We’ve all read the articles that never fail to offer the same piece of advice: keep writing. It’s good advice, but it needs a caveat that I rarely see. And that is: don’t forget to live your life.
I have two kids, and I often pick them over writing. I’m still unpacking from our move, and I need to dig out my dishes and search for my linens rather than spend time writing. Sometimes I just want to read for fun. Is that so wrong?
The ‘write before all else’ advice dismisses the possibility that other methods work too. It is advice that had me reeling in a panic that if I couldn’t manage the perfect habits, I couldn’t attain my goals.
Well, to hell with that, and thank God I realized it. I don’t always choose writing first. Yeah, I like the craft. Yeah, I hope to publish my work soon. But writing isn’t the only thing going on in my life, and I’m okay with that.
You know what I don’t need in my kitchen cabinets?
I don’t know about up north, but down in the south it would take a miracle to keep roaches out of your house. I’m talking one or two, mind you, not an extended family.
And then I moved.
God bless the people who lived in the house before me, but they need a lesson in Roach 101. One of the key rules is Don’t Clutter Your Cabinets. It’s pretty simple, but it takes a proactive approach. You can’t cram as many appliances, containers, and foodstuffs into your kitchen as will fit. You have to be selective in what you save. You have to go through it and clean house throughout the year.
And if you don’t – beware.
You’ll hear a little scurry from time to time when you open a cabinet door. You’ll see evidence of their gnawing, pooping, reproducing and other recreational activities. You’ll determine out of disgust that you can’t bear to open the cabinet further and find the truth of what’s living right above your stove top.
The same applies to writing, people.
As tempting as it is to coast through your novel without noting the flaws along the way, it is risky business. You don’t have to stop mid-story to do a full edit, but revise here and there. Toss out extra adverbs. Kick a redundant paragraph aside. Know what will need review and observe yourself with a critical eye.
If you don’t, you’re in real danger of building a world that is in such overwhelming need of revision that you’ll shy away from digging in. You won’t uncap the red pen for fear of the work you have ahead of you. And what a shame – for you and for all of the readers who might have enjoyed it.