A good way to approach writing is to separate it into two parts: the writing, and then everything that comes after. And you don’t think about the latter while immersed in the former. At least, I’m working on that strategy, because I’m starting to think it’s vital.

But when “writer” is the only job you really want, and so you’re hoping to make it financially viable (even on the smallest scale) as soon as you can, it can be difficult to get thoughts of the “after” out of your head. This isn’t even about “success” on any grand scale; I really have started to get over that. It’s just about recognizing that you do want to be published at some point… ideally, somewhat soon.

Thinking about that fact, however, can completely derail the writing itself in all sorts of ways. It adds pressure and expectations to what and how you write, beyond the doubts and uncertainty that accompany even the simplest and most personal artistic endeavors. It makes every idea “the one,” which then makes you question that idea to death.

All of this is to say that I’ve been so desperate for productivity, and so frustratingly unproductive, that I’ve started to think what I truly need right now is practice. A story that may (but probably will not) go on to anything other than being written, a story that can help boost my confidence that I might actually be able to do this, and a story that will hopefully teach me a lot of things along the way. Most importantly of all, a story which I am viewing as practice and not as publication material.

And yet… even knowing how valuable such an exercise would be, I find my foolish and temperamental brain feeling uncertain about “wasting” the time. Even racing through a rough first draft will take months, and a lot of will power and dedication and commitment, qualities I’ve never had a good grasp on. How am I supposed to find and maintain those qualities without the motivation that publication provides? I know this exercise would be SO good for me… and yet the stubborn part of my mind can’t quite commit to it.

I’m getting to the point where it’s almost this (a practice story with little intention to publish) or giving up on writing altogether. I know that sounds dire and dramatic, and I suppose I don’t mean altogether, but I mean as a viable career in anywhere close to the near future. Because I’m NOT WRITING… and I’m starting to worry that means I don’t really want to write at all. And that feeling, of apathy and malaise and disappointment and frustration, that feeling might suck years out of my life. In some ways, it already has. And so even months of “wasted” time on a “practice” story would be well worth it, if it showed me that on some level I can do this.

I already have a story fairly well plotted out. I have characters, and the major plot points, and all the worldbuilding done. Other than a more rigorous outline, I know exactly where and how to start and where to go. Everything I need. Of course, I have doubts about its viability, about how much I actually like it, and about whether I can write it at all—but that’s why it would be a practice attempt, and not the real thing.

I should do it. I’m going to do it. I’m going to try to do it.

…Sigh. What I really need is a new brain.


About J. Sevick

Just write.
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