Monday, November 7, 2011


When people talk about what a writer needs, it always seems to go something like this:

1. an idea
2. an ability to string together a sentence (with talent helps, but is certainly not necessary).
3. time to write
4. passion
5. dedication

I'm here to add one thing to the list: perseverence.

Yes, this is certainly mentioned in blogs and topics where the goal is finding an agent and a publisher. But even if you're not querying or looking to get published, a giant dose of perseverence is mandatory.

First of all, you have to stick with the story. Sure, I have a dozen stories I started that are now anywhere from 30 pages to 150 pages. But if I'd stuck with them, they might have been something. Now they never will be. Maybe some of them didn't really need to be written. Some of them were abandoned for another more pressing idea. Some of them just took too long and I ran out of steam. That's bad. I don't want to abandon a story that has potential just because I lose interest in it. But sometimes it happens to me. First drafting is like a fever of creativity--if I don't capture it when it's fresh, it gets stale and sometimes fades. That's why I can do an entire first draft in a week or two, and why it's not uncommon for me. Of course, having a job does tend to get in the way of that. Too often real life obligations crowd out writing time, and the story goes stagnant for me.

And then, if I get the first draft done before the creativity runs dry, I have to go back and edit. Sometimes, I put this off for, oh, a year or so. Because I hate one of the editing steps. I call it my 'passive voice' edit, where I go through the entire novel trying to root out all those was'es and am's. I can put this off for months. I can start a passive voice edit and finish it six months later. I will try any means of procrastination to avoid sitting down and rooting those little buggers out. It's the head-lice case of the writing process. Nit-picking, fine tooth comb, all that stuff. Adding and deleting scenes is a breeze, perfecting the voice of each character, all that is fun stuff. But that dreaded edit makes me want to scream. But if I do it, if I stick it out and plow through, the book is better. It has to be done.

So now I'm going back to editing. I'm going to stop procrastinating. I will persevere.

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