My It-Doesn’t-Matter Attitude

Lately, I’ve been taking an “it-doesn’t-matter” kind of attitude when it comes to writing. On the surface that sounds like a bad thing, but let me explain.

It used to be I fretted over how much writing I was accomplishing in the run of a day, a week, a month, a year. I looked around and saw many of my author friends churning out novels at an amazing rate. Why can’t I be more discipline, I wondered? Why can’t I just whiz through a first draft, revise and edit, wrap it all up neatly in a few short months? Truthfully, that’s kind of the way things went with Bitter, Sweet. Smooth as silk. I like to say it took three months to write, and that it practically wrote itself. I know that my first novel, so near and dear to my heart, was a novel just waiting to be put to paper. It was so much a part of me that all I had to do was write the story that was in front of me.

But not all stories are the same. Some take a lot of digging around to get to the bottom of. Digging equals time and lots of it. Time equals, well, time. Something we all complain we don’t have enough of these days.

Writers are often under enormous pressure to produce quality writing– and fast. Pressure, I might add, that is most often self-imposed. We can feel that invisible monkey on our back. We compare our accomplishments to that of our writing friends. And many times we are merciless. We are our own worst critics. But, of course, that can be said for most of us in general. We just aren’t nice enough to ourselves. We should be. We need to be. If we can’t treat ourselves with love and respect how can be possible treat others that way?

Here’s the deal. Awhile back it came to me that it doesn’t matter when that story is finished or even how many I eventually end up writing in my lifetime. I’ll do what feels comfortable for me. If a story comes at a fast rate, so be it. I’ll burn the midnight oil if I have to in order to get it down, but if it comes at a leisurely pace, a bit here and a bit there, that’s okay too. I’m not going to twist myself into knots trying to keep up with someone else. It just doesn’t make sense. Besides, we can only ask of ourselves what we are capable and willing to give. So that’s what I’m doing this summer. I’m working on my next novel, enjoying the process. When will I finally write “The End” ? I haven’t a clue. But what I do know is it will be done when it is done and not before. So,while an it-doesn’t-matter attitude might not be for everyone it certainly takes a lot of pressure off this writer. Does my writing matter to me? Absolutely. Not only that I intend to enjoy every moment of it.

* Next Wednesday, August 20th, I’ll be interviewing,( yes interviewing!) award winning author, Marsha Skrypuch on my blog! You’ll find out about her band-spanking new book, her writing ,and the circumstances surrounding some death threats and hate mail she received. Her story is an amazing one. I hope you’ll drop by and leave a question or comment for Marsha.

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20 Comments

  1. I love your honesty, Laura. Always right on. I often feel guilty for being a slow writer who goes at it in spurts of great activity and then zilch. My novel dreams still seem so elusive to me but I still keep plugging along trying not to feel too guilty about my slow progress.

    Fun to hear about your interview with Marsha. I look forward to reading it. I remember seeing her when I went to a Canscaip Conference in Lumsden, Saskatchewan years ago. Such an inspiring writer just like you, Laura!

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    • Thanks, Cathy. It makes not sense to me to worry about how much writing I can get done. I feel that hurrying will not help me write the kind of story I’m capable of writing. All stories are different when it comes to writing them.

      Marsha is certainly an inspiration to writers. I’m so amazed by her accomplishments and so excited to have her on my blog for an interview.

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  2. I am a believer in one setting his/her own pace!

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    • Absolutely, Susan. It’s a tough one for some of us to learn. We were given the idea from the time we start school that getting our work done quickly was a good thing.

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  3. I am still on that slow put-put-put boat to China when it comes to writing. Good thing I’m trying to enjoy the view along the way.

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  4. I used to beat myself up all the time. Slowly, I am more dependable schedule-wise but still not make miles of progress. I like to give myself permission to take my time. Thank you, Laura. A fabulous thought. I like this post. 🙂

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  5. Good for you, Laura! It took stress-related illness to make me see the light. I still have to slap my hand when I realize I’m pushing myself to write faster, faster, faster, but most of the time I’m relaxed and breathing easier. I wish for you an optimal word flow. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Linda. It’s good to hear that you also are breathing easier these days. I can remember feeling stressed in school. I don’t want that same stress in my writing life. When I feel that stress I start writing monkey crap and that’s not selling so well these days. 😉

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  6. I am a slow writer and I’m okay with that. Sometimes it just flows and other times it just sits there. We really can’t push ourselves too hard. (I’m also a slow reader) I love Marsha Skrypuch and her books. Can’t wait for the interview.

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    • I’m glad you’re okay with the pace you set. That really is the important part, us being comfortable and satisfied with what we accomplish.

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  7. I get caught up in hurry-hurry mode a lot. I’ve had a very busy and productive summer, and I’m going to stay stay busy right until teaching starts again. But I had to stop and take a good look at, realistically, what I could get done in the next weeks. I finally admitted to myself that my next project wasn’t going to be launched until 2015. I felt instant relief! I knew I’d made the right decision. Good for you for finding the mindset that will allow you to be creative on you own terms. It’s tough not to compare yourself with others, but you’re the only one who can write your words. I look forward to reading your interview, too.

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    • I know you like to set goals, Heather, and that’s not a bad thing at all. It sounds as though you’re keeping those goals realistic, something not all of us remember to do. We’re all human, after all, and can only do so much.

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  8. I really appreciate you sharing this, Laura. It’s the way I’ve been feeling for some time now. Too often I read these articles about discipline and I feel guilty because I’m not producing. They say you need to write 1000 words a day. Or someone else will say write a page a day. Not this girl. Used to once upon a time. We need to trust to work at our own pace and feel okay about it. Excellent post.

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    • Thanks, Joylene. I’ve also come to the same conclusion with blogging. Lately, I post once a week. Sometimes I miss a week. I used to think I has to post two or three times a week, but it made no sense to have blogging taking up so much of my time. I don’t get to visit other blogs as often as I’s like but I do what I can. I’m happy with the pace of things at the moment. In time, I expect that will keep changing.

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  9. storyteller5

     /  August 22, 2014

    That’s a great idea. It’s so easy to get focused on results instead of the process, but what’s the point of writing if we’re making ourselves miserable?

    Some writers churn out multiple books a year; some writers finish one in several years. It has no bearing on quality or even popularity. While some find it helps sales to have a huge backlist, plenty of people have earned a wonderful living from one book.

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    • Hi Holli!

      I had to get real with myself and take a step back. Realistically, I’m probably never going to make a living writing (not that I wouldn’t want to. Hell, I’d quit my job tomorrow if I could!) But it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. I’m very proud of the two novels I’ve had published and I couldn’t be happier about that. For many years a published book was my goal and I’ve done that. I just want to keep doing what I’m doing. Who knows what will happen.

      It’s nice to have you visit, Holli. I’ve fallen behind in reading your novel, but only because my slow connection (and computer) is making it very challenging when it comes to reading blogs and commenting. The commenting part is excruciating, and sometimes impossible, especially with the blogspot blogs. I absolutely love what I have read and am hoping to one day get caught up. You’re a talented writer!

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  10. Good ideas, Laura. When I get back to daily(?) writing, it’s going to be fun, not stressed. I like that idea a lot.

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