Friday, August 3, 2012

The Journey is the Destination

by MarcyKate Connolly

It seems these days that we’re always rushing to get everywhere faster. We want to get to work (and home again) as soon as possible. We want the highest speed internet. The shiniest new toy.

This also translates into our writing lives. We want to finish that draft, so we can edit. Then we want to get edits over with because then we can send it to beta readers. Then we want them to hurry up so we can send it to agents, then editors, and get it onto a shelf in a book store.

You might want to slow down.

Why? Because all those places you’re rushing to, while awesome in their own right, aren’t the real destination. They’re a moving target, constantly shifting. Goals are necessary and they help you along the path you take, but are you really writing solely to get published? Or is there a deeper motivation behind that goal?

There will always be exceptions, but I suspect 9.5 times out of 10, the reason we have that goal in the first place is because we love to write. Unfortunately, this can be rather easy to forget. I hear all the time how some writers love drafting, but hate editing or hate getting the words on paper initially, but love making them shiny later. And of course, no one likes writing a query. :) When we're mired deep in the part that gives us grief, it can seem like the light at the end of the manuscript will never appear.

Perhaps if we slowed down and took a few minutes during those times we’re engaged in that part of the writing process (be it drafting, editing, querying, etc) to remember why we’re doing this, how much we love telling stories, it might get a little easier.

The thing I really hate to see is when writers lose the joy of the process. Because that’s what it is. It is a constant process that cycles around and starts back at a blank page every so often.  It doesn’t matter if you’re Joe Schmoe or Steven King—that blank page is a great equalizer. We all have to go through it, whether we’re just starting out or have several books under our belts.

So don’t forget to love it. Relish that first draft if it’s what you like best. And when you get to the parts you get stuck on, remind yourself of how much better the book will be because of it. Every part of the writing process has a place, and we need it to make the book the best it can be.

But most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the ride.

MarcyKate Connolly writes young adult fiction and becomes a superhero when sufficiently caffeinated. When earthbound, she blogs at her website and ferrets out contests on Twitter.


Jemi Fraser said...

So true! And we can learn to love the parts we don't automatically like. Over the last couple of years, I've found I like editing so much more than I used too - probably because I have a much better idea what I'm doing :)

Rick Pieters said...

Yes! If we're always focused somewhere ahead, then we aren't fully present in where we actually are, in the now, and wherever that is in the journey, the process, is our point of power. Even when that place is hitting a wall, that wall might be telling us it's time to just stand there (or go out and garden)and trust that the process is happening, even when it feels like pushing it is useless. Your title really nails it.

Lynn Proctor said...

i never hardly enjoy the ride unless i don't know i am going somewhere---thank you for my much needed reminder :)

Tracy Bermeo (A2Z Mommy) said...

Excellent post! I had never thought of the process, especially the blank page, as being the great equalizer.

Jean Oram said...

I looooove writing a first draft. For years I have taken it slow, but now I am ready to pour the coal on this steam engine. And I'm going to love it!