Writing tip: Catching the mouse
Solano Writers Society meets weekly to discuss goals and spend an hour writing in community. Inevitably, when the group comes together, there are people who have crushed their goals, “I planned to finish Chapter 5, but I was able to finish Chapter 6 as well!” and people who struggled, “I aimed to write three poems but was only able to do 1.5.” In community, it’s easy to be excited for those doing well and just as easy to tear ourselves down for not meeting our own deadlines. We’re a writer’s society, not full-time authors, so we can’t expect to produce the work a fresh brain with all the time at our disposal would be able to. And yet, we love it, we crave it, we need to write and feel like we’re dishonoring the craft if we can’t show up “in the right way.” The important thing to remember is that we can only be where we’re at.
Will dedication and perseverance and hard work build our skills faster? Absolutely.
Could we be doing more? Valuable question.
But it’s important that we can look honestly at that question. Can we really be doing more or does our self-critic have us convinced of something impossible? Were we able to write two chapters last week because we got off a little early from work, things are going well with the significant other, and we had energy to give? Or were we unable to complete our three poems because our tires got slashed, we had to help our mom through a crisis, and we didn’t have the energy to dedicate?
Think of sitting down to write like building your writing muscles. You can’t go from lifting 5lb dumbbells to 45lb in one week. It takes daily, weekly, consistent dedicated time to achieve progress. It is the same with writing. You can’t expect to produce a lot of content in a short period of time without the practice of continually sitting down to write and providing for yourself the space to be creative in how you sleep, what you’re eating, who else you are emotionally supporting, and what actual time you have for your craft. You will get there, but be kind to yourself and reflect honestly if you’re still just a baby tiger trying to catch that mouse on the first try.