Lessons learned: five habits I’m eradicating to help my writing

A couple of weeks ago, I finally admitted defeat and abandoned a manuscript I’d been working on for months. The immediate sense of relief was quickly replaced by the excitement of letting my creative mind wander and explore new ideas.

Since then my imagination has taken me to sparsely populated isles, distant coastlines and the backstage of a vaudeville show (via a time travelling treehouse) on the hunt for a story. I’ve loved every minute of it and honestly feel that I now have the basis of enough stories, interesting characters and unusual settings to fill tens of books. It’s worth saying that I also came up with enough convoluted plotlines, clichéd characters and dull settings to fill many tens of bin bags.

One idea has stubbornly refused to leave me alone, and I’m desperate to get started on it

BUT

the sensible side of my brain has the easy-breezy creative side in a headlock whilst it incoherently screams ‘let me at it’ (I’m not the only one who pictures their brain to be indistinguishable from a Wetherspoons on a Friday night, right?).

I am so excited about this one, and so determined to give it the best possible chance of being THE one that I complete and can be proud of that I am holding myself back. I’ve borrowed from my project management background and carried out a lessons learned review of my past projects to increase the possibility of success. Who says those skills aren’t transferable?!

Here’s part one of the results – five things I WILL NOT be doing this time around:

  1. I WILL NOT FREAK OUT ABOUT HOW BAD THE FIRST DRAFT IS

“The first draft of anything is shit” ~ Ernest Hemingway

I don’t know if Ernie is right or not, but this definitely applies to my work. Especially – and unsurprisingly – when I compare it to the final, published drafts of the bestseller lists.

I’m going to save myself (and my other half) the drama and exhaustion of regular melt downs and just focus on getting this story out of my brain.

  1. I WILL NOT THINK OF WRITING AS A HOBBY THAT CAN BE PUT ASIDE WHENEVER I FEEL LIKE IT

The corporate project manager me was super-productive and hyper-organised. She maintained momentum and she never missed a deadline.

I don’t want to take the fun out of my new career but I do want to make sure that I’m taking it a little more seriously and not allowing myself to slink away when things get tough.

  1. I WILL NOT BE A NEGATIVE NELLY

I’m going to give my self a break. Instead of punishing myself for the words I have not written in a day, I will celebrate the ones I have. I will not lament how long everything is taking me, but will congratulate myself for getting as far as I have. I will not be embarrassed by my lack of gainful employment, but will give myself a pat on the back for following my dreams.

  1. I WILL NOT FIGHT MY INSTINCTS

I am not a literary fiction genius, I look for the fantastical in the everyday, and I enjoy writing the most when I make myself laugh.

I will never write like Philip Pullman so I’m going to stop trying.

  1. I WILL NOT BE A SECRET SQUIRREL

I will stop behaving like a kid who is worried about their homework being copied and will put some real effort into sharing some of my writing. I will handle feedback with dignity and grace, and I will not be tempted by physical violence.

Next time : Five things I WILL be doing this time around

 

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