It’s Friday and the last post of September: time to address the top five problems I need to remedy as a writer! (There are more than five, but we want to keep this post short so we can enjoy the weekend.)
I am extremely self-aware and critical of my own writing. I am truly my own harshest critic, which is helpful in the sense that nothing anyone ever says about my writing can be worse than what I have already said about it. I’ve grown a very thick skin thanks to the doubts constantly blaring in my head. The only reason I still write is because I enjoy it, and I know that I will improve with time and practice. If I started writing because I thought I was the best, I would have quit a long time ago.
Here are my greatest weaknesses when it comes to writing:
#5: I procrastinate.
Who doesn’t procrastinate, really? And it doesn’t matter how excited I am to write, or what scene comes next. I will still do a million other things before I can finally relax enough to continue a story.
#4: I am easily distracted.
This is closely connected to #5… Even in the middle of writing this post, I just clicked through fifteen other tabs and read four different articles on a variety of subjects. For some reason I have to be doing ten things at once in order to stave off boredom. There are times when I do become so engrossed in what I’m writing that the world disappears around me, but they are few and far between. The longest period of time I have ever been able to do nothing but write was in May when I wrote chapter 17 of Burning Space in nine hours with one or two breaks. That was freaking awesome.
#3: I can’t force myself to write if certain conditions aren’t met.
I must be left alone with good music blasting in my ears. I must also check social media and the news beforehand. The house must be clean. I have to feel motivated – if I’m depressed, my day is shot. If I’m sick, I will read a book or sleep instead. If I am anticipating a social event, I will feel too anxious. If I only have a few hours, I will waste it. If I’m hungry… etc.
All I need to start writing is time. If I have time, I can keep a snack and water bottle next to me, I can ensure the house is clean and my social media accounts have been checked. If the news saddens or angers me, I will need time to cheer myself up with a few videos before I can crack down on my story. Fortunately, I am pretty good at making the time for myself to meet all these conditions. My goal before I started Gray Haze was to write every day, and so far I have done pretty well. At some point, however, especially since I want to be a mom in the future, I will need to train myself to write no matter what’s going on around me. Still looking forward to it, though! 🙂
#2: Action scenes take so long…
At the beginning of chapter 17 in Burning Space, there is a huge action scene that lasts seven or more pages. The last half of the chapter is relatively calm, with ample description of clothing, scenery, and so on. Guess which half took longer to write.
Action scenes are exhausting for me, but nothing makes me feel more accomplished than finishing them. What do I mean by action scenes? To me, they are scenes where two or more characters are fighting with very little dialogue and space to breathe. Describing how a character is battling another character is much more difficult for me than describing a landscape. Epic battle scenes can be a combination of the two, so they are a little easier to write. The scenes that take me the longest are duels. I try to speed this process along by focusing on emotions and sensations more than actual movements, although I will include references to both in the scene.
I may have said this earlier in the post, but it bears repeating: I am not the best. I am not perfect. I am not even great. Maybe good sometimes, but not great. Yet I constantly struggle against this compulsive need to be perfect. I am a slow writer because of this. You’ve probably heard or read authors assuring other writers that the rough draft is meant to be garbage. Better to work with a terrible first draft than a blank page, right? Well, what if… you are incapable of moving forward until you have combed through what you’ve just written seven times and consulted the dictionary to make sure every word is correct and optimized in a sentence? Is it possible to write a first draft that isn’t absolute drivel? I believe so! But it may take a little longer to finish it. On the bright side, the editing process is much faster when I have already spent as much time editing as I have writing my first draft.
What have I done to combat this issue? First, I have a mother who reads each chapter as soon as I finish it. I also outline, and in a way the outline is my rough draft. I write about every major event that happens in the story as quickly as I can and ignore the mistakes I make along the way. I am also naturally gifted with mad grammar skillz, so 99% of the mistakes I make are typos. I rarely write in a manner that requires extensive re-writing.
But could my writing always be better? Yes. It will never be perfect. 😦
What are your flaws or shortcomings as a writer? List them in the comments. lol 😉
Have a great weekend! Be sure to pre-order Burning Space tomorrow while the price is only $1.99! Thanks for reading!