Sit down, we need to talk.
Recently I’ve been observing some rather disturbing patterns in your behavior.
It all started out innocently enough. You had an idea, then a dream, then a plan. You were going to be a writer.
In the beginning, you wrote.
And verily, your writing was crap.
So you started hanging out in a dimly-lit bookstore, trying to look casual leaning against the shelf while stealing secrets from books on writing. You fully intended to buy one or two. Eventually. But books are expensive and you weren’t a wealthy author yet. Did you notice the stares from bookstore employees? No, they weren’t upset that you were stealing secrets. They were jealous that you actually had time to read. But you felt guilty nonetheless.
You adjusted your plan.
Your children noticed the switch from brand name peanut butter to generic and your husband wondered out loud why you were washing food storage bags for re-use, but none of them guessed what you were doing with the money skimmed from the food budget.
Then came the blogs. The editor’s blogs. The agent blogs. The author blogs. That blog. This blog*. Oh, my, the blogs. You subscribed until your Google Reader was begging for mercy. But you didn’t stop there. You signed up for Facebook and befriended other writers. You signed up for Twitter and followed the pied pipers of publishing.
You were somewhat troubled when you kept hearing the same bit of advice, “read lots of great novels,” because where would you find the time?
“Not tonight, dear, I have a headache.” And I need to finish Cutting for Stone.
“Hey kids, tonight it’s ‘eat whatever you want’ night! Have fun and don’t forget to clean up the kitchen.” I have to get back to The Girl Who Fell From the Sky.
You found the time.
My friend, you have a problem…
You’re addicted to becoming a writer.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with learning the craft and keeping up with trends. But you’re not a new writer anymore and you’re pruning in the stale, cold water of too much advice. Yes, this was a particularly bad metaphor. You know this because you’ve read a lot about metaphors, about how they can be distracting if they’re overwrought. You can’t have that sort of distraction in your novel. Nope. Never. You will not write a substandard novel, dammit!
When was the last time you wrote…just wrote?
It’s okay to cry. I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to help you.
Time to adjust the plan again. You have tons of good writing advice in you. It’s there, even if you can’t see it. And now it’s time to get even better. By simply writing.
Put away the books on craft. Shut down the 27 tabs on your browser. You can go back to your craft books and blogs later. Much later.
Now is the time to stop being an addict to an idea. Now is the time to be what you’ve always wanted to be: a writer.
You’re better than you think you are.
*You clicked the link, didn’t you. Point made.