The last time I attempted any creative writing was November 2014 for National Novel Writing Month. I didn’t “win” NaNo that year. I got 20,000 words in and quit. I’m not sure why I wasn’t writing after that. I know that depression was a factor starting maybe in late 2015 or early 2016. But even after I got the depression under control, I still wasn’t writing. I didn’t even think about NaNo from 2015-2017.
This past NaNo, a good friend asked if I’d read his work and give my thoughts. I did. Then he sent another book and asked for some editing. So I did it. And I LOVED it. Not only do I love it, I’m also pretty good at it. Developmental editing and line editing. It makes me happy.
Part of me getting good at it was reading a blog called Plot to Punctuation, which is geared not toward editors, but writers. I followed up with the Manuscript Makeover, also for writers, not editors.
Reading those made me think, “I wonder if I could write well following these guidelines.” I hemmed and hawed a little bit. My biggest issue with writing is that I feel like if I can’t get it right the first time it goes down on paper, I’m not a good writer.
BUT! I reminded myself that all writers have to edit. Reading and editing my friend’s work showed me that. I’ve read his finished products and enjoyed them immensely. Now I know that they undergo an editing process to get there.
It makes sense. While writing, the ideas just flow, sometimes faster than your hands can type them. Transitions get left out, descriptions are thin. A story starts one way, but as the characters come alive, they change the story to suit their personalities. A writer has to go back once it’s all down to smooth the edges, give the reader a better picture, and fix the plot. What was important at the beginning may not matter to the story at the end.
February 1 I started doing creative writing prompts – one each day. My goal is 50,000 words/month, just like with NaNoWriMo. That means over 1600 words per day. The first two days were rough. My thoughts felt like they were trying to run in mud. Ideas just didn’t flow. It got a little better, but I was still having to reach in and pull. Then, on the 6th, things just took off.
My fingers were flying over the keys again! The ideas were coming so fast that I didn’t have time to worry about whether my grammar was right or if I was doing too much telling instead of showing. On the 6th I wrote 2925 words in the time it took to do 1600 the first day. Last night, I wrote over 4900 words! I didn’t even notice how long it took. The story just kept writing itself.
None of these are things that I will ever do anything with. I won’t edit them. I won’t even read them again. I just wanted to see if I could find the flow again. At the top of my writing game, I could do 700 words in a 10-minute word sprint. It finally felt like that again.
I really thought I’d lost it and that I wouldn’t find it again. I committed myself to a full month, regardless of how it was going. I wasn’t sure, but believed that if I just kept writing, it would get better. I do think that making myself write every day really was the key to unlocking the creativity.
Now I’m wondering if this kind of thing will help in other areas as well. I need to look at the things I do on a regular basis and see what I’d like to improve on (probably everything). I know graphic design is something I would like to get better at and that requires using the tools regularly. I guess I can start there.
I guess the moral of the story is: Just. Keep. Going.