I always knew challenging stereotypes was, and still is, my secret hobby, but I didn’t know the rebel in me took a different path in everything. It has been seven months since I started taking my writing seriously, because I was convinced there was no other way I could survive on this planet. Writing provides comfort and relief, and it is the best feeling in the world when the words come tumbling out from wherever it is they reside in me.
I have a set routine; I show up to write everyday and over the course of seven months have managed to write more than 140,000 words. But I’ve found it a task more often than I would’ve liked too. I know writing means work, and it is the most serious and truthful commitment a writer makes, but don’t we all want work that doesn’t feel like work? These assignments we go around calling our dream jobs? Living off your passion is the best thing to do, and right now, as a school-going student, I don’t even need to think about making money.
I hate the part of writing where it starts to feel like work. I have no big project to do. My aim is to write 750 words everyday to practice writing essays and short stories. But my mind seems to be exhausted. My so called “writer’s notebook” is filled with ideas, but rarely do I refer to them. They’re just vague shapes and I don’t know what the end result is supposed to look like. I don’t sit on ideas enough, and maybe that’s why I’ve been feeling creatively drained for while.
There was a time in between when I showed up late to write and hitting 750 words was a drudge. So I started turning up on time, and the slow drudge transformed into an easy run. Many days it does, but I recently told myself that it’s not about the speed with which I write or my word count. It’s the words themselves that are most important, because the greatest of things can be said in the fewest of words.
Sometimes I have an idea of what I’m going to write, but since the last few weeks the Muse has been sitting there patiently for me to start. It is very embarrassing and shameful to disappoint her, but on those days it feels like I have the energy, but my mind is creatively drained.
Writers struggle to find the right words and the motivation to put those right words on paper, but it’s the other way round for me. I have all the motivation I need in the world to write because I’ve achieved a great writing streak and I don’t want to break it, and I don’t worry about the right words because I know that no one writes the right words in their first draft. They always arrive late, when you’ve reached the second draft.
The problem with me is, what I should give my words to? What do I write about? Sometimes I get an idea but after merely ten seconds of excitement, I realize it sounds stolen.
Sometimes it feels like I’ve said the same thing before, in other words.
I wish my Muse was a real breathing woman who could tell me that no matter how cliched it sounds or unoriginal it looks, it could still be good. Neil Gaiman once helped me when I asked him on tumblr the following question:
Me: I just wrote a short story and I really loved writing it. But when I read it, it sounded so cliched and plagiarized (it’s just a first draft). I love the story and I don’t want to throw it away. What do I do?
Neil Gaiman: The second draft.
I have been working on the second draft for longer than I should have. I edit some 500 words and then abandon the story for days. I still love that story and imagine it being my first published piece, but rather than focusing on the second draft, I worry about originality and ideas. I do have them, but the never take shape; they never become something.
But I’ve decided not let that stop me. I have been putting out more words every day and that means I’m thinking of more ideas even though they may not be completely novel. I’ve been rereading some of the writing from the last few months, and I see some treasures in there. They’ll need editing, of course, but they’re certainly worth something better.
Maybe I don’t need motivation to write; instead, I need it to rewrite. I cannot make excuses. If I’ve given myself to writing, then I ought to work hard.
You fail only if you stop writing. – Ray Bradbury