finished ten books. I've struggled with ten books and still finished them. I've finished them and loved all ten. Even if I don't know the ending for The Culled Crown series right now, I will figure it out. That's what writers do. We write our way into the answers. We write until we find the plot. Until we've finished the story.
That's when writing is the most fun. When you're writing and you don't give a damn what anyone thinks. You just write. You let the characters tell the story.
I think (and this is coming to me as I'm writing this) that I've been holding on to the reins of the story more than I should. Monroe knows how the story goes and I just need to listen----as crazy as that sounds. I've set everything up, I've created a world for her, given her friends and enemies, readers who are pulling for. Now I just need to let her loose and write where she takes me. And that should be simple.
I want it to be.
Anyway, today was a day with more worrying than writing. There will always be days like this. Tomorrow will be better. I will wake up and make a cup of coffee, I will sit down at the kitchen table, and I will listen to Monroe. It's her story, after all. She knows it best.
I'll figure it out.
I just wanted to take a few minutes and write about where I am right now. That way, when I've finished this book (and I will) and I've moved on to the next project, I will remember that writing has its difficult moments. The words don't always come easy, the picture isn't always clear. The fun is working through those obstacles and making something wonderful. Something people will one day want to read.
Something I would want to read.
🌻 This blog post was rewritten for upload on Wattpad. March 1, 2020.