Measuring Progress

02.19.10

Image by colemama via Flickr

This year is my Year of No Excuses.

Six months into it, I would have hoped to be a lot farther along than I am right now in terms of my writing goals. After all, I’m supposed to be revising/rewriting material that I’ve already written with a concept that I already know. This should be a lot easier than dashing through a rough draft of “What Happens Next.” Well, I could have only guessed at the “easier”, because I’ve never been in this stage before, one where I’m supposed to make rough drafts and rough ideas into a presentable, novel-length story.

So, honestly I didn’t realize how L O N G all this revising and rewriting would take, and how easily distracted I am now by bright, shiny ideas and remembering the rush I felt when I got to play with something new and unexplored.

And, to be really, really honest, I’ve had to overcome the belief that I didn’t have what it takes to write this story. And, when I say overcome the belief, I mean I had to do so many times. (Like, a lot. Daily. Maybe even this morning.) Even now, I have to drown out all the chatter about not being enough to write my WIP (or any other story, for that matter). The talent, the intelligence, the words, that indefinable It…whatever It is, I don’t have It enough to write. Of course, because I’m me, I don’t just get this as a one-time mental obstacle (which is hard enough to overcome on its own), but also as a recurring obstacle that likes to morph and come at me as different versions of “I Suck.” I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but I’m sure you get what I mean.

Of course, I realized that I focused on the wrong things entirely. First, I’ve been focusing on the time frame in which to finish my story, and kept getting discouraged that I wasn’t finishing quickly enough. Crazy, I know. Second, I lost sight of the idea that “All writing is practice.”

Laurell K. Hamilton wrote in a recent blog post, “Practice may not make perfect, but it certainly makes better.” She also went on to say that she desired to write well more than any other distraction. That even though she was years away from selling anything, she owed it to herself to finish a piece of writing . She owed it to herself to continue writing and finishing stories and sending them out for publication, because she knew that the only way to get better at writing is by doing it.

So, I’ve decided to narrow my focus on the story itself, and let go of all other expectations that I have of it. It will be finished when it’s finished. The one rule I have now is simply to write at a set time each day. No need to overcomplicate the process, which I seem to want to do (no surprise why I had to embrace the words “Simplify” and “Focus” last year, right?)

I owe it to myself to get these crappy words out and finished so that I can move on to the next batch of crappy words and the next batch. Pretty soon, the words will eventually become less crappy, and maybe even more polished. Because, I too want to write well enough to sell a story one day. And, the only way I can do that is to get out of my own way, and write and finish stories. The road to a pretty and polished story is paved with a ton of crappy versions of that story, so I might as well get started on my contributions.

 

So Tell Me: What’s Been Going On With You??

 

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13 thoughts on “Measuring Progress

  1. Ava Jae says:

    The hardest part of writing is often overcoming our own doubts. Keep to it and you’ll do great! You’ve definitely adopted the right attitude. ^_^

  2. Sierra Gardner says:

    Sometimes I look back on what I have written and realize it is utter garbage. But then I have to tell myself that that’s okay, because at least it is garbage on paper =) For me, finding time to write and actually putting words on paper is excruciatingly difficult sometimes. Gonna keep working on that though!

    • Liza Kane says:

      “Garbage on paper” is what it’s all about! When people talk about having the story already written in their head, but just need to sit down one day and write it out, I just shake my head and say “good luck with that.” Ideas and concepts and scenarios are So. Hard. to translate into words. But, once words are out there, then the craft of polishing and choosing better words comes into play. It takes time and work and patience to mold that initial slab of clay into a beautiful work of art, but I take comfort in knowing that the clay isn’t set and I still have the chance to tweak it.
      Speaking of time, lately, I’ve scaled my writing sessions back to just 30 minutes a day. That’s all I owe myself. I used to set aside hours of time, but then found I’m just as productive giving myself 30 minutes. Weird. Anyway, if I choose, I can give myself more 30 minute sessions. I’ve participated in #wordmongering several times on Twitter because it fits my “30 minute” mindset.
      Good luck to you friend, and happy writing! ^_^

  3. Regina says:

    That is the wonderful secret of being a writer…you are allowed to suck! Sometimes when I am writing I think it becomes a lot of filler and it isn’t until editing that I hash that out. I guess filler or crucial, it is important that I can get it out there. Keep flowing! Best wishes!

  4. J.C says:

    Ah, yes, revision takes a lot of time. Frequently longer than a first draft (unless your first draft is very clean) – it’s fiddlier and more involved, and I’m also very prone to underestimating just how much time it will take (and then getting frustrated that I’m not done yet! because there are NEW things I want to write).

    But, having something revised, knowing it’s better than the last version, that it’s on it’s way to being good enough to submit is something special. I don’t get as excited when I finish a first draft now, because I know there is a lot of work to do before I can submit – I DO get excited when I finish a round of revision. I am filled with the warm glow of knowing I’m getting better, that I’m making the story I want to tell strong, and beautiful.

    • Liza Kane says:

      Thank you Cassie! What a great mindset to keep! And I love that you said: “I’m making the story I want to tell strong and beautiful.” That’s something I will remind myself when I get too deep in the “I sucks”. 😀

  5. Carolina Valdez Miller says:

    So tough to let go of our expectations to rework our goals into something more manageable and realistic. You’re so right about the need to place the focus on the things that are most important. I have a feeling you’ll find yourself being even more productive than ever.

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