You Do You – Being a writer should only mean being yourself

Lately, I’ve had a huge issue with second guessing myself. I’ve been busying doing things for Crimson Melodies and for my family, and this site somehow got pushed down on the priority list. It was mostly due to necessity, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering if maybe I could have found a way to keep up with blogging once a week despite how busy things have been lately…

Hence the topic of this post.

Out here in the real world, things are often more complex than fiction, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be the heroes of our own story.

The Main Character in your life is you.

When I’m not busy doubting myself, I’m a big supporter of working hard and being realistic about expectations. Not everyone can or should write every day, but everyone should spend some time figuring out what they want and how to achieve it.

If you want to write two books a year, do the math. That’s 120k-180k per year for two average length novels. Meaning its 329-494 words per day to write two first drafts a year. Even if you took off weekends and holidays, it’d be 488-732 words per day for two first drafts every time you get to New Years.

Do those numbers surprise you? They should.

Most people talk about writing as though they need to have hours upon hours to finish composing a book. If you can master leaving notes for yourself (about where you thought your writing was going before ending for the day) or about outlining before you even start, there’s a huge potential for getting more finished writing done.

Not everyone does well using that method. Some people really do benefit from having a few hours to sit and write, and it’s better for them to pump out 2k-3k a day for a few months and then spend the rest of the year doing other things (often editing or self-promotion).

The point here is that however you think writing is supposed to work, you can change it to suit your needs. You just need to figure out how you function best, and then be realistic if you can’t achieve it. Me? I write my best when I have music blasting and can just tune the world out for a few hours at a time. If I don’t have at least 3 hours blocked off, I’m going to end up getting a case of performance anxiety where I know I should be able to write anyway but the words just won’t come.

Don’t be me. I spent years thinking that I’d never be able to finish a single thing because my kids are usually knocking on my door at least once (at least) every three hours. Or, dinner took an extra thirty minutes to cook and whoops, there goes my writing time, so why bother sitting down to start?

It’s easy to talk yourself out of writing. You need to practice talking yourself into it.

Becoming a productive writer is the same as being a good writer. No one starts out like Hemmigway, and I think the writing profession has mostly been up-front about that in recent history. First drafts suck. What they aren’t telling you is that not everyone starts out just feeling a story inside them. I’ve never been consumed with a need to write, although I’ve had some rocking awesome ideas for a story. And because I didn’t have this burning NEED to sit down and write, I thought maybe being a writer was just a pipe dream. If I was a real writer, I’d be going crazy without writing. That’s what everyone says, after all.

No. No. All the no.

Being a writer is a desire just as much as it can be a passion. I am not less of a writer just because I usually have the laundry done and only occasionally have had to sniff my jeans while wondering if they were clean enough to wear again. Getting dinner cooked before 6:30pm is how I keep my house on a good schedule, and not burning dinner (on most nights) does not make me less of a writer than anyone else whose family is used to singed entrees.

I am me. I am a writer. No one can tell me otherwise. And no one can tell you otherwise, for that matter.

What we should all be doing is figuring out what kind of writer we want to be, and what kind of writer we are able to be. Everything else is just labels fabricated by Hollywood or from well-meaning writers who don’t want to be told they’re expected to be clean and tidy even if they want to write. (Remember, you are you! If you’re the messy, burning dinner type, that doesn’t make you less of a writer than me, either.)

Honestly, the only real downside to the “messy writer” narrative is that it can sometimes be fuel for imposter syndrome – we think we need to be a mess to have permission to call ourselves writers. And it can seem like those who fit into the stereotype have all figured out how to unlock Pandora’s box, and have become one of the cool kids.

I’m one of the nerds, and I’m a writer. I can be me, I don’t need to be you, and you don’t need to be me. We can all be writers.

Now let’s write.

July is Camp NaNoWriMo!
Looking for some writing motivation during July? Check out Camp NaNoWriMo – set your own goals, meet like-minded writers, and get a lot of words onto the page. Camp NaNoWriMo Website

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