It was 1997 when I started writing short stories for the fun of it. Looking back, it was an outlet to get my thoughts down on paper, which turned into creativity. Throughout my four years in high school, writing dominated my pass time. My Creative Writing teacher, Ms. Proctor, was the most supportive and influential person when it came to my writing at that time of my life. For my Junior and Senior year, she pushed me to do more, be better and strive to create a world on paper. Little did I know, it would be eighteen years until I would sit down, and work on my next story.
There was something about being creative, and getting thoughts and emotion on paper. I frequently wrote poetry since middle school and for a few years after high school. For me, it was about sharing my thoughts and emotion, despite not letting many read my work. When I look back at the poetry on my old site I dug up on Archive.org; I laugh at how lame they are. However, I can remember what was going on at each time I wrote them. There’s a connection with written work.
For the last few years, I have found myself saying I would love to write a novel. A massive undertaking, but it kept popping up. Every time I would overthink what I was doing, I’d think about writing, then immediately talk myself out of it due to lack of skill. In mid-2018, I took a step forward in being more serious, and I started writing ideas down. Things I wanted to write about. Character names. Plot lines. Anything and everything that would come to mind went on paper. I quickly became overwhelmed by thought and found myself paralyzed with indecision. So, I started doing what any other person with the internet and hesitation would do; I began Google searching how to get started and what kind of expectations I should set for myself.
What a stupid mistake that was. Talk about talking yourself out of something. It took one day and a couple of hours of Googling things to get the understanding that I cannot write a novel, let alone a short story. Why? Because I don’t have free time to write the way that Stephen King or Dean Koontz does. I ended up putting my notes in my desk drawer and forgetting about them. If I couldn’t fit in 2,000 words a day and have ideas come to me clearly, what was the point? It was all or nothing. I read an article about Stephen King and his advice for those who want to write. The recommendation was just to write. Do it. I was already blogging multiple times a month, so I decided to increase that to weekly in an attempt to write and do it. Baby steps.
Don’t set your goal on somebody else’s definition of success. – Jon Acuff
This quote changed everything for me. It was the exact reason why I was unable to finish the things I started, or even start. Everything I was doing was wrong. The Google searches, and research on how to start, how to write a novel, what software to use, etc., had me stuck in the mud. Not only was I not”just writing,” but I was inadvertently setting my own writing goals based on somebody else’s definition of success. It was killing me.
That very next day, I took thirty minutes to carve out some new, obtainable goals for my writing, which included writing at least 500 words every other day. The struggle with developing a habit, is it’s hard when your habit is not to have a habit, right? I have only hit my writing goal about six times so far this year, with four of those times being to work on my first short story.
When it comes to writing, I am finding my groove. I’ve learned to accept that I will not hit my goal every day just starting out and that my 500 words won’t come easy. It will be worth it because when I am writing, I feel like I am home.