I’ve been kicking my own ass and working hard to get back to writing every day, and it’s going well. I’m not writing anything terribly productive (or at least not anything that will ever see the light of day), but I’m writing and I’m proud of myself. I don’t know what happened but the bug came back, and once I dipped my toes back in it was like I never left.
Writing is such amazing therapy for me, and one that I often recommend to anyone who will listen. It’s such a good outlet and a good escape and I love getting lost in it. And it makes me feel like I’ve done something. It gives me that boost of confidence that I’ve created something, even if it’s just a random scene in a fanfic that I’m never going to actually write.
I’m sitting at my kitchen table, sipping on a cherry smoothie, pausing every now and again to open the shape O toy on the floor for my toddler. Some days she’s not so supportive of my writing, and it takes me two days of little snippets of tapping away at my phone to even get through a paragraph. But the drive is there, and I’m holding onto it for dear life.
I turned 31 this year, and in chatting with young writers online through Critique Circle (more on that later) and Wattpad I’m learning how different I am from the teenaged and even twentysomething writer I was. I remember those crushing feelings of self doubt, writing half a paragraph and then scrutinizing it for days, unable to write anything more until I got those few sentences perfect. Being terrified that I didn’t have my own voice, that my prose read like a cookie cutter house in the suburbs.
Now I’m giving advice to young writers, telling them not to do those things, to just brain dump and write and write and write and go back later and be proud of what they’ve done. To just keep working that writing muscle and edit later, get betas, take criticism, don’t be afraid to experiment with your story even if the plot bunny doesn’t feel like it will work.
And I’m realizing that recently, that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve read that after 30, women tend to gain a whole fountain of confidence, because they finally know who they are. I suppose I feel that. I don’t know if it’s being over 30 or the fact that I have a daughter that I desperately want to set an example for, or both, but I feel like for the first time in my life I’m really proud of what I do and create. I still get nervous when I share those creations, but that’s part of the thrill of it. And instead of thinking ‘yeah, this sucks, but whatever’ I’m actually excited to get things out into the world.
A big part of this confidence boost I think came from joining Critique Circle, which I can’t recommend enough to everyone. I can’t even remember how I stumbled across it, but it’s been a huge game changer for me. The way it works is that you critique stories within a queue during a critique period, and you gain credits. Then you can use those credits to submit your own stories to be critiqued. You get more credits the more detailed the crit, so you’re guaranteed really good feedback. The users I’ve come across are all incredibly nice and constructive and I’ve found some really amazing novels that I’m following there.
Giving critiques has upped my game as well, because it forces me to really pay attention to things that I may have missed in my own work. Then I read the other critiques on the work to see if I missed anything and get even more insight. Receiving critiques is a terrifying ball game, but so so satisfying. It’s interesting to get a bunch of different perspectives and reactions, and have things pointed out that I never would have thought of. I posted a prologue for my Vivid rewrite and received some speculations from a critter that just blew my brain right out of the back of my head and made me look at the whole series in a new light.
The best is when a critter just straight up reacts to something they think is awesome, too. It definitely strokes the ego. I uploaded Lace and Time as a standalone just to test the waters at CC, and at one pivotal moment the inline comment was just ‘BOOOOOOM’ and I almost cried I was so excited. It’s really amazing to have a reader react to things as strongly as the emotions that you put into writing them.
Go check it out. And when you do, let me know when you start posting shit and I will crit the crap out of it.
Anyway. Now I’ve got a poodle in my lap that’s trying to escape the very excited toddler, and it’s time to clean my kitchen. I’ll leave you with the knowledge that I’m (finally) continuing my Stephen King Marathon. I’ve discovered the beauty of audiobooks so that I can still be reading when my hands and eyes are otherwise occupied. The Gunslinger is next!
Always be writing!