I have a confession to make. This isn’t very easy for me to say… er… type, but I’m going to try anyway.
I’m a lost cause. I don’t write enough and what I do write stinks worse than a fat guys ass crack on a hot day when he hasn’t showered in a month. I also don’t read as much as I should. I’m still reading the same novel that I started back in September. (Actually I’m reading two novels, but who’s counting?)
Netflix and YouTube are consuming my life and my dreams. It’s so much easier to watch the stories that other people have made than to make my own. However, I still have these characters and plots burning a hole in my mind. Their stories are longing to be told, but I can’t seem to tell them. The things that I write pale in comparison to what’s going on in my head.
I think that it is safe to say that I have reached the point in my novel writing process where I am questioning my life choices.
Am I really meant to be a writer? Does this story make sense? Is this character fleshed out enough? Did I just create a paradox? Does that tie into the story at all or is it just nonsense? My character wouldn’t do that… would she? How come this seemed so much easier when I first started?
All of these questions and a million more are running through my head with every keystroke that I make.
The two main challenges that I am facing here are distractions and doubt. Something most people embarking on the journey of writing a novel are all too familiar with. They’ve become a constant for me. Swimming in my head like a dog eating a never ending bone. I know that I should be writing, but I’m doubting myself and letting distractions take over. (It’s most of the reason I haven’t posted in a while).
Each of us face these challenges, and each of us deal with them in different ways, but each way can be summed up into two different categories. You either fight through it like a warrior fighting for his princess locked in a tower, or you give into it and let them consume you like a snake consuming its dinner.
The ones that fight through it are the ones that are more likely to make it in this world of writing. They might not hit number one on the best sellers list, but they’ll get published and people will read their works. The ones that give into it… well, I’m sure you can guess what happens to them. Yep, that’s right. They’re snake food.
Right now I am at a crucial moment in my writing process. This is where I either fight through the distractions and doubt, or I give into it. I am going to fight through them and finish my novel, but first I have to figure out what exactly my challenges are.
Distractions are what I am facing more than doubt. I am losing my discipline to block out the distractions of the world and sit down to write. I’m focused on anything other than my novel. Tv, youtube, video games, facebook, school work, this blog, you name it and I am likely distracted by it. Like a toddler with ADHD I can’t focus on one thing for too long.
The best way I know to combat these distractions is to remove them from the equation… or at least limit them. These things are all things we strive on, but for a writer they are our biggest weakness. (At least for me they are). We get distracted by these things and our work in the world of fiction slips through the cracks. We tell ourselves that we’ll write tomorrow, but when tomorrow comes the cycle starts over and we never write.
So, how do we fix it? How do we turn the distractions off? Short answer? We don’t. I know what you’re saying, ‘But if we don’t turn the distractions off, won’t they keep us away from our writing?’ Well, yeah. If you let them. This is where discipline comes in.
You have to have the discipline to shut out the distractions of life and focus on your writing. You have to be like a celibate monk in a room full of hookers. Look the other way. Meditate and block the distractions out. I can’t tell you the best way to do this, but I can tell you how I am attempting to deal with it.
I’ve set up a reward system for my writing in a day. If I reach 500 words then I can spend fifteen minutes on Facebook. 1000 and I can watch a video on YouTube. 1500 and I can watch one episode of something on Netflix. 2000 and I can spend an hour playing video games. 5000 words and I can quit for the day and do whatever I like (I haven’t reached this one yet).
You see, I’m not turning off the distractions of life, I’m simply incorporating them into my writing routine. However, this won’t work if you don’t have the discipline to get back to your writing when you ‘reward time’ is over. I can’t help you get over that speed bump though. That’s something you have to fight for yourself. Be the warrior fighting for his princess. Don’t be the princess locked up in a tower with an internet connection who doesn’t even care about the warrior.
Now, there could be a reason that you find it so hard to tune out the distractions of life. That reason could be summed up in one word. Doubt. You’re doubting yourself and your ability to write. You’re letting that doubt consume you and scare you away from your dream of finishing your story. You know that you shouldn’t let doubt consume you, but often times doubt is too hard to fight.
If I am being honest with you (and I like to think I am), then let me tell you that I am having way more trouble with doubt than I am with distractions. (I know that I said distractions were what bothered me more, but that’s because I was ignoring the doubt that pushed me to go for the distractions).
I know that it is easier to say that you shouldn’t let doubt consume you than it is to actually fight doubt. The best thing I can say to do in order to fight your doubt is to ignore it. When those tinges of thought seep into your head telling you that you’re not good enough to be a writer, you ignore them and keep on typing. If you have to, take a minute or two or thirty and do something not related to writing (I suggest reading). Set a timer and be sure to pull yourself away from whatever it is that you’re doing and get back to work.
Well, as always, leave a comment and share how you combat the doubt and distractions that keep you from writing. Have a good day!!