Remember when you first learned how to ride a bike without training wheels? I couldn’t wait to get those wheels off and be like the big kids. When the training wheels came off, I fell more than a few times. The rose bush hurt the most. True story! I careened full throttle into my mother’s red rosebush next to the driveway. To this day, I won’t plant a rosebush next to a driveway, walkway or any other way where a person could get harmed! There were some thorns to pick out of my leg and I still have a slight scar on my leg that only I can see because I know it is there.

Of course, I eventually moved up to a ten-speed bike and then I had to learn how to use the brakes and balance. One time, I hit a crack in the street and went flying into grass. Lucky for me my pants were torn and a minor cut was the only issue.

The last year, I’ve watched my youngest bike faster than ever even with training wheels on this tiny bike. Next year, she’ll still need them but I’m sure will want to be like the big sister or other kids who don’t have them. 

Thinking of being a kid and learning how to bike, I realize I was so focused on the goal that I didn’t enjoy the journey of biking all that much. Maybe I did and I just have over-simplified the process as an adult. However, I noticed that lately I’ve haven’t been enjoying the journey I’m on now which is writing my first manuscript.

After some thought on this, I realized I want to enjoy it. Just like my pregnancy, I want to savor the daily growth of a baby on her way in the near future. My other baby, my manuscript, is also growing in word count. The problem? I’m not enjoying the journey since I’m worrying about everything I’ve been learning.

The stream of thoughts go something like this:
  • Word count matters. How many words did I type in the last hour? (Checking...)
  • Voice. Can I hear my writer voice? 
  • What will I do for the next chapter?  I need to outline. Wait, I can just wing it! 


The thoughts were overtaking my creative mind and I had  lost that enjoyment of writing. Perhaps I spent too much time trying to learn how to write this way or that.

I want to enjoy the journey of being a new writer learning the ins and outs of the publishing world or the new options that await us. For any new writer, there are more options than ever for getting a book published. If you realize this, you know that no matter what, you can end up having your novel done and published even if it is only in an e-book format. That goal is the destination.

With that thought, I realized that this journey I’m on now will happen to me only once in my life. There will be only one time I get to write my first manuscript. Even if I don’t publish it, I want to finish it.

The age to use to training wheels goes by quickly. My kids are proving that time flies. In a matter of months, we can write our hearts out and lose that first time feeling of our first completed manuscript. No matter how painful the process may be, how many falls we make, or scars we my have at the end – we only get to be the newbie one time.

So let’s finish it but enjoy the journey along the way but stay away from rosebushes! 

 
 Even though I didn’t participate in #NaNoWriMo, I can relate to having a plan to write X number of words within a certain time. I’ve always been goal oriented. What I had to learn along the way, especially as a former manager of direct reports, is that I can’t let a missed goal become more of a distraction. That thinking has, in the past, caused me to delay any additional positive movement to attain the goals set after the missed goal. The chain reaction would spin me farther down the negative black hole. I’ve had this struggle the last few months due to health reasons but even before that I would miss goals. Either way, I’m still frustrated that my first draft sat around this long with the word count needle nearly stuck in the same position.

When that feeling of hopelessness creeps into our brains (and many of us writers hit this wall now and again), we need to hit the brakes before we head face first into the palms of our hands and give up hope!

During the last 24 hours, many of my writing friends have been bummed with missing their goal (especially some who aimed to complete the #NaNoWriMo challenge). What we as writers must realize is that even if we missed the goal, we should celebrate any accomplishment. Don’t celebrate to the point that we make excuses though but rather think about how many more words we have because of having the goal in the first place! No matter how small that word count is, it is more than what you would have otherwise. What was the starting word count? Zero. Now what do you have? More than zero I hope. If not, there must be a reason to explore. (For me, October was a near zero because I got that pesky blood clot/ DVT in my left leg.)

Lately, I’ve been diving back into writing my first draft. For example, I had a goal of 1Kaday over Thanksgiving and I got a whopping 2245 words written (sarcasm may not be clear here but it's there). It’s frustrating, but I let the fun of the holiday distract me. I have kids and they are getting older. Whatever the reason, I am accountable for that goal being missed.

I’ve learned that I wish I had a higher number to celebrate. At least I have more than what I had though.

The number one rule is to remember this feeling of guilt and learn from it. If we want to be a writer, we must write. Therefore, I am accountable to my individual goal of being just that – a writer. If I continue down the path and delude myself then I will have to be accountable either way. On the flipside, if I learn from this I can set perhaps a more realistic goal over the time I take off in December. 

I am accountable to take action to meet the goal of finishing the first draft. Step by step, word for word. It is all up to me. Given the last few months, I had to move out the timeframe a bit. I refuse to let one missed goal stop me from what the final goal is – my first finished draft.
  • Remember, don’t let one missed goal derail you from the overall goal.
  • Learn from missed goals.
  • Revisit your goal planning to plan realistic, attainable goals. 
  • Celebrate the goals along the way.
  • Keep writing with the long-term, high-level goal in mind. Every milestone counts.
  • You are accountable to yourself as a writer (first draft, revised manuscript, or whatever the end goal may be).
 
Today’s blog is short in comparison to Tuesday’s because it was one of those days I struggled to get all my thoughts in order. Now that I’m back into writing again, I have had to figure out where to begin (again).

What I am currently struggling with is with the list of ideas I have for various scenes and I’m overwhelmed. I want to write them all – now. It’s a great feeling but definitely not doable. Facing the reality, I was procrastinating one particular scene I had left in the dust. Rather than put it off any longer, I followed my instincts and used one of my “trick yourself Crystal” moments to get some writing traction.

What I did is what some may say is a form of procrastination. For me, it could be that but I do my best to use this trick sparingly. I started doing research on one particular scene that involves a dress. This dress is just that – a dress in a scene that needs to be written next.

Once I thought of the dress and designing it…and how it played into my character’s life experience then I found the sweet feeling of creativity flowing. My heart raced and my fingers were going faster and faster on the keyboard. 

What I’ve found with me is that when I hit a “writing” wall, I gravitate to details. Perhaps thinking of a detail in your story could spark a revolution of creativity.

Here’s a list of how to do this at a high level (looking at an area of your WIP that is need of depth):
  • Focus on a particular section of the story, not an entire chapter. For me, I find I'll read the last two pages at most.
  • Search for it if you have to it. Read it as objectively as possible and ask questions of yourself as a reader. Would I want to know more? How would such a small detail impact my story? 
  • Think about stories you love to read again and again. Was there a small detail in the story that let you in to the character’s life more than you would expect? What did it tell you about the development of the story or other characters? 
  •  Is there some detail or item in the story that occurs often enough to lend itself to be more important than it seems?
  • Brainstorm. Write anything that comes to mind.
  • Use your senses. Do your best to view your scene through the eyes of characters. Would their view change the item’s significance?
  • Write and don't stop about that item. Let it go and see what happens. It may not mean anything. Or, it may just give you that moment in the story that takes us a ride we never expected. 
While reading, I look for those small diamonds in the cave of the story…the hidden places where you can figure out more about a character and dive deeper. It usually can show more about where the story is going. Someone reading this may not think that the dress I'm obsessing over means much. In fact, it may not in the end. What matters is that it got me going again. 
But, I think many writers will understand how I could obsess over something that is seemingly insignificant. 

Has anyone used this approach to get the writing creativity thoughts going again? If you try it, let me know if helped. I’d love to hear your feedback! 

    Author

    By day listen to voice of the customer / client loyalty. Rest of my life listen to my protagonist & write her story. YA fantasy, mystery #writer. Live w/ #DVT..

    Blog posts are Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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