Posted by: oneyearbook | June 25, 2009

Seven lessons to learn from my failure, Part IV

We’re supposed to learn lessons from our failures. I mean, that’s what people always say when they want someone to feel better about something going wrong – ‘you’ll know for next time,’ that sort of thing. So I’ve been thinking it over. I talked about some of the reasons my first manuscript wasn’t working when I made the decision to shuck it off like a bad skin, but this week, every day, I’ll share one of seven lessons I think I can take away from the experience.

LESSON 4.

This lesson, ladies and gents, is about boredom.

Do not be bored while you write. If you do, everyone will be bored when they read it. Don’t push yourself to write what you’re not inspired about. Not to say you should sit around and not write; it’s more, “go get inspired.” Or find something you are inspired about to write about.

This is semi-related to the whole ‘write what you know’ gospel. Sometimes, I’d think about my manuscript, and I’d say, “Self? If you saw this book in a bookstore, would you want to read it?” And then I’d think, “No, but …” And it wasn’t really clear what went after but. Absolutely not the sort of book that I like to read, and yet there I was, writing it. Problematic. I like to talk about the ‘ideal reader’ that I can envision, reading my work – but maybe I need to keep in mind that I, in many ways, should be that ideal reader. I need to be excited by a project.

I pushed myself to reach a word count every day; some days I created scenes just for the pure need to fill out a word count. Now, I’m not saying a word count goal is bad. But writing words only to reach one is. I still keep track (although not to the same detailed extent as I did last time – I’m not writing it on the calendar or keeping a spreadsheet with the information) of how much I write each day, and I’m disappointed if I only manage 500 words. And, in fact, most days I’m working much faster than that. But each of those words was written for a reason outside the word count monitor. And I’m certainly not bored while writing them.

Lesson learned: Be engaged by the work you’re doing; if not, find different work to do.

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