Writers—especially those working on their first books—tend to obsess over word count. Maybe that's because a manuscript's word count is one of its only truly objective elements. Character, plot, style, and voice are all difficult to define, and books change with each reader's response.
But a manuscript that is 82,749 words is exactly that. So it makes sense that writers want to control this aspect that we can control, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Why do we need to compare writing to Star Wars? Well, we don't . . . technically. Then again, we don't technically need coffee or puppies either, but I bet if I handed you a fresh cup of dark roast and a Labrador pupper, you wouldn't turn them down. So writers, please enjoy the Star Wars GIFs.
First drafts have exactly one job: to exist.
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The number one nemesis to any writer struggling to get that draft written is your inner editor. She's got a grating voice and constantly nags you about your grammar, your sentence structures, your plot development. "Change this. Fix that. Make it better."
William Faulkner said, "I only write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning."
I love this quote mainly because it emphasizes that waiting for inspiration is not the way to get things done. But it also promotes a common piece of advice in the writing world: Write every day.
"I'm not a real writer."
Sounds familiar, right? Anyone who has spent time writing or in the company of writers have likely said this or heard someone else say it. "I'm not good enough to call myself a writer. I'm not published. I'm not like [insert name of famous author here]."
According to Merriam-Webster, "The term 'impostor syndrome' can be traced to a 1978 article by the American psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, 'The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention.'"
A quote from their article:
As writers, we use our experiences to inform our characters' emotions—even when their experiences are different.
It's just like method acting, I thought one day. After all, how many times have I been in a bad mood after a writing a particularly difficult moment in a character's journey? My writing bleeds into my daily life. In a sense, I become these characters—I take on their emotions. Is that not the same as method acting?
A quick search of the term "method writing" shows that I am not the first to consider this.
If you've ever lifted weights or been in a room with someone who does, you know there is one thing that everyone loves to do and talk about. Whether we're talking about Olympic weightlifters or powerlifters, they all love max days and hitting PRs (personal records).
It feels great, and there's nothing like that adrenaline rush. But guess what? PRs don't happen overnight or by accident. They happen because of hard work and hours spent doing the stuff no one really wants to do. In other words, PRs happen because of rep days.
We all know the first draft is shit. (Hemingway said it, not me.) But does that make it any easier to put those stomach-churning sentences to the page? Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t.
For those days when you can’t seem to do anything but stare at a blinking cursor, here are five ways to smash through the wall of self-doubt and convince yourself to write that first draft—in all its typo-riddled, repetitive, ambiguity-filled glory.
Whether we’re trying to network, sell books, share expertise, or simply connect with other writers and readers, many fiction writers turn to blogging. It’s a natural move. We write—it’s what we do. (Anyone else read that in the GEICO voice?) But fiction writers face an unexpected challenge when it comes to blogging: writing in our own voice.
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