For me, wishes are silly, especially after the fact, but I thought I’d share these little wishes for anyone interested, and also to serve myself a reminder that I have progressed in my writing. Not all lies stagnant!
I WISH I HAD KNOWN HOW TO…
I wish I’d realized sooner how possible it is to delete sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters, the entire freaking book, and just rewrite stuff. I would have saved myself a lot of time – all those months, even years in some instances, stewing about whether or not a specific scene or word or way I wrote the book was worth keeping. It’s just so valuable, I’d think to myself. I can’t just delete something that took so much to write! Well, it turns out I can. Quite easily and without fear. But it took awhile to get there. I say just delete that problematic crap, and if you end up rewriting it the same way (which 99% of the time it doesn’t for me), it’s meant to stay.
Oh, heavens, to move on. It’s so easy to stay on one project forever. I don’t like NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) much, but it did save me the one time I did it. It saved me from working on the same book forever and ever and ever. It helped me start a new project and move on. It’s important to learn when to start something new, and when something needs to be finished. I think it’s true that a project is never finished, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be finished with it.
I don’t understand how anyone can just write blindly. New writers seem to prefer it, but the more seasoned writers I meet, the more I see how many of them actually plan their books, think about them for months, write outlines (even very loose ones) and/or a synopsis, and know where their story is going and how it’s going to be structured before they start it. It’s a grand thing. If I want to be “surprised” by a story, I’ll read a book not written by me. If I want my own story to surprise me, I’ll be surprised in that outline I write, and honestly, my stories always deviate from the outline and end up surprising me, but I can’t get there in any sort of efficient manner without arrows I’ve planned out first. I know a lot of writers who would argue with me on this point, but as long as they know what works best for them, all is well.
When I first started writing, most of my feedback came from family and close friends. Nothing much has changed in the feedback area. It’s all still opinions and subjective viewpoints. I’ve learned (with a lot of heartache, mind you), when to ignore feedback and when to apply it. I used to think I had to consider and at least try all of it. Luckily, that is not the case anymore, and that has sped up my process. I’ve also learned (through even more heartache) how to ignore a lot of online distractions. This has not been easy, and has not been without repercussions, but my writing is improving because of it, and I have to remember that is the bottom line.
Oh, trust. I think a writer’s biggest enemy is mistrust in themselves, in others, in the publishing industry. It’s so easy to doubt ourselves and our work. It’s so easy to compare ourselves and believe we fall short. It’s so easy to let ourselves believe other aspects of writing are more important than writing itself. It all falls under that TRUST umbrella. Trusting in yourself and your ability to learn, grow, stay on task, and succeed is perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned so far (and I’m still learning it). Nobody can do what you’re doing as well as you do it. Nobody. Trusting yourself, closing your eyes to the naysayers (that includes statistics and all that), and just being you and doing what you love is the most important thing. Ever. Period. Just keep writing and trust yourself to do it.
Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve come up against has been choosing happiness. It has been far too easy to let myself wish for more every single day. More sales. More money. More writing time. More fans. More fame. More, more, more, more, faster, faster, faster. That golden ticket, eh? When I have this, I’ll be happy. When I get that, I’ll be happy. But no. Along with that trust word up above, I’ve learned that trusting in myself as a person, as a writer, as an artist, as a storyteller, has steered me toward choosing to be happy and trust in the decisions I’ve made and the things I’ve created. Yes, reaching certain goals like publication have made me happy, but it’s only temporary. The lasting happiness we all seek never comes from reaching a certain goal. It’s more intangible than that. It’s pretty much boiled down to a choice to be happy with where you’re standing right this moment. Enjoy the view. Breathe the words. Create. Be 100% grateful that you have the freedom to create – no matter where it ends up. And smile. Smiling makes all the difference in the world.