Resisting the Pressure to Just Put Words on the Page
The other day I heard someone say that if you’re not writing, then you’re not a writer. Now I fully understand the overall message of what they were trying to say: that to get anywhere as an author you do need to have something written down. You can’t (generally) just tell someone about your wonderful idea and become an author. You do need to write something, at some point.
But I also admit that hearing this person say that comment really got my back up. It just felt very judgemental to me, and I know, logically, that the person was trying to be inspiring, but that’s not how I felt. I felt judged for the fact that I don’t sit down and write a paragraph or two every day.
Now, I also know that this also comes from my own feelings of self-doubt about my writing, and my writing process. But it does also tie into a bigger issue for me – the idea that there is a ‘right way’ to write. In truth this theme is spreading across a whole range of topics as I get older – I’ve started to realise that there’s no ‘right way’ to do anything in this life, and while sometimes I am swayed by the societal expectations around me, I have decided that when it comes to my writing, I am happy to go against the grain.
And it got me wondering about the writing process in general, and personally I’ve come to the firm conclusion that thinking about writing does count. In fact, for me it’s a very important part of the process. I spend a lot of time thinking about my novels, sometimes without me really even knowing about it. I definitely spend more time thinking about things than I do actually writing, and that’s because by the time I get round to write something I’ve basically already done the work – at that point it just flows and that is a seriously wonderful feeling.
I don’t even make notes as I think about things typically. I just let the ideas tumble about in my brain until I fell ready to put them down. The only exception to this is when the same idea/word/phrase keeps popping up in my mind – that’s normally a signal to me that I’ve hit on something that just needs to be in the book.
So what’s the takeaway of this post? Well, as with all of my ramblings the key is that when it comes to Becoming an Author, it’s your journey so do it your way. But more specifically, this post is for those people who are convinced they’ll never be a writer because they haven’t yet written a word – this is far from true. Every day you are writing your story, and one day you will be ready to get it on paper, and when you do it’s going to be amazing, so keep dreaming about your story and let it grow before you put it down.