Listening to: Linkin Park – One More Light
I’m just going to come right out and say it. August was a rough month for writing for me. I’m normally very protective of my writing time, but I had so many mandatory commitments that fell in this one month, it kept my available time to write less than normal. And when I was able to find time, no matter how short, to sit down and write, the words did not come easily. I struggled for each word, fought for every sentence. By the end of the month, I felt like an utter failure. I hadn’t met my word count goal for August, and the guilt overwhelmed me. Was I suddenly the worst writer ever?
But last week, Leigh Bardugo was doing a signing near me for her new book Wonder Woman WARBRINGER, and since she is one of my favorite YA authors, I had to see her. During the audience Q&A session, someone asked her if she had any advice for those who are trying to become career writers while working jobs to pay the bills. She had some great words of encouragement, mainly around writing when you can and being okay with taking breaks, but she said something beyond that which resonated with me more than anything else. She spoke about how busy she was when she wrote CROOKED KINGDOM. How she felt she had so little time for it and thought it was horrible despite others telling her it was good (it isn’t good, by the way, it’s PHENOMENAL). It’s was a humbling reminder that I am not the only writer who thinks things like this on occasion. And it's okay when I do.
She's also not the first author I admire that I’ve heard stories like this from. I see them on Twitter all the time. Here are a few of my favorites from authors I love:
Every time I see one of these, or hear or read it in interviews, it makes me feel a little less alone. It’s a reminder that no matter if you’re a several times over bestselling author, a writer on the cusp of their first debut deal, or an author trying to land an agent, and everything in between, we all feel at times that writing is hard or what we’re writing is utter drivel. That we all have bad days where we think “this is painful, why am I doing this to myself?” And it’s okay to feel that way. Writers are hard on themselves. We’re artists and the written word is our medium. Being harsh on our work is how we learn, and improve our craft, our storytelling. And if the Tweets above teach you nothing else, it’s that it doesn’t go away just because you’re a bestseller who has sold a shit ton of books. You have to keep pushing yourself. Keep improving. It’s okay if the words aren’t flowing easy that day, because the next day they might be. It’s also okay to admit you need a break. To step back from a project, for a short time, if you need to. But above all, you must keep writing. Because no matter how bad you think the story is in that first draft, not putting the words to the paper and not finishing it is SO much worse.
September is a new month, a clean slate. I have some writing to do. And thankfully, a lot more time to do it.