Friday, May 6, 2016

Confessions from a Wanna-Be Writer

So it's confession time.

I haven't written anything creative in MONTHS! Being an English teacher, it's hard to find time to sit down and write. After dealing with developing teenagers and all their angst, I don't want to do anything except read or play video games. Maybe watch some mind-numbing television.

But I have to tell you, I've been developing a little bit of jealousy toward my students. You see, I MAKE them write. I give them a loose prompt and have them create a half page story almost everyday. I keep all their writings in a folder and will hand them back at the end of the year so they can see how they've developed as writers. The other day, I was going through them and I was astonished to see how their creativity has expanded and their stories have become vivid creations. While it warmed my heart, at the same time I realized that not only has my writing come to a sudden halt, my development as a writer has also.

I feel as if I have a calling to be a writer. It's something that has been on my mind since I was in high school. I actually decided to get my Bachelor's in English with the sole hope of becoming a writer right out of college. I think about writing everyday. I daydream about being able to share stories that are in my head with others. I look at my favorite authors and see how they weave letters and words into tale like it's magic.

The only thing holding me back is...myself. I'm sure we have all had those moments when we are writing, we look back at what we had just typed and think, "What garbage!" Self-doubt is horrible. Then you end up sitting around, hoping for a muse to inspire you, a creative lightning bolt to strike you, or some other hocus pocus to lend a hand to your writing slump.

The other day, looking at my students' papers, I had an epiphany. I had to practice! I had to keep writing even if it *was* garbage.

Last year I wrote a full length manuscript with my writing pal. With his encouragement and suggestions, I completed it. Looking back on it, I can see where I was weak and how I improved over time. I can also see where my plot was very linear without many twists and turns. I was told that I had to go back through my story and edit it. After completing that monster, I didn't have the heart to go back. At the same time, I couldn't go forward with those same characters because I knew if I changed things in the previous story then it would mess things up for the next one...

But last Thursday, I decided that I would just free write. I thought about try some of the newer ideas I had come up with, but my heart wasn't in it. Something kept holding me back. I thought back to my completed, yet unedited manuscript. Those characters kept calling to me. When I put my fingers to the keyboard, I realized for the first time what authors mean by "characters take over." Scenes and dialogue were pouring out, all from my characters. In a 45 minute period at school, I had written more then I had all year. It was a Christmas miracle! (in May...)

So with confession and divine intervention, I am now making a promise to the MMW family. I will set aside 4 hours a week until school is out to write. Another 4 hours a week will be dedicated to editing my completed manuscript. Those numbers will of course increase once summer hits, but I need you to keep me accountable. I will start to add percentages to my posts so you can track my progress.

Let's go team!

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