Where writing is concerned, I’ve been living under a number of false truths the last few years.
I recently started working on Series 2 of my Mythical Menagerie short story urban fantasy serial, after the release of Myth Hunter, the compilation of Series 1, in June 2020. In the last two weeks, everything I believed about myself as a writer has been turned on its head.
False Truth #1: I am a Planner
I always considered myself to be a plantser – a weird hybrid between a plotter and a pantser, but someone who most definitely needed to plan before attempting any kind of writing. For each installment in Series 1 (except for the very first one, the one that flowed from my fingers like blood through my veins), I wrote a detailed 1-2 page synopsis of everything that needed to happen in that story. By the time it came to writing the first draft, it felt like I was pulling teeth! I hate first drafts, I told myself. I love going back and editing them, but putting those first words down? Only the promise of lots of chocolate (in either milkshake or brownie format) could entice me to do that. It took me months to get a first draft of around 10k – 20k words out.
The funny thing was, when it came to writing a monthly flash fiction piece for my newsletter, all I needed was the first sentence and a general idea to get cracking, and I’d have it done within two or three hours, usually in such a clean state that it needed little to no editing.
So why was I struggling so much with my longer stories?
I told myself that it was because I didn’t know what was needed for the entire series when I was writing each separate installment. So for Series 2, I sat down and plotted a high-level outline that encompasses the whole storyline for the next book. That done, I set about to go into the finer detail for Part 1.
And got stuck. Seriously stuck. I DID NOT want to write anything down that was already vaguely mulling around in my head.
So I didn’t. I thought about how much I enjoy writing flash fiction without a plan, and I just started writing. And it’s been glorious! I haven’t had this much fun writing a first draft since I wrote Beginner’s Luck back in 2017.
False Truth #2: I Can’t Write Every Day
Because, you know, I’m busy, and resistance, and I’d rather scroll endlessly down my Facebook feed until I’m bored to tears.
Unless there’s a major crisis at the day job that sees me working until late into the night, there is always some time to write a few words. They don’t have to be the world’s best words, just words that get the story moving forward again. They don’t have to be many words either – getting to 100 words is really not that hard if you don’t count them while you write.
Since I’ve started this new first draft, I’ve written every single weekday. I give myself weekends off, because I try to stay as far away from my laptop as possible when I don’t absolutely have to sit in front of it.
False Truth #3: I Need to Schedule Time for Binge Writing
That is my preferred method of writing. I like my twice-weekly writing trip to the coffee shop and it’s probably the thing I miss the most during these crazy lockdown times. I fully plan to reinstate that particular habit as soon as it’s safe.
But for now… yeah, I don’t need it. I can get by with grabbing some time somewhere during the day when things are slow, and writing between interruptions. I set myself a daily target of 500 words and I have exceeded every day, sometimes doubling or even tripling it.
False Truth #4: My Creativity is Fuelled by Chocolate
Seriously, just look at these writing posts from my Instagram feed!
Chocolate definitely helps as a motivation to get me writing, but it’s not necessary.
False Truth #5: I’ll Get the Words Done When I Need To
I’m pressure-driven and normally putting myself under pressure to get something done is good enough. But when a self-imposed writing deadline approaches, I tell myself no-one really cares anyway and why should I push myself? I’ll get it done in due time.
That, my friends, is why it took me three years to get my first novel out.
I’ve decided to try a bit of social accountability and committed to posting my total word count progress every Friday on my Instagram feed. So far, it’s working. I mean, I’ll feel like a complete idiot if I have to post the same number two weeks in a row, right?
This also comes with the added bonus of friends and followers cheering me on, which, I have to admit, is really nice and very motivating.
False Truth #6: I’m not a Real Writer
It’s hard to be a real writer when you don’t actually write, or when you mostly hate it when you do. But now that I’m writing frequently and I’m truly loving it again, I can safely say I finally feel like a REAL WRITER.
What false truths are preventing you from reaching your goals?