I began writing seriously when I was about 13. Many would ask what I was doing on my parent’s brick of a laptop that I would sneak away from the kitchen and into my room after supper. My only answer was that I was writing.
Short stories? Nope. Poetry? Definitely not. I was writing a novel.
After reading “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games” somewhere I figured, if Stephanie Meyer and Suzanne Collins could do it, why not me?
The entire manuscript that only made it to about 47 thousand words was quite possibly one of the most fun things I did during my day. I woke up at 6 a.m. I went to school where I was doing horribly in algebra. I rode the bus where I wrote down my new ideas for future scenes in a purple one subject notebook. When I got home, I am not going to lie, my math homework was the least of my worries.
I had a story to write. How would my characters ever realize that they were in a very dramatic reincarnation romance if I didn’t?
For hours I sat, legs dangling off the edge of my day bed, and let the heavy Toshiba burn my legs. I would watch the word count go up and up and up. These days, sitting for hours happily typing away without fear is a lot harder to come by.
As graduated from high school, went to college for English, transferred colleges, and finally graduated, there was a lot more fear coming from whenever I sat before a word document than any sort of muse. I would want to write, but there was something holding me back. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was causing me to feel this way.
There was so much pressure coming at me from every angle. I was in debt from student loans and constantly asked what I planned to do with the rest of my life. I had ideas, of course, but I didn’t know what for sure. The only thing I ever thought I was good at—the only thing I ever enjoyed—was writing. And that, as all writers have heard once or twice, isn’t a real job.
So, what was I supposed to do as I continued to be drowned in academia? I tried to write with no results but a few words here and there. I felt the extra sense of failure whenever I saw authors were my age publishing their debut.
Was it that I didn’t have time and felt rushed? Was I simply not supposed to be a writer?
That last question did a lot more harm than good. I continued to push myself to write. I made sure to still call myself a writer even though a hundred words felt as painful as writing a dreaded essay about puritan American Literature. I felt like I was trying everything. Year after year during school I would try NaNoWriMo and fail miserably halfway through. I would try to find a perfect spot in the library. I’d put on comfy clothes and turn on my writing playlist I painstakingly made.
Most of the time, I would only end up procrastinating in some creative way or another.
I had a story to tell. That, I knew. I had characters and setting and plot that was still forming if only I could make my fingers move across the keyboard the way they used to. This all was key, and one day it began to click.
If I am going to be a writer. I needed to write.
Shocking revelation, I know. It was also a mind numbingly painful one. It was not as if I hadn’t been trying for some time now to write. I writing in such a “make or break” sort of way that I felt I had no room for error.
Now though I am finally getting back into the groove. Some days are definitely better than others when I sit down at my computer and plan to write. Some days I still feel that what I am writing isn’t enough and others I am grateful to even be back in the writing game. I am grateful that by sitting myself down and typing, there is now the possibility for me to succeed eventually.
In the past few months of getting back into the mindset of a “serious writer” like my thirteen year old self was, I have been noticing a few tips to keep me in a writing headspace, making it all the more easy to jump back onto the page when I am ready.
Surprisingly, younger me was the one who started many of these tips first. Now, I am remembering them and how I used to love writing again, slowly but surely.
Keep a Notebook
Tried and true, this is a tip that I come back to. All throughout high school I had a designated journal that any thought about life or writing would go into. Think of it as a messy common place book. There is nothing you can put inside of it that is wrong. Doodle, talk about your day, write a scene of your novel you cannot stop thinking about even if for now it is only dialogue.
Also be sure to keep your notebook close. You never know where you will be when inspiration does strike, and you won’t want to miss it. I can’t tell you how many times I find myself zoning out on a car ride or lying in bed before I fall asleep. I come up with ideas I tell myself I will remember when I get home or in the morning only for them to be lost into the creative void.
Make the Time
People always asked me in school how I ever found time to read. I didn’t actually know a great answer for them, I just made the time whether it be during lunch hour or before bed. Now it is time to make time for writing. Put aside an hour a day if you can. Some people do this right when they wake up. Others make sure that they sit down to work for a period of time before they can go to bed.
As of now, I am usually a night writer. But some days, I don’t write at all. It is all a balancing act to get back in the groove. Eventually the goal for writing to become creative habit rather than something hanging over your head, making you feel pressure. We want the opposite of that.
However, if you do open up your laptop and find yourself sweating, start small. Fifteen minutes is still fifteen minutes of words on the page. Or it is fifteen minutes of staring at the blinking line on your document page mocking you.
Be Kind To Yourself
Please please be kind to yourself. It is much easier to feel like a failure than a success. Writing is not easy. Writing is backbreaking emotionally taxing work, like most art. But writing, do not let yourself forget, can also be so much fun once you get into it. I cannot tell you how many times I have found myself geekily laughing at my own jokes I write up for my characters.
Give yourself the credit for the hard work you do conquer in your writing. Take breaks. Make some tea or coffee. Pet a dog. Decompress.
You have a long wrong ahead of you writing a novel. But man, it is going to be a great story.