Sit down, open the file, and keep writing
I don’t know about you, but at the drop of a hat, I can come up with about seven dozen reasons why I “just can’t” write today. Those reasons will range from the semi-realistic ones (laundry, groceries, having to write a blog post) to the creative (I received a call from the Universe last night in my dream and I have to get in contact with/research this/muse upon this), to the dramatic (nobody really likes me anyway, this is all a waste of time, why did I ever decide to start writing anyway?).
In my own defense and in defense of the many authors who find themselves in this predicament, most of this problem can be boiled down to two fairly reasonable issues: we are tired, and/or we are disheartened. Usually we don’t want to admit the reality, so we interject one of the aforementioned reasons in lieu of the truth.
Of course, no matter the number of reasons we come up with as to why we “just can’t” putting off until tomorrow what one can do today doesn’t get the book written. There is only one way to overcome that and it is this simple solution: Sit down, open the file, and keep writing.
Now, we all have lives beyond our laptop. There are chores that need to be done, and people we need to get in touch with, and faces and armpits that need to be washed. But if we’re going to be serious about our craft, we need to understand that while some days it won’t be easy, we have to set some time aside for the work. In other words, go put the laundry in the washing machine, then get your ass back to the keyboard. We don’t need to watch the bubbles rolling beyond the window of the front-loader to know that the clothes are being cleaned.
Easy to say in a blog post, but some days it’s hard to get up the inspiration to carry through with it. Maybe I can help with that…
Sometimes it just takes a reminder or two that what we’re doing is (a) worthwhile, (b) something we need to do to keep sane, and (c) a difficult, but not insurmountable, project.
On the wall of my office I have many quotes. Taking five minutes to sit back in my chair with my hands behind my head while reading these quotes really can make the difference between whether I get up and walk away from the novel at hand, or whether I force myself to work through the “just can’t” and get in gear. Here are some of my favourites:
“Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?” ~ David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
I take this with an entirely different context than the character of the movie, but it all boils down to the same meaning: every little effort eventually becomes part of a bigger movement. A 100,000 word novel, when taken in 2,000 word bites, will be completed in 50 bites. That means if you set your mind to writing 2,000 words a day (for me, this is approximately an hour of writing, maybe two if the process is moving slowly), then your first draft will be done in just under two months. Now that is entirely reasonable, isn’t it?
“There is a huge difference between what we work for and what we live for.” ~ Nomi to Lito in Death Doesn’t Let You Say Goodbye, Sense8
Wait… this doesn’t apply to writing, does it? Of course it does. It applies to all the things that are really, really important in your life, whatever those things are to you. Yes, we have family and jobs and laundry and dogs and chores and food to cook and bills to pay, but we should never forget the things we do because we need them to complete us. These are the things we live for. And for a writer, you should be given the opportunity to pursue your life’s dream of writing. It is a valid project and a worthwhile endeavour. Make the time for it, and insist that the people in your life give you that respect as well.
“Every now and again someone will ask me, ‘When are you going to get tired of this horror stuff, Steve, and write something serious?'” ~ Stephen King, Four Past Midnight – A Note on the Sun Dog
I doubt I even need to explain this one, do I? Someone, somewhere, at sometime, (and the way it’s written it leads one to believe that it may very well have been more than one someones, a couple of somewheres, and a few sometimes) had the audacity to ask Stephen King this question. An author who has made millions of dollars, sold millions of novels, and has millions of fans. Which means it doesn’t matter if someone else believes in what we’re doing, it matters that we believe in what we’re doing.
So, sit down. Open the file. And keep writing. The words are worth it. We’re worth it.
Until next time,
AF Henley <3
Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica. A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.
Henley has been proudly publishing with Less Than Three Press since 2012, and has been writing like mad ever since—an indentured servant to the belief that romance and true love can mend the most broken soul. Even when presented in prose.
Henley’s newest release, Wolf, WY hit the market on October 21st and is now available for pre-order at your favourite online book retailer. Check it out on Amazon, or directly through LT3 Press. For more information please stop by for a visit at afhenley.com.