This is my third post answering the writing prompt: What are three things you know 100% to be true? I covered running and happiness at work here and here. In this post I’m addressing the three things I know are 100% true about writing.
Writing fiction is hard. Like, really, really mindblowingly hard. I’ve done hard things before. I like doing hard things.
(Um . . . that sounds dirty. . . well. . . *clears throat* *avoids eye contact*. . . anyway. . .)
I took some crazy hard math classes in college. Differential Equations, Predicate Logic, Number Theory and every flippin’ Calculus course an undergraduate can take. None, not a single solitary one, holds a candle to the madness of writing fiction.
See, in math there are rules. If you know the rules, you know how to work the problem.
In fiction there are more suggestions than rules. Some of these suggestions/rules can be broken but only if you know they’re there in the first place. And just when you think finally, finally have your hands around all the rules BOOM! you learn a new one.
Writing fiction has tons of grey area, tons of gut feelings, tons of individual preference.
Writing is just so much squishier than math. So identifying three things I know to be 100% true about writing took some thought. Here’s what I came up with:
One: I get more done if I have a plan.
And by ‘plan’ I mean plotting.
If you’re anything like me your pantser-self just heard the word plot and curled up into a little ball of antipathy, hissing and spitting like a cat taking on a German shepherd. I hate plotting. Haaaate it. But I also recognize the value in it.
That’s not to say I accept plotting gracefully. I hem and haw and bitch and moan and whine my way through the whole process.
However, if I don’t have a plot before I start writing I get very lost very quickly which increases my chances of giving up on the story. So I plot.
Two: You have to start before you’re ready.
Because you’ll never be ready.
If I sit around waiting for *finger quotes* a mood or my muse or for inspiration to strike me I’ll never get anything done. You will never be ready enough. You will never be comfortable. You will never be completely confident that you won’t fuck it all up.
Shut up. Do it anyway.
Maybe it won’t come out right the first time. Or the second time. Or maybe, just maybe (and, here’s a nasty pill to choke down) it won’t ever come out right.
I repeat: Shut up. Do it anyway.
Finish what you start then move on to the next story. And the next one. You might never be ready but you can always keep learning and try to be the best writer you are capable of being.
Three: Rejection sucks but it won’t kill you.
As I type this I have an email response from an editor to one of my stories. The email basically says ‘thanks, but no thanks’. I haven’t done anything with this email yet because a) Saturday is my day to deal with returned stories and b) I’m not done sulking.
This is not my first rejection. It will not be my last. I have the same thoughts I always have when I get emails like this. Mean and destructive thoughts like I suck and This is never gonna happen. But come Saturday morning I’m going to get up, climb into my big girl panties and find another magazine to send that story to.
Yup, rejection sucks, but it isn’t terminal.
And here’s a bonus fourth thing I know to be 100% true about writing: I can’t not do it.
Every time I walk away from fiction I get another idea, another story that’s just begging to be told. I can’t leave it alone. I get all twitchy and manic.
So as infuriatingly hard as it is to write a story, it’s even harder to not write a story.
Ps. What do you know to be true about writing? Leave a comment!