“Every writer I know has trouble writing.”
Wow, am I feeling wiped out! I just spent an intense day pouring over the pages of my YA novel, crossing out phrases, shifting pieces around, and moving whole paragraphs. The floor of my office is littered with discarded text. Even though I thought it would be tough, I forced myself to do something that many editors strongly advise: I read my story aloud to myself. Boy, is this helpful and revealing! Awkward constructions jump out at you, repeated words jump out at you, clichés jump out at you. At the same time, you begin to hear word combinations that are more pleasing to the ear and flow more smoothly. What a difference this makes!
All in all, I had a good work day, but a tiring one. I really stepped on the gas and wiped myself out. In fact, before sitting down to pen this post, I did something I rarely do and lay down for a bit, just to close my eyes and rest for a while. Since it’s late at night, this probably wasn’t the best idea, but I did it anyway, because I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
Did I make any progress? Yes. Not as much as I expected to or wanted to, but there was definite forward motion. My draft is getting stronger and my character is becoming fuller, more real. At least, right now, I think so. But here’s what really matters: I sat on my butt and wrote and rewrote hard and long enough to feel mentally and physically tired. But it’s a good, satisfying fatigue — the kind you feel after working hard all day outside.
So now, I can go to bed feeling good about taking what my friend and mentor Rob Gilbert calls “the pillow test” on his Success Hotline (973.743.4690). When you put your head on your pillow you can say one of two things to yourself: “I wish I had” or “I’m glad I did.” Tonight, I can honestly say, “I’m glad I did,” because I pushed myself hard — and then I pushed myself some more. So often, we stop short of making big, meaningful demands on ourselves. At least I do. I hesitate to push myself into the red zone, where I’m really working to my capacity and then beyond it. But when I do, that’s often where big breakthroughs come.
So let’s step on the gas. Let’s push ourselves into the red zone more often — the zone where we’re tired enough to let our defenses down. Ironically, that’s often the point at which we get a second wind. Write on!