Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Affirmations for Writers Who Haven't Finished a Novel Yet, A 12-Step Model.

If the easiest part of doing anything is starting, then the most difficult part of doing anything is seeing it through to the end.

I'm a habitual quitter, particularly in writing, but my life is really a long, drawn-out series of unfinished projects.  From baseboards to flooring, from artwork in the closet waiting to be hung to outdoor project ideas for which I've collected items but haven't even attempted to put them together, I'm a minefield of great and terrible ideas that I just never got around to finishing.

On the one hand, that's a drag of a person to be.

On the other hand, once I start crossing all these half-finished projects from my list of things to do, I will appear to be a rock star with how quickly things get done around here.

Adam Levine:  Rock star or eye candy?  Yes.

So, on the cusp of Nanowrimo 2014, here's what we're going to do:  We're not going to talk about writing this year.  Yep, you heard me.  We're not going to talk about it, we're going to "be about it."  Next year, once we've got a completed novel under our collective belt, we'll give out all the advice we can spew ... but our advice doesn't matter if we haven't finished anything.  Ever.

So what about those twelve steps I mentioned the other day?  How can we incorporate the affirmations of a twelve-step program into something we can use to finally finish the writing we set out to do?

My 12-Steps for me would go something like this:

1.  Admit you suck at finishing your novels, at getting your ideas down on paper even if they don't come out perfect the first time around.  All those half-finished manuscripts?  Yeah, you suck.

2.  Believe that finishing something, even if it's not a masterpiece when you sign "The End," is the only thing that is going to keep you writing at this point.

3.  Don't worry anymore about closets that need to be cleaned or sorted, laundry that needs to be put away, or any other worries during your writing time.  It's your writing time, and everyone and everything else can wait.

4.  Search your soul and realize who you are and want you want to do.  You can't be someone you're not, so don't try.

5.  My blog is my confessional:  I've admitted my wrongs and failures and that gives me a clean slate from which to begin.  Find a place to clean your slate, too.

6.  Stop procrastinating and stop focusing on things that don't really need to be done at this particular moment in time.  The big picture isn't being remembered for your shiny bathroom floor, but instead in the remembrance that you wanted to write a book and you went out and did just that.  Go, you.

7.  Look deep within yourself to that spiritual place inside, and embrace the comfort and peace that comes with realizing that you can do this.  Setting goals--and achieving those goals--is the cornerstone of what gives us satisfaction as human beings.  Set small goals and work off of them.

8.  Make a mental note of all the terrific characters, plots, settings, conflicts, resolutions, titles, book jacket ideas, etc that have come your way throughout the course of your life when you were least expecting them, and apologize for not giving them the attention they deserved.  Maybe they'll come around again.

9.  Making amends?  How about just a solemn oath, right hand raised, that you're not going to be the same writer you were last year.  This is the November that you'll have something in the Outbox to edit come February.

10.  It's not enough to read over these--or any other affirmations--once.  We aren't a "once and done" type of people.  Revisit the reasons we don't finish things.  Analyze again the ideas behind why we'd rather not do anything at all if we can't do it perfectly the first time.

11.  Always ask yourself (or whatever other deity or religious icon you feel like asking) if you're on the right path.  Remember, it's been said that we're all geniuses, but "if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."  (Did Albert Einstein really say that?)  Either way, if the novel doesn't work out, ask yourself if the short story might be more your thing.  Be firm in your goals but stay flexible in your reality.

12.  Finally, if you've felt some kind of awakening, share the message with others.  Join a writing club.  Check out your municipality over at the NaNoWriMo site.  Attend a write-in.  Tell people you, too, used to be a quitter, but tell them how now you aren't.

Or better yet, show them.

Maybe, like those suffering from addiction, we'll never be fully "recovered."  Perhaps one morning, coffee in hand, we'll be sitting in our favorite spot to work when we'll suddenly be gripped by a nearly overwhelming compulsion to organize underneath the bathroom sink.  Maybe a quick break to the restroom will lead us to believe that the glass shower door should be replaced with a curtain rightfuckingnow.

Alas, dear friend, remind yourself who are you and from where you came.

You're a writer.

You've got this.

Till next time,
Cherstin, out.