Let’s face it. Keeping up momentum and motivation in my writing life is a hard job. No one is waiting breathlessly for my next novel to be published (well, maybe three or four people would really like to see it happen). No publisher is behind me, poking me with their index finger and pointing at a deadline writ large on their calendar. It’s easy for me to slip into a funk and lose the plot – quite literally.
Especially during the two full years of Covid lockdowns and restrictions, I found myself depressed about writing at all, with my thoughts incessantly hovering over the latest incidence stats and how many people of how many different households were allowed to gather this week. Not to mention how many souls had succumbed. Somehow, while that was our reality, I did manage a few flash fiction pieces and poems about the situation. However, with few exceptions, rather than being a producer of story, I became a happy consumer, anxious to get lost in a good novel or stream a movie or series.
In this 2022 summer, we are still not free from the plague that has beset the globe. But we are learning to live with it. Unfortunately, other terrible issues are distracting me now. Such as Russian aggression (yes, WAR!) in Ukraine and the obvious effects of global climate change. These, too, are huge problems, not to be sneezed at, not matters I can simply bury my head in the sand to avoid and simply pretend that what the world really needs now is another magical love story or spy thriller.
The reality is I’m going to have to pull myself up by my own bootstraps if I want to call myself a writer. But where do I look for inspiration, motivation, and momentum? If I’m honest, it’s all around me. I can read how famous authors found it. Enough has been written by and/or about my heroes, giving me insight into their writing routines and approaches to various elements of the craft. Writing courses – also online ones – can be a great way of breaking through to the next level.
Or, much closer to home, I can look to the example of my writing friends right here on Pens Around the World who are more disciplined than I. Their support is a real boost, and their honest critique of my work provides me with ways to improve it. So, thanks, fellow members. It is truly a help to have friends who also happen to be writers. (BTW, we are open to consider new members.)
Still, rejected submissions always hurt. Like a South African Ridgeback with a juicy bone, that old enemy, self-doubt, gnaws on the substance of my fragile ego. But I have found a thought that gives me courage from a favorite author of mine. Margaret Atwood has written: “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”
Thus, I must persist. Place behind on office chair. Boot laptop. Get words into a doc. Revise. Submit. Fail. Revise again. Submit again. Fail better. The practice might eventually improve my writing. It’s worth a try. I have taken a first step today by starting a writing To-Do List. There are plenty of texts already on my laptop (not to mention that stalled novel) for me to revise and polish. Then to submit. I might even be blessed with a few new ideas along the way. Stranger things have been known to happen.