It’s been a while. Nearly a year, actually, since we last found ourselves together here at Girl Meets Fiction. I won’t go into how disorienting, disheartening, and strange the events of the last year have been because we’re all here living it, whatever that means for each of us. Thankfully, there have been some bright moments. The glimmers that keep us moving, even if we’re not entirely sure of the direction or the outcome.
Being forced to slow down and reprioritize in 2020, I thought I would get a lot more writing done than I did. But I’m still here, writing, and I’d like to believe I’ve learned a few things along the way.
It’s Okay to Take a Break
There have been stretches of time where it’s felt as if I’ve been disqualified from the writer’s clubhouse because I’m not actively working on a project. What I’ve come to realize is that the word count per day, or even per week, doesn’t get the final say. It’s the stories that continue floating around my head, even if they don’t make it to a page. It’s reading books that inspire me to want to inspire others. It’s talking to other writers/readers, skimming Goodreads, and compiling Pinterest boards for character aesthetics. Sometimes, it’s naps. It’s too much TV. It’s trusting myself enough to know that I can take a break (even a long one) when I just need rest. If you’ve ever had a similar experience, then you probably already know what I had to rediscover: when you’re ready, the stories will still be there.
The Words Will Come Back
When you are ready to open your laptop or pick up your pen again, it doesn’t always go the way you plan. For me, it’s felt like there’s been a lot of rust to scrape off to get to the good stuff. It’s slow work sometimes. Many freshly minted sentences have quickly met their doom by way of the delete key, repeatedly. It can be maddening. It can also be the thing to finally unlock a worthwhile phrase or idea. When I couldn’t bring myself to work on one story, I ended up starting another. The second had no outline, no premeditated character motives, nothing. It was freeing to begin a project without all that pressure. Although that particular piece might turn out to be nonsense and never see the light of day, it helped me to get excited again, which led to me diving back into the work-in-progress that has really been needing my attention.
Someone Wants to Hear Your Story
At the start of the fall, a friend and I were walking after an outdoor, physically-distanced coffee date. Our conversation eventually came around to how my recent work-in-progress was going. I hadn’t been writing much at the time, but I gave her a summary of the story. Immediately, she asked me follow-up questions. She wanted to know my characters, to hear about their plights and the outcomes. Her genuine interest in their stories helped me fall even deeper in love with the characters. It also revived my excitement to solidify my ideas on paper. Anytime I exchange creative ideas with someone, it reignites my fuel and motivates me to start writing again. Since that walk, there have been plenty of times when I’ve slid back out of “writing mode,” but talking about the book with someone usually sends me right back into the fray. It’s reassuring to know that someone out there wants to hear the story I’m trying to tell. Someone is looking for a story like yours, too.
Be kind. Stay safe. Happy writing!