Stagnation is something to avoid in every walk of life. There’s nothing worse than the thought of being stuck in the mud; of being trusted with the duty of forward progression and failing in that self-given role miserably. However, there’s something about the thought of stagnation in the process of progression as a writer that’s a whole lot scarier.
Imagine dedicating your life to something, spending hours and hours on it every single day for twenty plus years, only to end up with the same level of ability you had at the start of your journey. If that was the case with the things you love, would you still pursue them? I know I wouldn’t.
For me, life is all about progression. It’s about putting emotions aside when they try to take over. It’s about turning the cogs of your mind and keeping them in motion. It doesn’t matter if the pace is slow. So long as the direction is forward, you’re winning.
It’s the same with writing.
The Direction, Not the Pace
Don’t curse yourself for working through a project slowly. That doesn’t matter – unless there’s a deadline of course. In which case, it’s all systems go. Report to your panic stations!
But until then, just focus on a forward progression – in every aspect of your writing game. Are you drafting? Aim for a thousand words a day. That’s some excellent progress. But at the same time, if you fall short of it and only hit seven hundred a day, it’s still excellent progress.
That’s the key here. The pace of the progress is irrelevant. What matters is the direction. And as long as the direction is forward, it’s always classed as progress. If you’re moving in reverse, that’s known as regress, and that’s a word we haven’t got time for today.
Maintaining the Motion Whilst Rewriting
This, my wonderful writers, is a whole different ballgame.
It’s one thing to keep the ball rolling when writing something, but when you’ve spent the past thirty-seven minutes sat before your computer, debating the relevance of the comma you’ve been staring at the whole time – well that’s an entirely different beast.
Fear not though, it might be difficult, but at the same time, it’s more than doable. Especially when your favourite editor is here to help. Here’s a trick I swear by. Lord knows it has saved my skin on countless occasions.
When rewriting your manuscript, if you get stuck on a certain paragraph or sentence for more than twenty minutes, and find that it is sapping your motivation (and more importantly, your will to live,) simply highlight it and move on. If the program you write on has an annotations feature, that’s even better. Highlight it and leave yourself a note to explain what needs to be changed about that particular part, then move on with the rewrite.
Getting out of there whilst you can and moving on to some fresh material could mean the difference between a productive editing session, and giving up and slacking for a few days. Since you’ve highlighted it, your mind can rest easy knowing that it will be fixed at a later date. This will allow you to move on with fluency, and without the stress of an unfinished paragraph.
Mindset and Practicality
These are the two things that will save your hide in the game of writing. You have to channel your mindset towards forward progression, and maintain a practical plan to help you bring that forward progression to life. If you master the combined art, and keep things flowing smoothly in your writing and rewriting, you’ll find it within you to create some beautiful works of fiction.
Isn’t that what we’re here to do after all?
Writing is hard. There are no shortcuts, there are no tricks that make it easy or tips that make it stress-free. It will be tough and it will be stressful. But, most importantly, it will be worth it. And in this game of life, that’s what matters most after all.
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