Before I was brave enough to call myself a writer, I was writing. It came in spurts. I’d get an idea and I’d start putting words on the page. At the time, I was writing short stories. I wanted to write novels. Inevitably, I’d hit a wall. I didn’t have an outline or a fully formed idea. I’d tire out. I’d put my script away. I’d get back to writing when some inspiration hit me again – usually on a different project.
As I talk with writers, I’m aware that there’s a ton of work to do on the page, in the preparation, in the discipline of showing up. And there are tools: loglines, index cards, step outlines, narrative outlines, scenes. Many of us struggle to move through the less-inspired moments or the not-so-great writing days. I often hear writers complain that the difficulty makes it daunting. Some wonder if it’s time to stop writing.
This is where it’s good to take stock. Today, when I’m struggling in my writing life, it’s not the same as when I first started. Those bursts of inspiration that turn to nothing – that fizzle out – are not my reality today. I’ve got techniques I’ve been taught and some I’ve invented. I’m light years away from the writer I was. This doesn’t mean my writing process is perfect. (Perfect doesn’t exist.) But things are much better than they used to be. Because I kept at it.
I believe there is no such thing as a wasted writing moment. Showing up again and again and again builds stamina. Writers need stamina. We need to learn to focus and to master our individual process. Things begin to flow and we being to understand what it means to show up. If we’re lucky, it becomes second nature.
Brainstorm. Write. Repeat. (Logline, index cards, step outline, narrative outline, scenes. First draft. Edit. Rewite. Repeat.)
When you’re in the midst of the next tricky writing moment, I invite you to reflect on where your writing journey started. How old were you? What were you struggling with? Note the evolution. Chances are you’ll see progress. For each bit of forward movement, you can celebrate – even if the voices in your head say otherwise. Focus and remember how it used to be. Observe how it is now. Lean into the joy of that realization. Then, keep at it.
Moving ahead gently, word-by-word, week-by-week, is how we grow. Forget the fantasy of being a genius and show up incrementally. Progress happens if you’re steady. Put words on the page. Brainstorm. Write. Repeat. That’s what it’s all about.
If you need guidance or support, you know where to find me.