I’ve reached to a stand-still whilst working on my manuscript at the moment. I didn’t realise fully, until now, how solitary writing can be, how it’s just me typing away at my laptop – I’m the only one writing the words, developing them in my brain to put onto paper. These collected thoughts add up to create a greater picture – a story – that I hope one day people will read, but for now it’s just me. For the first draft, it is my thoughts alone that craft the world.
In the digital age we are in, it’s easier to rope other people in that can make us feel like this solitary environment isn’t so lonely after all. We can tweet about our word counts (usually when they’re high, but sometimes when they’re low), we can call on people for motivation. I don’t like to think I need the validation, to rely on other people to make me feel good about my writing even if they’re not actually reading the words I’ve written, but lately I’ve been forgetting the enjoyment of writing and doing it to one-up myself and then tweeting about it to prove my point.
I love social media but I’ve realised that the numbers game (the striving for more followers, a bigger reach, etc.) has walked over to my writing and taken over big time. Instead of writing a scene because I want to, because I’ll enjoy getting it written, I’ve been thinking about it in terms of numbers – how many words will this add today, how fast can I write it? It’s blurring the lines between writing because I’m passionate about it and writing because I feel like I have to do it.
I’ve also currently been finding company in other books. I can simultaneously avoid working on my novel and try to glean writing advice from within the pages of timeless classics, but I have discovered that this has the potential to be harmful to my productivity and self-esteem. You see, I’ve come to realise that I can read as much Virginia Woolf as I want but I’ll never write like Virginia Woolf because I am not Virginia Woolf. I find her stream of consciousness so beautiful and lyrical but comparing my writing to her writing in the process will not help anyone – if I tried to replicate it, it would be just that: a replica of Virginia Woolf’s writing.
I sometimes wonder if I didn’t occupy this corner of the Internet, if I didn’t keep up with this blog and involve myself in the writing community, if I would still write. It’s the demon lurking in the depths of my head – “You wouldn’t be doing this if you didn’t know other writers.”
So I try to remind myself now – I have always loved writing. I take comfort in leaking words out through my typing fingers and making sense of them once they’re in front of me. Writing to me is like breathing; I can’t live without writing, just like I can’t live without breathing.
Here is my advice to myself: Write because you love it, because if you don’t you’ll go insane with the words building up in your head. Write for YOU – anyone else is a bonus.