I’m always writing something. If it’s not this blog, I’m jotting into my journal (yes, paper, I still have one of those) or slaving away on one work-in-progress or another. While the first two are usually seat-of-my-pants entries, which to me, are about as much effort as launching into a brand new box of Skinny Cow Chocolate Truffle Bars (have you had these things? Almost orgasmic, and a ridiculous 100 calories! With NO artificial sweeteners either!!), lately my WIP has been leaving me somewhat frustrated. Granted, I’m not very far into it, only about thirty pages or so, but I’ve been so stuck on minutiae, examining every word and phrasing, that I’m hardly making any progress. Seems I just keep picking it apart and rewriting over and over, staring at it so closely and critically I can practically read the coding on the screen. I’m telling you, my inner editor has gone off the deep end, and it’s nearly driving me nuts. What’s a writer to do?
First, a little self-criticism, followed by a bit of analysis. Editing, intrinsically, is always a good thing. Seat-of-the-pants writing, or as I like to refer to it, verbal vomit, will only take you so far. It’s like making popcorn: you always end up with a lot of old maids (talk about an anachronism, but you know what I mean). If you don’t get rid of them, you’ll end of breaking your teeth, and in your writing, your rhythm. I tend to edit often as I write, re-reading line after paragraph after page in each writing session, and more often than not, I find a lot of superfluous prose I can trim away. Ultimately come up with cleaner, more elegant writing. The problem arises when the editing impedes me from getting further into my story, and I end up shaping and reshaping the same piece of clay so to speak, which is where I’m finding myself now. Why in blue blazes am I doing this?!
Now comes the self-analysis part. I’ve determined there are a few factors. I’m thinking because of school my writing schedule is a bit more erratic, so I’ve sort of lost my momentum. But I’m hardly one of those people out there who say they’re too busy to write because, personally, I never understood that. Usually I’m too busy not to write, as I’ve always found it a challenge to snatch blocks of time I could devote to writing, whether in the early morning hours, during breaks between classes or somewhere between dinner- and bedtime. As is the old adage: if you want something done, give it to a busy person. Applies to me, because truly, I’ve never missed a deadline, and I always get things done. So why now?
Perhaps it comes down to self-confidence, and maybe I’m lacking a bit at the moment, which I’m sure all writers wrestle with now and then. Sometimes we lack the conviction it takes to be confident in our abilities, and since writing is such a lonely exercise, it’s not as if we have a boss or coach standing over us prodding us on. Or maybe I’m a bit cowed by that Great Unknown that lies beyond those obsessively crafted words, but how will I know how truly wonderful I am if I don’t move past them? Writing means many different things to writers, but don’t let anyone ever tell you it doesn’t take courage to bring out in the open what we’ve created so deeply within us. Sometime I think it takes the courage of a soldier. And yet, we still do it, don’t we?