My return to writing

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I must be afraid. I started the 500 word writing challenge way back in August, 6 months ago. I missed only one day out of the first thirty. Now it’s the 53rd day of the New Year, and I’m writing for just the second time. February 22nd. The only other day I wrote this year was on February 9th. Well, at least I’m writing in the same month! Beats the hell out of January!

What is the fear? I think it’s not that I can’t write. I know I can put words together well. But I think it may be that I can’t write like I WANT to write. I don’t know if I can write consistently for 300 pages or so. I want to write a novel. The longest thing I’ve ever written is probably around 20 pages worth, and that would have been term papers for college. Research papers, not exactly original content through and through. Maybe I’m afraid of the work? It’s a lot of work writing like that every day. Maybe I’m afraid of the rejection of my work? I think partially, I’m afraid of my own rejection of it. Any time I’ve written a story longer than 2 or 3 pages I find something wrong with it. Usually I feel like I just tied it up too quickly. I’m also afraid I can’t write good dialogue. I find it too forced and stilted. I may be my own worst critic.

I don’t know what to write. I remember when I first started the challenge I just assumed that by the end of 30 days I’d have an idea for a novel, and would almost assuredly be started on it. Now I’m just… lost? I don’t know. I feel better when I write, but I just won’t make myself do it. I never finish writing and say “That was a waste of time”. During this process I’ve learned more of what I like and don’t like. I like REAL language. That must be why I like Hemingway and Elmore Leonard. Hemingway wrote the way people talk. There really is no need for a lot of verbosity. I remember reading an article by Leonard where he mentioned an author (I can’t remember her name) and how he had to stop and go get a dictionary to look up a word as she was making a simple description. I think many people mistake using unusual words with good writing. Don’t only use one syllable words though! But use a word that people know, if it will suffice.

“It is one thing to speak much. It is another to speak well”! I need to remember that…

Whenever I’ve had to write something longer, even 20 pages, I’ve mostly done the actual writing in one sitting. I’d get my research, string stuff together; maybe even spend a few different days on my rough draft, but when I actually wrote it, it was almost always in one sitting. Once I switched from typewriters to computer I usually did my editing as I wrote, even, so there wasn’t a rough draft. Just me and a computer (along with some junk food and a Coke or three).

So where does this leave me? Does acknowledging a fear mean I’m going to conquer it? I hope so! How do I not keep going back and tearing it down as I try to build it up, though? I can do these 500 word dailies – part of the process is just writing, do not edit! Hence the typos (yeah, that’s my excuse…). A book requires editing. A book requires focus. A book probably requires dialogue…

And…

If I don’t start I will never know!

I’ve been letting my whole life slide, lately. No going to the gym. No writing. No looking for a new job. No practicing my French. Just…whatever. Kind of sad. No wonder I’m getting sick more often these days.

Tomorrow I will write again. And the day after. And I will keep writing every day, because THAT is who I am!