Friday, June 12, 2015

Improvement and Grit

Something that I've been working very hard on is improving my craft. I haven't had any stories published as of yet, which means, as far as I'm concerned, I'm not good enough yet. I think I've reached the level of writing where, with enough polishing, I am competent as a writer. But since there are plenty of "good" and "pretty good" writers in the world, I need to be better. And so, I keep working on it.

I've identified a lot of issues with my writing. Issues that frustrate me. I use a lot of filler words in early drafts. And I tend to rewrite my stories at least twice before I'm happy with them. A story that I sent to Emma Maree to beta read a while back, I have since decided I need to (partially) rewrite. The whole beginning gotsa go.

I've been reading a lot about grit lately. About how it's necessary to succeed. And I follow incredibly motivated people on Twitter: Myke Cole, Kameron Hurley, Matt Wallace, Chuck Wendig. These are all hard working writers. Myke's whole internet persona is about being a no-fun-until-work-is-done boss. Kameron Hurley writes thousands of words a week in hours-long marathon sessions. Matt Wallace's writing philosophy is writing is as much a job as a plumber or electrician. And Chuck Wendig is actual a living golem made of books--he just occasionally breaks one off and sends it to a publisher while another regrows--like picking apples from a tree, really.

These people are my inspiration, and they scare the shit out of me because they are all talented, productive, and have more grit than an ocean floor. Their follow through inspires me, but also makes me want to throw my hands in the air and shout, "Oh fuck it, I can't compete with THAT!"

I worry that I don't have enough grit. I get easily frustrated with a lot of things in my life. I'm so good at procrastinating, I'd win gold if it were an Olympic event--except for the fact that I probably wouldn't show up because I'd be stuck traffic after leaving my house late because I wanted to watch just ONE MORE YouTube video.

And yet, I still write. Not every single day. Sometimes I quit. I've quit for weeks at a time. But I always end up itching to create SOMETHING. I can't help it. I don't know how not to.

I also care very deeply about getting better. I pore over blogs, articles, and books about how writers improve their craft. I find new ways of approaching plots, characters, story-structures, outlining, brainstorming, etc. I've yet to find a process that I feel fits me, but I'm learning.

I'm trying to let myself be imperfect. This is very hard for me because when the words on the page don't match the vision in my head, I want to chuck the computer in the street and take up something more productive like basket weaving. Maybe it's because I care so much about writing that I struggle so much. But I care too much about it to stop, and if I'm not going to stop, then I have to be better.

Lately I feel like I've plateaued, like I'm spinning my wheels and going nowhere. And because of that, I'm trying to push myself, to try new approaches and tricks. The big thing that I need to keep in mind, that I fail so often to keep in mind, is that it's okay to try and fail. Failure is how you learn. It's how you get better.

And if I do fail? I need to learn from it and keep moving forward. Because I never learned how to sit still.