Steven King once said that writing, even on the worst day, is a lot like being on a playground. I agree with him. Most of the time.
In reality, many times writing is that playground, except it’s haunted by ghostly bullies who have free reign to come right up and spit in your face and basically beat the hell out of you. If you’re any kind of writer, I’m sure you know them, too—they have nicknames like Dickey Doubt, Laney Self-Loathing, Willy What-the-Hell-Am-I-Doing.
I’ll tell you exactly what the hell I’m doing. Sitting alone in a room all day, talking to myself, trying to conjure up conversations between stuffed bears or martini-guzzling psychotic relatives.
Some days, the metaphorical sun comes out, rainbows glisten in the sky directly above, marshmallow cereal rains from the heavens, and turtle doves coo. But some days, all you can do is walk the yard, try not to get the crap kicked out of you, and just keep discreetly waggling your pants so the dirt you just shivved out of your cell falls out.
But hey, that’s creation. If it was wicked easy, everybody would do it.
Creation, especially when you’re working from totally imaginary events, is tricky. It takes intense focus and optimism, both of which I apparently lack. I find that despite tacking my pants to the chair with upholstery staples, my mind still tends to wander. Mundane tasks become urgent. I file my nails. I make farting noises by blowing air out of pursed lips. I spin in said chair. I consider a visit to Taco Bell.
I write a blog like this to try to justify the “writer” title, which I always feel is just one blown deadline away from being a total fib.
The good news is that if you sit still long enough and whip yourself into plopping out whatever you can, eventually you get some words on a page. Maybe they’re not good. Maybe they are (they probably aren’t). But either way, you’ve begun, and beginning is the first step on a journey that is bound to have some sunny days.
If you plow along, even the rainy, bully-ridden ones still amount to completed work.
I think that if you want to be really good at anything, you have to be ready and willing to fail at it. A lot. Screw-ups are the impetus for cowgirling up, and that’s how we learn. So what if your first, second, eighth drafts are junk. What if there’s something good layered in there?
If you want to be a real writer, you have to make yourself try. You have to be okay with failure, and then hold a gun to your own head until you get up and try again. Just remember—starting is the hardest part. Then getting a draft is the hardest part. Then editing is the hardest part. Then publishing is the hardest part.
Then, starting the second book is the hardest part. But that’s exactly what I’m doing. Right after I finish this delicious taco.