To stressed-out writers

Remember when you got that one idea that would fill a book?

Remember when you relished the thought of writing the story that stretched out in front of you?

Remember when you were excited about the unknown twists and turns?

Remember when writing five-thousand words was an achievement?

Remember when your own scene made your heart race?

Remember when you read out loud and liked what you heard?

Remember when you had an epiphany that breathed more life into your story?

Remember when you looked through the eyes of whichever character had the best view?

Remember when you met the rewriting challenge with gusto?

Remember when you smiled as you edited, happy to be leaving better writing in your wake?

Remember when you were asked about your book and you didn’t care that it would take hours to explain?

Remember when you believed you could be published?

Remember when you imagined seeing your book on shelves?

Remember when you dreamt about turning real pages and seeing your words flash by?

Remember when you wrote with reckless abandon?

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Remember when the placement of a comma wasn’t pivotal?

Remember when your beginning wasn’t the be all and end all?

Remember when you didn’t know the odds of commercial success?

Remember when you didn’t analysis your characters’ every word?

Remember when you didn’t tear appear your plot looking for weak spots?

Remember when not writing was not a big deal?

Remember when you didn’t know the rules?

Remember when you didn’t care about anything other than your characters?

Remember when you didn’t ask yourself what the point of the scene was?

Remember when you didn’t mind using adverbs?

Remember when you didn’t know that you had to have a ‘voice’?

Remember when having to have a ‘voice’ in your writing sounded a bit peculiar?

Remember when you didn’t think ‘Is this good enough?’?

Remember when you didn’t think ‘This is shit.’?

Remember when it didn’t feel like a chore?

Try forgetting.

Natural writer

I’m not a natural writer.

Writing is not my ‘talent’. I didn’t make up stories as a child. I didn’t thrive in English class. I didn’t notice the words in books.

So how is it I’m nearly finished my second book?

I’m a natural imaginer.

Ideas are tenacious. Have you ever tried to ignore an idea? They don’t like it, let me tell you. They poke at you. They sneak up on other thoughts. They grow in the corners of your mind. And one way or another, they’re going to get out.

When ideas build up into scenes you’re really screwed.

So one night I had a fully formed scene in my head. At first I imaged it out like a scene from a movie. Then, I imagined it out in words.

I opened my eyes to my dark bedroom. I had to write the words. I had to save them, preserve them. If I didn’t they’d slip away.

I turned on my reading light.

The wooden floor was cold when I got out of bed. I didn’t care. I went to my wardrobe and pulled out an A5 notebook I had made years before.

To be honest, I’ve not idea how I made it.

Pen.

Sketching pencils aplenty. But a pen? I had to search. I was getting irritated. My masterful words would fade into oblivion for the want of a pen. Things were bad.

Meltdown averted, I located a humble plastic ballpoint. It was in a dust bunny under my bed.

Anyway.

I sprawled out, half my face mushed into my pillow, and wrote the scene with a reckless-writing-abandon I now long for. With the scene finished, I went to sleep happy.

And I woke up excited.

That first scene was finished, but I forgot to shout ‘CUT’ to its characters.

That was twenty-nine months ago. Since then there hasn’t been a single night where my imagination rested.

And I have little choice but to write.