I’m going to get all Zen philosophical on you for a moment. Feel free to assume lotus pose (if you can I’ll be really jealous) and curl up with a warm cup of Chai. Maybe put on some soothing music. Here are three insights about life and writing I’ve gained in the process of writing my first book:
- Every tiny step forward counts. The blank screen and blinking cursor are the bane of every writer’s existence, whether you’re writing a novel or a note inside a greeting card (okay, that involves a pen, but you get the point). It can be overwhelming to think about the sheer volume of what you’re trying to accomplish. That is, until you take a step back and realize every novel is written one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one scene, one chapter at a time. (I tell myself that all the time.) Similarly, any goal you’re trying to achieve is really measured in tiny steps so any and every little bit of progress should be celebrated.
- It’s the journey that really matters. Sometimes I get so caught up in finishing my current book (or even the whole series) by whatever artificial deadline is my head that I forget to enjoy myself along the way. I have remind myself that this writing time is something I will never get back so I should savor it, rather than try to rush through it. You can’t ever write a book (or even a single scene) for the first time more than once. Life is the same way. We rush through so many seemingly little things (sunsets, time with loved ones, a really good meal) trying to get to the next milestone that we risk not realizing what we had until we’ve missed it. I, for one, don’t want to look back on my life with regret because I was too busy to take the time to appreciate all the highs and lows that got me to the end of it.
- Be yourself, not anyone else. A writer friend of mine was worrying the other day that her writing style is too plain to be interesting to people, especially in comparison to other authors. I told her this: Your voice is what makes you, you. There is an audience out there for the whole spectrum of writing. I’m no Cassandra Clare, but I enjoy her descriptive style. People will enjoy hers too. I think simplicity fits certain genres and time periods better than others [she’s writing about the Midwest during the Depression.] Now, if she was writing about Victorian England, maybe not so much. The same can be said about life. No matter how much we may admire others for their personality, talents, looks, etc., we can’t be them. If we try to imitate them, all we do is shortchange ourselves. We are who we are for a reason, so we should find our true selves and let them shine, warts, misplaced modifiers and all.
Hmmm…I’m starting to wonder if I should have written self-help books instead of historical fiction. Nah, a knight and an Avalonian priestess would look very weird giving advice to people in the Information Age.