Unorthodox Writing Tips 16: Doing what’s hard
Let’s be honest with each other for a minute, shall we?
It’s far easier to eat a pint of ice cream than it is to write 1000 words.
Here’s the difficulty though. I can eat a pint of ice cream. I enjoy it from the first spoon to the last. My favorite is Cherry Garcia. I love to sit and eat ice cream and watch TV. It’s easy to do. Requires little effort. When I’m done, though, I feel full and lethargic and also feel bad that I didn’t accomplish anything. Sure I enjoyed my ice cream, but where did that get me?
I also have an issue with my weight so now I feel even worse because I’ve just eaten far more calories than I should have. It’s a snowball that builds and builds quickly and to fend off those bad feelings, I’ll eat more to make me feel better. Why do I do that?
It’s quite simple. Feeling full gives me a feeling of bliss. It triggers my brain to say that it was a pleasurable experience. Sure I’ll feel worse later, but for the moment I feel good. That’s what matters, right?
Let’s look at this from another direction. I love to write. Writing 1000 words is difficult. It takes a long time. I don’t always feel better when I’m done writing because I haven’t finished what I’m working on. I’m only somewhere in the middle after that 1000 words. I know I’ll have to write ANOTHER 1000 words later. I can find any number of things that’ll make me feel good NOW! Why should I wait?
Simple, the feeling of accomplishment when you’re done with a manuscript feels incredible. It’s far better than eating a pint of ice cream. It’s something that lasts also and doesn’t make me feel worse later. I can honestly say that having written many books and finished a large number of short stories, I still feel good about what I’ve accomplished. Sure I don’t have a book deal, but I know that’s my fault, not the fault of anyone else. I felt so good about getting done that I didn’t follow through to the next step because that’s also hard.
It’s hard to submit a completed work to a publisher or agent. Before I can do that I need to do edits and re-writes. Again, I need to look at the long term results. How will I feel when someone does finally pick up one of my books or short stories for publication? I have a feeling this will be an even bigger elation than completing that work. It will be the final validation of what I started. Yes it’s a very long, very hard road, but it’s a road that must be traversed.
Where am I going with this? It’s about short term feelings, and long term feelings. I can feel good for a moment. I can feel good today. Or I can work toward a long term goal, fight, struggle, claw, and fight my way to ‘The End’ and feel good for a very long time. When I tell people I’ve written 10+ novels, the look they give me is one of incredulity. They don’t believe it. Sure it’s taken me nearly 20 years to write those books and I’ve had many stops and starts, but I’ve got many more in the hopper and with each I’ve written, the next comes that much easier. The same goes with short stories. It’s something that I will always have. Ice Cream is here today, gone tomorrow and I don’t feel better about myself.
Take a look at where you want to be. Write down what you hope to accomplish with your writing. Make a commitment to yourself and write. It doesn’t have to be a lot every day. It will be a difficult road to follow. Trust in the fact that many people have gone before you and it is possible. Forgo the easy path to feeling better which we all know only leads to feeling worse in the long run and take that path that will lead to long term happiness. You can do it. Let me know how your progress goes. I’d love to hear from you.
Until Next Time!