The 5 W’s and a Pile-o-Poo

I thought this might be a timely post with the recent end of Nanowrimo and all its stress-induced writer’s doubt. I know quite a few talented writers who aspire to publish (you know who you are!) but they haven’t started yet because it’s scary as hell. Fear of not being perfect freezes them. They choke at their keyboards, unable to let the ideas sprinkle through their fingertips.

I know exactly what the voices in their heads are saying: What if I fail?

I know because I thought those same things. So I ask you, what is your definition of failure? And regardless of your definition, wouldn’t you automatically fail if you never tried?

fly

The most freeing thing I’ve ever heard in regards to writing is give yourself permission to suck. 

You’re not going to have a first draft that’s gold and ready for print, whether you cranked it out for Nano or worked three years to get it done. It doesn’t work like that. All professional writers go through dozens of drafts with the skilled guidance of their editor(s) before they’re ready to publish.

When you first start to write out your ideas, it’ll be shit at best. And that’s perfect. That’s all it needs to be. That shit will be the compost for your beautiful garden.

You need it. You need all the shit. 

My current work in progress is a steaming pile of ….you guessed it. To me, this is a sign of success. This is how I know I’m creating something. I know flowers are on the way because I’m preparing the soil. 

When I first realized I was going to do this thing – this crazy writer thing, my immediate emotion was overwhelm. But I don’t know how to find an editor. I don’t know how to publish a book. WHAT’S A QUERY LETTER? I have to build a platform? WTF?! I don’t know the right title/cover/genre. Should I self-publish or go traditional? *breathes into paper bag* 

So I took baby steps. I figured I’d learn all the aspects when I NEEDED to know them, not before. First, I needed a full manuscript, which meant I needed to figure out the ending. Once I did that, I moved on to beta readers, and rewrites based on their feedback. Then the next step, and so on, and so on.

Bottom line: I stopped worrying about the tasks that weren’t due today.

One. Thing. At. A. Time.

Let’s talk about editing. The most difficult aspect of creating for me is writing without micromanaging. Turning my inner editor off is TOUGH. It takes practice (precisely why nanowrimo is so useful). But if I don’t do it, I spend too much time toiling over sentences that may not even make the final cut. Waste – of – time. You have to do a word pile – just get all your thoughts and ideas on the page. Don’t obsess over grammar, or perfect chapter titles, or loose plot lines, or fully developed characters, or what if my dad/aunt/mom/grandma reads this?!

Block the negative thoughts out and replace them with: I am going to write exactly what’s in my head, and it’s going to be utter crap that no one will ever lay eyes on. 

Sounds crazy, right? Yep – just crazy and freeing enough to work, trust me. Get your story on paper. That’s all. Get a beginning, middle, and end. Write FREE. Be unapologetically Brazen. Cocky, even.

Be the stealth-badass-ninja-writer you were born to be. 

leap 2

Another toxic-time-suck-sewer-ass-sludge-writer-slayer  unproductive behavior is comparison. But Stephen King writes 2,500 words a day, and cranks out at least a book a year. I heard Joe Schmo wrote a best seller in 6 months during his train commute to/from work. What about so-n-so, she wrote for years and never made a dime. BLAH BLAH BLAH

So What? Their writing journey is not yours. Their stories are not yours. YOU will have your own unique journey. YOU will write something no one else can, in a way only you can write it, and it will take as long as it takes. It will be a success for no other reason than because You Fucking Did It. You can’t write your way into your own journey if you’re obsessing on the journey of others.

RECAP of the 5 W’s:
1. Write that shitty first draft
2. Worry only about what’s due today
3. Write FREE of inner editors
4. Write with fearless-ninja-take-no-prisoners badassery
5. Weave your own writing story

#amwriting

I sincerely hope you are too. Can’t wait to see your beautiful garden.

((To read my award-winning badassery, click this> Order of Seven.))

order of seven

96 comments

    1. Did you? Then I’m so glad I wrote it! I questioned whether it was too much in a sea of writing advice posts lately, but I’ve had some convos with people who really either A) wanted to do nano but were afeared, B) dying to write a novel but are afeared, C) both, so I just HAD to write this.

      ** please don’t ever lick my face. Hasty did that and I’m still not over it. I’d rather you…I don’t know…honk my boob or something. hahahah

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love this and you so very much! I promise i will not lick you. I will likely not honk your boob, either.😀 But i am going to read this about five more times and print it out and hang it where i can see it because i SO appreciate it and our talk the other day. Thanks for being so supportive. XOXOXO

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So it’s OK that I have random scenes written out in no particular order and that counts as writing toward a novel!?!? If I ever get my shit together ( my written shit that is) I might actually be able to put together a coherent story? Wow! That is news to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AB-SO-LUTE-LY! I know writers that write scene by scene, out of order, and then string it all together. It’s a thing! Looky, you are doing a real writerly thing! hahaha

      here’s what matters…..you are writing. that is all.

      Liked by 2 people

          1. I DID say hard, huh?😀 (ooh look I did it again lol)
            Thank you… yes, what I wrote last night was highly disjointed but just what I was feeling at that moment. Thank you for the outline idea, that way I can have a bunch of things and I can choose from the one that most strikes me.
            Thank you so much for your support, SW❤

            Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re the best. It’s great when people on top of the mountain help others up instead of turning their backs to move on. Your encouragement means a lot to people, Beth, for real. I want to write something one day, but I have doubts and lazy tendencies, etc. but when I read things like this, I get a little push to do it. Thanks for the push.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Don, look at you being all sweet and shit!😉 Thank you, my friend. I’m glad this motivated/inspired you because you would write an amazing book, dude. No doubt about it. If you ever need any help, just holler.❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, Beth! Thank you for this! I have been teetering on the edge of wanting to try NaNoWriMo for the past few years, but never make the commitment. I am afraid I won’t carve out enough time or that my college studies will suffer if I do. I am afraid what I write will be shit & a complete waste of time. I am afraid I will freeze up & do embarrassingly HORRIBLE & fall incredibly short of my goal. I am just afraid. Of a lot of things. It is SUPPOSED to be shit, you say? It is okay if it doesn’t make sense? If I just WRITE & keep writing, that might be enough — at least for now? Well, okay. Perhaps I might have a shot at this after all… One. Thing. At. A. Time. I like that. THAT sounds do-able.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reta, I can’t emphasize this enough – jUST DO NANO. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t reach 50,000 words? SO WHAT- you’ll have 20,000+ that you didn’t have before. It’s not like you’re banished from writing if you don’t “win” Nano….it’s a fun little contest, not the Hunger Games. hahaha All joking aside – you’ll surprise yourself with what you can accomplish, I promise. YOU CAN DO THIS. Just have fun with it. No one reads your work during nano. It’s not saved to the site at all. You are free to write as shitty as you need to!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. First of all: I’m freaking out cuz I actually know you! Ah! You are so awesome.
    Secondly: yes! Yes to all this. The shit, the poo, the insecurity. I’m approaching NaMo differently this year. Your words reinforce.
    Finally: May I borrow your brown paper bag?
    In all seriousness, seeing your journey over the last two years inspires me every day. You wrote good word, you did good work, and you have arrived!
    (You rock, Lady!)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Soooo….BIG question for you. Do you think it’s NaNo cheating to use the 30 days to rewrite the book I wrote LAST year at NaNo? I think it might be the only way I can get it to publication.
        *backs away and waits for an honest opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s absolutely NOT cheating in my book. Nano can be used for motivation in so many areas. TWICE I used it to further word count for Oo7. I think you use it for whatever means works for you, period. (“technically” it doesn’t follow the rules of nano, but it’s not like there are nano police, you know? I mean, seriously. Fuck it. Just do you!)

          Liked by 1 person

    1. aww Thanks, Nancy! I’m only reflecting the support I was shown by other writers when I was starting out. (I’m STILL starting out, but you know what I mean!) The writing community nurtured me so much. I’m giving back.🙂
      xoxo

      Like

  6. This is bonkers timely for me – I’m in that mid first draft slump where I’m all, I thought this was a good idea? How didn’t I realise it was the worst thing ever in the history of things! But you’re totally right – first drafts are going to suck with or without permission, so you might as well give it!😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Why did the part at the end make me want to cry? Is it because I’m so hard on myself, and I needed to read this? Is it because I cry easily? Is it because you’re so amazing for writing this and inspiring us? Am I just getting my period?

    *eats all the chocolate*

    Liked by 1 person

  8. OK – I have to be honest. I’ve seen this NaNoWriMo thing mentioned, but I have no idea about the “rules.” I know you are supposed to write every day, but are you supposed to strive for a number of words per day? Does it have to be a book that you are trying to write, or do blog posts count? I could use some motivation – I’ve been doing that comparison thing and feeling very inadequate lately. As a result, I haven’t written anything for weeks. I need someone to slap my face a couple of times and yell “Snap out of it!” like Cher does in Moonstruck. Be sure to use the Brooklyn accent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Jana! Lovely to see your smiley face here! Okay, so nano is national novel writing month. The goal (or how you “win”) is to write 50,000 words in the month of november, which is size of a novel (any smaller and it’s a novella). You should write roughly 1800 words a day, but really more than that cuz there will be days you write less or none at all (thanksgiving day, for instance). You periodically add your work into their word count software and it counts it and keeps tally on your nano account page. It does not get saved there or read by anyone. It’s run on the honor system. I’m sure some people write blah blah blah 50,000x but then really what’s the point? No one knows so it’s not like you’re getting something out of that! haha Anyway, it’s a great way to stretch your writing muscles and force yourself to dig deep while writing everyday.

      Like

  9. This is so good. Thank you for giving me permission to write the shit that’s in my head and heart. I am on round three of the re-write for my first book and the inner-editor in me is the WORST I just wanna yell STFU, so thanks for telling me to do just that.

    I love your blog and your honesty! I’ll be back.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. OH do I love this so so much, Beth!! THANK YOU. My fear is that if I put something into a work that is PERMANENT- I will look back on it later and cringe at how bad it is!! I look back at my writing from even a year ago, and think it SUCKS. I keep thinking- I’m not there. I’m not a good enough writer to go ‘there’…

    I will start writing my crap. FIRST step, right?

    The rest will come… Like you said. First the dirty undernourished soil…

    Saving this one to read and re-read as I go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES, Christine, yes. Just write it. Any editor worth a his/her shit will not let you publish the crap until it’s been cultivated and worked and bloomed into an amazing garden. Write the shit first. That part is essential. You can do this. I believe in you!

      Like

  11. Brilliance!!! You’re a genius!! As writers we must embrace our shit!! LOL In all honesty, it’s so true, Bethie. So many times Mathair and I have started with the seed of an idea and after talking it out will get a rough first draft together. We’ll read over it and look at each other like, “What the hell were we thinking?! We’re morons! Are we even cut out for this whole author shtick?!” But that’s the writing process and it’s dirty. Of course, you get something so rewarding and beautiful in the end… like Order of Seven.😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. iI really is dirty! and speaking of rewarding and beautiful – happy release day for The Crazy 8! So excited for you two; I know how incredibly hard you work at this writer thang. I’m so excited to read it! MWA xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Giving myself permission to suck changed the game for me as a writer. Really. It’s the first piece of advice I give to anyone asking.

    Love yer face, Beth. You’re the best, as always. Social media master.😀

    Like

  13. This is a great post. I did NaNo two years ago. I had had a story idea in my head for years, and when I heard about this 50k in the month of Nov thing I found the inspiration.
    I never finished it. I did reach the goal, but the story never got an ending.
    The website isn’t visually impaired friendly, so I kept track of my word count on Twitter.
    Now I am debating doing it again. I needed that push to try to write every day to push me into starting my blog, which I did.
    Now I have found a local writing group in my town and am joing next week. Not sure if any of them will be doing NaNo.
    So many writers are so incredibly hard on themselves. It’s a sad thing to see. Just keep writing and don’t edit, don’t look back.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I give a lot if credit for those involved in Nanowrimo. Some great advice here on writing. I can barely keep up with my blogposting so one a day in November is not happening.

    Sex every day maybe but that’s a different use of my mind and appendages.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Even while writing a 5 word piece, my inner editor can’t leave me at be! Thank you for this beautiful article. Your book is soon going to be in my hands, my eyes gobbling it up. In addition to that, you gave me inspiration to get that idea on paper and finish it off. Thank you.

    Like

    1. Day. Made.
      I can’t tell you how much it means to me that my words inspired you to write! Yes – go and write what’s in your head. It will look awful at first, but as you now know, that’s exactly what you want. Good luck!!
      And thank you for reading Oo7! I hope you love it.🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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