Monday, November 16, 2009

Suck It Up Princess

This was one of my best coach's favorite expressions. Admittedly, we were a pretty hardcore bunch of ballplayers. We trained and played eleven months a year, and in season it was rare to have more than a day off a week. Whenever someone got hurt, this same coach would undoubtedly ask, "Are you hurt? Or are you injured?" Meaning, if we don't need to cart you off to the hospital, quit whining, suck it up and get back out there.

We got used to his tough love routine pretty fast. I still hear him sometimes in my head when I'm staring at my blank laptop screen wondering what the heck to write next. "Suck it up, princess." And he's right. As Todd Stone wrote in his book Novelist's Boot Camp, you can whine or you can write, but you can't do both.

Writers have to write, and if they want to succeed, they have to write constantly. They can't sit around waiting for their muse to show up, and they can't wait for inspiration to strike. Not all of as are as hardcore as Nora Roberts, who writes eight hours every single day--including Christmas, I'm told. Wow. Now that's a level of dedication I can't even aspire to, because I know it would never happen. I need my downtime to recharge my batteries, and I could never work on Christmas!

Here are some ideas for the less militant among us that have worked for me. Set a page or word count and a schedule you--and your family--can live with. If possible, pick the time of day when your creative juices seem to flow the best, and make it part of your routine. This is the only way my family has learned to respect what I'm doing. The schedule thing seems to make my hubby happier, otherwise he grumbles about me being attached to my laptop all the time. I write in the morning for an hour or two, then when hubby puts our little ones to bed. If I get an extra bit of time in between someplace, bonus.

My point is, even if it's not as much time to write as I'd like to have, at least it's something. I've got to make that window of opportunity work. No one's going to hold me accountabale but me. No one can make me quit but me. No one's going to do the writing for me. Yes, writing is hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it! But that's no excuse. Just write. No whining. You can't fix a blank page. Get the words down, and even if they're awful, you've got something to work with when you go back and revise.

Okay, I'm hopping off my soapbox now. And as promised, here's a picture of me on my way out for trick-or-treating on Halloween.

Happy writing! No whining.