Don’t Look Back

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jumpThis was me at the beach this weekend, and it was fantastic. One of the biggest things I have been learning in life lately is not looking back, and this plays strongly into writing.

Now don’t get me wrong; there’s plenty of health to be found in evaluating prior decisions and sifting through where you’ve come from, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the kind of looking back that drags you down, the kind that pulls your heart to your feet and makes you feel like you’re slogging through concrete. You know the kind I’m talking about.

You fight this every time you sit down to write, right? At least I do. I glance over the prior day’s work before starting on the new stuff and think, “Gosh, that sucks. Who wrote that? Me?! And I want to be a writer? Who am I kidding?!” The urge to edit rather than create is strong every morning. However, I am writing a rough draft, and that is not an option for me right now, or I will never finish. How do I know? Prior experience, of course.

So, here is what I do every morning:

1) I look over the prior days’ work to reconnect with where I was in the story

2) If I see obvious spelling or grammar mistakes, I fix them, but I do not allow myself to fix things like a “stupid phrase” or a “cheesy word” that I think is silly. Silly is the enemy of success. Silly is the enemy of completion. I may be writing silliness, but I’ll be the judge of that at revision time

3) I start creating. Right away. As soon as I’ve finished reading, I’m typing. I’m racing to get to that cozy place where I’m insulated by the story again, caught up with my characters and able to tune out everything else, especially myself.

4) I write until I have to leave. I don’t stop partway through and evaluate what I’ve written. I just keep going. When it’s time to go, I pack up my computer, I get in my car and I drive to work. Am I thinking of the story? Yes, but I’m thinking of where it’s going, what’s going to happen next and how excited I am to return to it the next morning.

This is the only way I can see myself through to completion. No looking back.

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