If you feel lost with your writing, know you’re not alone.
It sucks to have a half-finished manuscript laugh at your face.
The scribbled sentences start to taunt you, and the blank pages stare back with contempt.
Or maybe you are just starting out. You are paralyzed with indecision as ideas float around in your mind making you afraid to start.
But the truth is, no writer on the planet has everything figured out, even if they act like they do (especially online).
The Common Thread For All Writers
Fear plays a very large role in the writing process, and stories change as you write them.
No writer writes the book they first envision in their head.
Your interests may change in the blink of an eye — especially if you spend too much time online.
The best writing advice in the world starts with two words: just write.
But please allow me to elaborate — you also have to be willing to suck. You have to write even when every part of you wants to stop and go do something else.
Even when you start to hate every word you’ve written, you need to finish.
The perfectionist inside your head is your worst enemy.
You do not really know until you finish something if a piece is good or not. But the inner critic acts as if you know how the puzzle looks before it is actually finished.
Ignore the inner critic, and keep your head down. Put words on the page.
Don’t forget that 99.99% of all rough drafts absolutely suck. They do. Rewriting is what makes your stories shine. But no editor can help you with a story that is not finished.
Complete the rough draft. Make it better later.
Clarity only comes with hard work. You must put in the work. There is no substitute. This could mean spending 8 hours on a blog post that gets no traction. Spending a month on a short story that is mediocre. Or even spending a year or two on a novel that never comes close to a best seller list.
Finish The Story
It doesn’t have to be perfect. Remember, writing and editing are two very different tasks.
Writing is moving the sand into the sandbox.
Editing is using tools to move the sand to make sandcastles.
Writing is really messy by nature.
Editing is cleaning up the mess.
Writing is a child at play in art class.
Editing is what happens after the paint dries. Maybe you decide to add more colors or throw on another coat of paint.
Don’t believe the lie that once you have created the first draft, your work is finished. That is a lie.
The creative process is messy. Your brain rarely works in order. The middle blurs together with the end. What you thought was the beginning is really the middle.
Be willing to embrace the mess. Let your fear of creating something that is not perfect go.
Three Words That Change Everything
Author Steven Pressfield says that artists need to “Trust the soup.”
This means letting go of the idea of having control when you create.
Our job is to stir the pot and to add ingredients and spices.
Once you’re done, you serve it to your intended audience.
A Final Word
Sounds a little scary, right?
That’s because it is.
But look in the rearview mirror. You’ve finished your work before in the past.
When you think about it, you even have an approach that you’ve used before — one that you know works.
It’s a fact. You know how to do this. You’ve done difficult things before.
You know what to do.
Now you just need to go do it.