Tell me how relatable this is–you hate writing, but you love having written.
There’s probably no greater feeling as a writer than hitting your word count goal and getting that writer’s guilt off of your shoulders.
I write in my spare time and even started this very blog about…writing…so you would think that it’s gotten easier for me over time, right?
This seems to be a common struggle amongst writers, even those who are wildly successful. Writing is actually kind of easy–it’s finding the motivation to get started that’s the real challenge.
I kind of think about writing the way I think about running. I’ve been doing it since 2010. I’ve run marathons. I’ve worn down sneakers until holes blew out the sides, and then continued running some more.
And yet, it’s never gotten any easier. In fact, just yesterday I vehemently assured myself that in the summer heat I’d be better off going for a walk rather than a run. I felt so guilty three minutes in that I decided to start running so I wouldn’t beat myself up about it later.
Why is this, though?
Well, much like writing, motivating myself to get started is far more difficult than the actual task. I’m also far more motivated by the feeling of having completed it than the crippling guilt of having not.
Know That Tomorrow Can Easily Turn Into Years
Let me start off by frightening you.
I, myself, didn’t quite know the difference between “can’t write” and “won’t write” until very recently, and that’s how I went from getting two separate manuscript requests from the fabulous Jessica Sinsheimer and Mackenzie Brady Watson at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference…
TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO.
I never sent them material because I kept letting my life get in the way. Will I ever send them those page requests now? Even though requests technically don’t expire, in this case it’s safe to assume that they have, so I won’t.
Be aware that if you put off writing today, you’re delaying future-you from reaching your goals by that much more time. A day here-or-there won’t make a massive difference, but be aware that it all adds up.
DO NOT, however, beat yourself up over needing to take a mental break. Know that it’s better to take years to write a good book, rather than months to write a terrible one. Think I’m wrong? How many NaNoWriMo books get published? Some, but those are the exception to the rule.
Be your own best friend and cheerlead from the sidelines, but also don’t get upset if you need to take care of yourself first. It isn’t a race.
Know The Difference Between Can’t And Won’t
I get it, there are going to be days when you’re exhausted, or you’re stressed. Perhaps you’ve got plans later that night and you want to use that time after you get home from work to get ready. If you don’t write on those days, the only person to whom you have to rationalize that decision is yourself, because in the end, you’re the one who will be most disappointed.
If you’re actually trying to write, however, and the words aren’t coming, or your mind is elsewhere, then feel free to give yourself a break, because the difference between can’t and won’t isn’t an actual excuse–at the end of the day, writing is writing, and not writing is still not writing.
You Do Not Have To Be Published Before You’re Thirty
…or forty, or fifty, etcetera. There’s plenty of pressure to be successful by a younger age, particularly, for some reason, before you’re 30, or at least in the YA genre.
Plenty of writers have found debut success at plenty of ages. (Look, JK Rowling didn’t publish her debut novel until she was 32!)
A survey that I will link to here has found the average debut author’s age to be somewhere around 36 years old, with the average length of time that they worked on their craft before finding success to be 11.6 years. A great read, and one that I like to go back to occasionally.
And since plenty of us seem to love that internet meme about how Oprah was fired from her local news station in her twenties, and Tina Fey worked at the YMCA, while hunky Harrison Ford worked as a carpenter until his thirties before breaking out into Star Wars fame in 1977, I’m going to include a click-through link to that sort of thing for some motivational reading.
As well as a gratuitous photo of Han Solo, himself, because..
DAMN, look at those abs! This man ain’t worried about being a successful movie star.
If you’re still in your twenties, I want you to take a deep breath, and calm down, because you have time, and it’ll happen for you regardless, as long as you keep trying. It’s not a matter of “if” rather than a matter of “when.”
Only writers who give up never get published. You will fail time after time, until success finds you.
Why? Because if it were easy, anybody could do it.
So get back to work. You’re doing amazing, sweeties!