... what keeps you going? With the writing, that is.
See, I’ve been looking at my calendar, calculating the days and weeks and months that have run like water through my fingers, and I’m feeling the panic rising.
There’s still so much work to be done on my WIP. There are still so many ways in which that work is interrupted each and every day. This week in particular, any progress I’ve made was achieved at a rate equivalent to that of continental drift (which is one to ten centimeters per YEAR, should you wish to know.)
At times like these I start to hear those depressing, moaning, voices in my head.
Why keep going? What’s the point? It’s all too bloody hard.
And I have to work hard at blocking them out, because there is a kernel of truth in what they say. Especially the part about writing being bloody hard.
Nicholas Sparks has spoken about writing and the grind it can be. Now, his books may not be to your taste, but this quote of his resonates with me:
"When asked if I love writing, my answer is always, 'No.' I don't love it. I make my living at it, and some might think I'm good at it, but I don't love it. Writing, for me, is far and away the most challenging work I've ever done. I've hauled bricks, rebuilt houses, worked in offices, sold pharmaceuticals and writing novel is far more difficult. Maybe that means I'm not a natural writer ... okay, I can accept that.
Still, if I don't love it, why do I do it? Because I love a challenge. It's the nature of my personality to want to do something difficult just to see if I can do it. And, at the end, I am always proud of the work I've produced, because I did my very best. I often say, "I don't love writing. But I do love having written!" It's a myth that a person has to love something to be good at it. But you do have to care about doing the best job possible."
In a way, this is exactly what keeps me going when the writing chips are down - the intellectual and emotional challenge of crafting a damn good story, the intoxicating afterglow of having written, the thrill at going back over my work and finding the little nuggets of gold that my subconscious pushed to the surface while my conscious mind was wrestling with the words.
The fact I am very, very, stubborn also helps me to push on through.
Added to this is the fact that every time I write, I am getting better at it. It’s not obvious on a daily, weekly, even monthly basis, but over time, I can see it. And what I really want to get better at is actually, properly, finishing a book. Even if it turns out to be a terrible book. Because if I don’t ever finish a book, how will I ever learn to do so?
Now, I am sure everyone has a different thought or hope or mantra they hold on to in those grim days when writing seems like an endless chore - the mental image of your name on the cover of your book, the joy of disappearing into another world, the certainty that the satisfaction of seeing something that started off as a single thought in your mind become one hundred thousand words will make all the pain worthwhile…
So, you tell me - what keeps you going when the writing feels all too hard?
And in the meantime I will turn to those moaning voices in my head, tell them to shut up already, I’m trying to write, and get on with the job.