Today, I want to talk about vigilance in the life of a writer.
Vigilance in storytelling.
When I started writing, I believed there was a point where a writer would know everything. I believed I would reach a point where I no longer had to improve my storytelling craft. Boy, was I ever wrong. I finally came to the conclusion that the more I learned about storytelling, the more I had to learn.
The goal is to make your next story better than the last. It should flow better. The characters should be more real to the reader (and to you). The point of view should be sharper. The setting should compliment the characters’ needs a lot better. Etc. The point is, all elements that go into telling a story should be fine-tuned with each story you write.
If you’re going to write longterm, just be aware that improving the craft of telling a story is a journey. If you can look back on your early books and shiver (because they were “so awful”), then you know you’re getting better. That’s great news. I know it sucks to think your older stories are “awful”, but really, it’s a good thing. It means you improved. It means you grew as a writer. It means you’re better today than you were yesterday, and you’ll be even better in the future…if you keep it up.
Treating writing like a job.
Sometimes it’s easy to get lazy. Actually, it’s always easy to get lazy. What’s hard is staying vigilant. Writing is hard work. Yes, it’s fun. It’s something we chose because we enjoy it, but it’s still work.
There are times the work will seem like play. The words come easily, and your word count is amazing that day.
But there are other times where each word feels like you’re pulling teeth. It is not always easy to write. Things going on in real life can definitely impact your motivation to write. Some writers find taking a break works best. On occasion it does for me, too, but most of the time, I have to sit and write. Even if it’s only a couple hundred words, those couple hundred words help me get back into the story, and the next day is usually better. Maybe not a ton better. But a little better. So on day 1, maybe I only manage 250 words. Day 2, I might manage 500. And so on.
Sometimes you can’t wait until you feel like writing to write, especially if you need the income to help pay the bills. That’s why vigilance is key. Don’t rush the story just to get it out. I know it’s tempting because each new story means the potential for more money in your pocket. But each story needs to be savored like fine wine. Remember the pacing and tell your character’s journey as she wants you to tell it. Honor your reader with each book you write. Give them a complete and fulfilling story.
Vigilance can be hard when sales are down or someone leaves you a nasty review. Maybe you want to give up. I get it. I’ve been wanting to give up for most of this year so far, even though I’ve been showing up to work almost every day and typing out the next story. What keeps me going is treating it like a job. Usually, once I get 500 words in, I get my motivation. But each day is like pulling teeth to get the first couple hundred words out. It’s not easy. That’s why this post on vigilance is just as much for me as it is for anyone else who can relate to it. 🙂