I used to dread winter coming. I grew up in Michigan, a very cold and snowy place during the winter. So when the days started getting shorter in the fall I knew subzero temperatures and life-threatening patches of black ice were on the way. Then I moved to California and I didn’t have to fear the snow and ice anymore. But my dread of winter stayed with me. There was just something about it getting dark so early in the afternoon that depressed me. I felt this need to withdraw and retreat until spring showed up again.
I also noticed that my writing output seemed to suffer during the end of December, but I blamed it on the holiday madness that erupts every year. I was too busy to think straight, much less push through those difficult last few chapters of my novel.
How many times have you beaten yourself up for not doing more? And how much of the time do you disregard your small accomplishments because they’re not the big goal you promised yourself?
Have you noticed that when you bring this mindset to the writing of your novel you end up feeling tired, discouraged, and sometimes hopeless?
Why is there such a large gap between setting goals and completing them? Some writers vow to write every day and then give it up before the week is out. Some writers swear that this is the year they finish their novel, and then the novel sits in the drawer for the next two years. We know that we truly want to fulfill these dreams, but still we procrastinate until things feel hopeless. Why is it so hard?
I went down to San Jose last week to see Alexsandar Hemon read from his new work, The Book of My Lives. After the reading he answered questions from the audience on topics ranging from writing, to imagination and creativity. One of the questions brought up the subject of expertise. Specifically, how much is needed to be a successful writer.
How long have you been working on your masterpiece? Are you in the beginning stages, when all you want to do is lie around and stare into your characters’ eyes and learn all about every detail of their past? Or are you in the middle stages, when you’re getting to the really good stuff and the plot is thickening up like gooey cake batter?
Or are you in that after-the-middle-but-before-the-end part, when it seems like you can’t remember a time when you weren’t working on this project and frankly you’re a little…well…tired and….