This past week gave me a gift I didn't know I needed: A Snow Day! Who doesn't love Snow Days, huh? I spent the day reading cozy books on Hygge, burning my Snow in Love Candle, and I pulled out a fresh notebook that I purchased for the sole purpose of writing the second draft of my novel in long hand. I've been in pursuit of this second draft for a while now, and I thought that it would help me to focus more if I got the story down in order. That plan backfired, when I found myself exhaustedly staring at a blank page, not knowing where to start, what I wanted to write, how to write...you know all those thoughts that shoot through you when you've been away for a while. The same happened last night when I even thought about having another go.
I think throughout my writing life, especially after a Creative Writing Degree, my mind sets specific rules on what good writing is. Good writing is "bum in chair". It rises with the sunlight every morning, after a glass of orange juice and a plate of egg whites. You have to write in a quiet room, in longhand, in a well worn notebook. You have to read a chapter of Hemmingway, or all that jazz like Fitzgerald. You have to post something to Wattpad and have a thousand likes. You have be published in The Paris Review. Someone has to affirm that you are, in fact a writer, before you can call yourself one. Believe me, all of these kinds of lies course through my body (because it has now become a physical response to the replay) every day.
Well I'm here to offer these thoughts their emancipation papers.
Today, I took out my Neo Alphasmart, I wrote about a page of revisions for my novel. I turned on Toulouse's cover of "I Will Follow You" and let my emotions compel writing out of me. That's the kind of writer I am. I can be concise and choppy at times. Or extremely longwinded (there's no in between). I love writing setting and am all the more intrigued when setting goes from candlelight flickering in the evening, to the candlelight wafting messages to the person in the room. Miracles move me. I wrote the whole first draft of my novel (mostly) on my phone, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of rush hour in New York City. I write to music blasting in my ears, and calling out from people around me, because that's the time when I can step outside of my anxieties, and hangups and just concentrate on what feels write (*yes*). And once I've emptied myself of all the bones, that's when I can sit in a room, 'bum in chair' and sort through all the bits.
You don't have to write like anyone else to look at yourself as a real writer. You don't have to carry on the same processes as others, or buy a Leuchturrm because a great writer used one (unless that inspires you). Of course, at some point, you will have to sit down and get down to business. But how you get to that point is up to you. Most of the pains of writing, or any art form, is learning what's been done, and then losing the rule book to learn your own voice.
What will it take for you to get your work out there? Don't agonize. Get comfortable, and do your thing. Once you and your muse are comfortable and ready to go, you'll be surprised what comes out.