Last week, here in the United States, was the Fourth of July. It’s the celebration of American independence, so it’s a big deal around here (not mention, it’s my wife’s favorite holiday). That was on a Wednesday this year – smack in the middle of the work week.
I’ve just begun my streak of writing 1,000 words per day for my Hardwick series. I did keep it up during the holiday, but writing Episode 22: Scope was a bit of a challenge on a different front: planning.
I’m not a “pantser”
There are two types of writers in this world: “plotters” and “pantsers”. Plotters are, as you can imagine, writers that like to plan out their writing ahead of time – the major beats of the story, where you’re headed, all that fun stuff. When they sit down to actually write, they already know what they are going to write.
Pantsers write “by the seat of their pants”. So they just make it up as they go.
I’m a plotter. I find it’s best if I take a few minutes to really flesh out the story before I dive in, so I know where I’m writing to at all times. I can work out interesting plot points and developments right away, and then incorporate them into the story.
A combination of a holiday and a 1K streak cornered me into “pantsing” this recent episode of Hardwick.
Now, this was totally avoidable. But I just kept plowing forward, as I have had a lot to do this past week and I didn’t want to miss a day of my streak. Because I didn’t take the time (a half hour or so) to develop my story, I jumped into each day’s 1K just writing blindly.
Rushing hurt the story
I should be clear: I like Scope. I think it’s an interesting story, and I always enjoy writing the serial killer-type plotlines every season. Plus, I was able to weave in Charlie’s continued transition back to his normal self, and I think that worked out pretty well.
But there are parts of it I wish I would have done differently. I would’ve created more urgency. I would’ve had a longer and more tension-filled confrontation with the killer at the end. Both of those things would have drastically improved the story.
I was rushing to keep my word counts up, and to keep my streak going. As I get ahead of the game with this streak, I’ll have a little more time to edit and adjust stories. This time, I didn’t.
And that’s okay.
I don’t hide my struggles
Writing is hard.
I don’t need to pretend like it isn’t. I listen to a lot of podcasts and read a lot of material written by people who have “made it”. And while they are certainly inspirational, they’re also frustrating because I feel as though their success came easy, while mine has been difficult.
That’s not true, of course. Everyone has to work hard to be successful. Sacrifices and compromises are always made. But we often only hear from writers and entrepreneurs who have already succeeded, and it leaves us – or at least me – feeling like a bigger failure.
That’s why I like to document my struggles. I’m actually going to be doing more of that in the future. I want my fellow writers and fellow human beings to know that struggle is normal, stress is common, and we all have failures. The difference between those of us who are failures and those of us who wind up succeeding? The successful get back up and keep going, learning more along the way.
I’m learning with every story I write. I’m learning with every writing experiment I conduct. And I share those struggles so that we can all learn together. We can all suffer, we can all stress, and we can all fail.
You can’t be successful without it.