Remember the Basics
by Peggy Bechko
Admittedly, I write and I write about writing. I write a bit of everything – at different times – and I’ve given basic mechanical advice at times.
Today I want to revert to the very basics and give a few reminders. How basic?
Well, for starters the writer needs to show up. Every day. And by that I mean write every day. Have a place where you can sit down and write and do it. And if you can’t do it every day, have a schedule and stick to that. Barring an ultimate emergency, stick to it no matter what happens. You simply have to ‘show up’ if you want to get it done.
Along with that, you need to bring your energy. Doesn’t matter if it’s at the end of a ‘day’ job day, you need to dig deep and summon that energy to write and enjoy doing it. It’s the only way you’re going to be effective and create the story you have bouncing around in your head in such a way as to engage readers who’ll help propel your dreams forward.
Don’t forget about your confidence. Suck it up and know what you’re capable of, and that’s the very best. Don’t let someone read your work who you know either thinks you’re crazy for even trying to write a great script or book and for sure don’t let a ‘friend’ who fancies him or herself to be an editor but only does it for ‘fun’ edit your work. You don’t need a script covered in red-inked suggestions and admonishments from anyone but someone in a position to help you move forward.
Don’t go out looking for ways to ding your confidence, instead seek out the positive. I’m not saying someone who only strokes you, but rather someone who is honest and you can learn from. A bad ‘review’ can be worth its weight in gold when it comes from a reliable source and you put the negatives to good use transforming them to positives.
And along with that last paragraph, keep in mind that fears aren’t real. All too often writers harbor fears they will succeed, or fears they won’t. Reality check. We’re way past the cave man days. In general we don’t fear for our physical safety while we bang away on the keyboard. That leaves only emotional safety. That being the case, we have to remember who we are, be conscious of our own thoughts, and wrestle the mind into the place we want/need/deserve it to be.
Have a talk with yourself. Examine your fears. Understand them. Then see how you can twist and turn them into a better reality; one that creates a solid underlying base for your writing instead of tearing yourself down. Thoughts control behavior, it’s a simple fact. If you can’t pull yourself out of your negative thoughts regarding your writing and your dream of a writing career, then it’s going to be one heck of an uphill battle to attain your goals.
Aside from ‘showing up,’ the writer also needs to make him or herself accountable. Writers are independent and as such don’t have a lot of parameters they have to work within. So, it’s wise to create some. Set yourself some deadlines. When do you want to have the first draft done? When do you want to be looking for an agent or when do you plan to Indy publish or perhaps launch a crowdfunder campaign to produce the script?
Don’t create deadlines that are so far out there you’ll be swimming in time, then suddenly the deadline is there and you’ve done nothing. Instead set one fairly close in. Push yourself. Get it done.
And finally think about yourself and how you work. Consider creating a sort of ‘restart’ flag you can toss when things get complicated. If your brain is in a knot many times it’s a good idea to call a time out.
Your time out doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Go jogging. Hop on the stationary bike in the family room, knit, do some yoga, whatever. Choose something, some thing away from the writing that will allow those knots to relax and perhaps remind you as to why you want to ‘show up’ in the first place