Pushing Through the Hard Writing

Day 21 Wordcount: 3093 (Glint of a Ruin, Short Story #6)

And the story is FINISHED! It took all day, but it’s done. What a relief!

This story wasn’t easy. It fought me every step of the way, but I kept at the 100-word sprints to get it done. In talking with another author about having to sometimes force the words out, it brought something to mind.

The idea that if it feels like the words are force that it must automatically be bad writing. That one shouldn’t keep pushing, because it will show. This goes along with the idea that one should only write while ‘inspired.’

I don’t agree with that attitude, even though when I was a newbie writer I did believe it. Because I’ve now proven to myself that it is not true.

For another perspective, see Dean Wesley Smith’s blog article about “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Writing is Hard”

The most recent personal example came in November of 2009. Right at the beginning of National Novel Writing Month I caught the flu. And it was the worst flu I’ve ever had in my life. That was the year everyone was running scared of the H1N1 bird flu pandemic. I was tested for it, and it came back negative. I’ve often wondered if it was a false negative. Because it just went on and on.

My fever kept going up. In fact it was the highest fever I’ve ever had. But it was Nano, darn it, and I was going to keep writing, no matter what! I had 50,000 words to write and I couldn’t stop for 2 weeks while waiting to get over the flu.

And I did. Right through the fever, and the coughing, and the feeling miserable. Even though I knew I was just a touch delirious. It was forced. I didn’t feel like writing. But I kept moving forward.

I finished not only Nano, but the book. About half of it was written while feverish and feeling like I wanted to do nothing. There was NO inspiration.

When I went to revise the novel in early 2010 I found something very odd. I couldn’t tell the parts where I had to force myself to write while sick and the parts I wrote while well. No difference between the parts that felt ‘inspired’ and those that took work to write.

However, by then I was writing regularly. The head knew when I sat down and opened a document it better get at least several hundred words down before it could do anything else. The head was trained.

It takes time to do that and have enough confidence to keep going even while it feels like it’s not going well. To know that the majority written while ‘forced’ is going to be as good as anything written at a different time.

Professional writers do not wait to write until they feel like it or they feel ‘inspired.’ They write. That’s why they are called ‘writers.’

I’m determined to be a professional writer. That means writing when I feel like it and when I don’t.

It’s the different between a professional writer and a hobbyist.

Oh, and the book in question? It’s “Into the Forest Shadows” which is now published and starting to get good reviews.

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The challenge in question is the Forward Motion May “Story-A- Day” challenge. See my previous post about the rules. The goal is to achieve the 10 short story level.

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