Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Insecure Writer and Being Efficiently Productive


Today is February's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an insecure writer this month?

Because it’s beginning to dawn on me that I may not have what it takes to be a productive writer.

You may wonder what I’m talking about. After all, I’m finishing up the edits on my debut urban fantasy, and I’m already deep into writing the sequel, so I am being productive. But I’m not being efficiently productive.

It took a depressingly high number of years just to get to this point in my writing career, and while that may not be all that unusual for early writers who are still learning the craft, I kind of figured things would begin speeding up at some point. Unfortunately, after spending all of January working on my revisions, my progress has been dismal.
I’m a slow writer, and that doesn’t change when I’m in editing mode. In particular, I find it especially difficult to make significant changes to a scene that I already deemed finished. Not that the problems pointed out by my editor aren’t real, but trying to reimagine the way to write a scene after it’s already been put down on paper (or hard drive) is amazingly hard for me. I stare at the words for hours at a time without a clue. I pound away at the words for days or weeks, trying this and trying that, seeing what sticks to the wall. Usually with little success.

Eventually, I hit that paradigm shift that allows me to see how the scene should be written. It’s my Eureka! moment. My vision clears. The seas part. I breathe a sigh of relief, then get on with the writing. But up until that “a-ha” moment, I’ve done nothing but bang my head against a stone wall.

But that’s my process. It’s who I am, so I can’t do too much about it. What really bothered me this month is the realization that part of the reason my revising has been so slow is because I’ve been avoiding my manuscript. I spent way too much time doing chores around the house or watching TV shows or checking out social media or sleeping. Anything to avoid sitting down in front of that laptop and facing that damn stone wall. If I’d just forced my butt into that chair and concentrated more often, I might have been finished my now.
And that’s on me.

In these heady days where a person who only writes three books a year is considered to be a slow writer, I’m absolutely glacial. If I hope to have any success with this writing thing, I’ll need a lot more determination and grit. Some way of making myself write even when the writing is tough. That’s what real writers do.

Take care everyone, and stay safe!