Writing at my parents’ house does come with a few distractions…
So far, I’ve experienced some really strange mentalities while in the middle of the drafting process. Leading up to the draft, it’s all preparation and planning and anxiety about actually starting to write. Now that I’m in the middle of the process, there are several different trails of thought pulling me in different directions.
One layer of thought is just trying to keep the inner editor from destroying everything with his doomsday prophecies. I just have to keep up the mantra of, “First draft. First draft. Revision is coming. First draft. Crappy first draft.” In the moments when I am sure I am spewing the worst trash to ever be inflicted upon humanity, I just keep telling myself, “First draft.” Which is true, and it works, but it does zap some of my energy.
While that fight is going on, another layer of thought is surging ahead, imagining the finished draft and potential success in all its glory. Part of me wants to criticize this kind of thinking, since it emphasizes “success” as the only reason to create, which is just not right. But the other part of me realizes that visualizing success is a great motivator, especially when it makes me more impatient to finish—and thus better able to push through the resistance.
So is thinking about the hypothetical future success of a story a boon or a bust?
As I said above, the good thing is that it can help keep you motivated. Whatever your idea of success—reviews on your fanfic, getting published, impressing your former teachers, etc.—thinking about it can help increase your engagement with your current project. Now you can envision the specifics of that success, and use it to fuel your desire to get this project done.
However, there are some pretty big pitfalls here.
First, the danger that comes with any visualizing of success, which is that you can spend so much time thinking about the positive emotions that could come with success that you feel too lazy to actually go out and get it. On some level, you feel like you’ve already achieved it. This is what my horoscope seemed to address so well, and it made me question my habit of daydreaming so frequently.
The second danger is the more immediate one, and that is the fact that when you start putting your specific story into your daydreams of success, you might feel like it doesn’t quite measure up. Especially when you’re just working through the first draft and it’s not that great. A component of feeling like you’ve already succeeded is the feeling that, within the specifics of this project, you’ve already failed. And it’s hard to keep going when you feel like you’re dead on arrival.
For me, I’m going to take the side of not imagining future success while in the middle of the draft. It makes the job of fighting the inner editor that much harder. And I also think it’s important to look at writing and creating as a process of growth, and to think of a writing career as a multifaceted evolution that may not hinge on this project alone. That way, I don’t put too much extra pressure on the draft at hand.
Keep daydreaming if it helps keep you motivated—but I’m going to avoid daydreaming specifically about this project’s potential success.