I spent the holidays with Sarah here, and as such I didn’t do much beyond be dad and do chores around the house. I think the most exciting thing was putting a new 20 amp breaker in the panel and wiring up power to the cottage near the new horse pasture. Well, that wasn’t all that exciting, but testing the new electric-tape fence was at least somewhat amusing I guess. As I couldn’t find the fence tester I got last year for Christmas, I figured I’d just do what I did last time and use my hand.
The jolt from a solar-powered box with a 2500 milliamp battery is basically equivalent to the zip you get from a 9v battery on your tongue times two. The jolt from an AC fence energizer that can power ten miles of fence and runs dedicated off a 20 amp breaker over 12 gauge wire is…stronger. Like, “red scorch mark on your hand” and “knee buckles out from under you” stronger. Let us just say that I didn’t have to test it a second time.
Anyway, the thing I didn’t do over the holidays was write. Anything. At all.
A couple of weeks ago I got a comment that, for a lot of reasons, hit a pretty deep nerve. Explaining why means opening up and sharing something very personal.
As I’ve discussed before, growing up my mom wrote novels. A lot of novels. And won awards. And spoke at conventions. And signed books for hours and hours at signings. And talked to a lot of aspiring writers.
All of those aspiring writers had one thing in common, they honestly and truly believed they could write at a professional level. MANY of them would have my mom read something they had written and ask for advice. My mom was so good at saying positive things and encouraging them to follow their dreams. But there’s a dark side to that happy memory. Of the hundreds of people who asked her for advice, the exact number of people who had any conceivable chance of being published by a paying market was exactly zero. Not a one. Over twenty-five years my mom encountered exactly no-one with even a reasonable grasp of English and the ability to string words into sentences and sentences into something that anyone would willing pay money to read. Nada. Zip. Nil. Goose-Egg. Doughnut. ZERO.
But every single one of them believed they could. They looked at what they’d written and were completely oblivious to the flaws. Something in them said “this is good enough” and went out looking for confirmation.
In the years since, I’ve dabbled in the professional writing industry. I know editors and agents, and I have some pretty good insight into how it all works and I’ve done enough light editing and structure advice for others that I know how to critique, how to revise, how to take what is there and fashion it into something professional. Something people would pay for. I imagine that there are life choices I could have made that would have led me into the production side of the industry as an editor or agent (or at least that side of the industry, those jobs are tough as tough can be and I don’t have the hubris to believe I could have just moseyed in and magically gotten one of the premier jobs in the industry).
I know enough about the slushpile (the place where unsolicited manuscripts go to languish) to know that for every manuscript with the potential to be published that crosses the threshold, at least a thousand piles of dreck masquerading as written words crossed over before it. Piles of dreck that someone honestly thought was the best “synopsis and three” they could put out. Piles of dreck that someone believed in enough to put their name on and send out into the world.
I do not understand this.
Every moment of every day I have an insidious imp of self-doubt sitting on my shoulder and whispering into my ear all the reasons I’m not good enough. My greatest challenge isn’t believing that I’m “the best” or that I’m “good enough” or anything like that…my challenge is just ignoring the imp. I don’t have to believe I’m the best, I just have to believe I’m not as crappy as I’m afraid I am.
“Who would write this?” he says to me. “Who would be stupid enough to publish this where people could read it?”
I stopped answering long ago, but my silence is simply encouragement to him.
“You know you suck. You know it and you prove it every time you try.”
And because I’m afraid of him, I decide that the best way to avoid my fears is to do something else. He can’t taunt me if I don’t try.
Sometimes I do try, and that’s when he gets personal. You see, because he’s just a metaphorical manifestation of my own insecurities, he knows exactly where to hit me.
“You know what she said. She read everything you’ve ever written and then said that you should ‘keep practicing and just follow your dream’…exactly what she said to every other loser that couldn’t write their way out of a wet paper bag.”
And that does me in. Because it’s true. And it kills me.
Every time I read through my archives I hit some point where the writing just doesn’t shine and the taunts from the imp drown out the glow from the words that I’m proud of having written. Deep down I suspect that this will keep me from ever writing in a significant professional capacity.
Now, please don’t think this is some kind of reverse plea for internet affirmation because that’s the most insidious part of it, I don’t believe them. At least, not for long. Not in a significant or lasting way.
The last time I wrote about this, several people chided me for taking my writing so seriously, “it’s just a blog” and “write for yourself” are true and accurate statements; but they’re also just fodder for the imp. “It’s just a blog” can easily be appended with “because you suck” and nothing anyone can do can change that. Not even me.
When I first started blogging there was one thing that anonymity gave me, and that was insulation from the imp. You can’t take your writing personally when no one knows who wrote it. Which is dangerous. Anonymity may free us from self-doubt, but it also eliminates self-restraint and self-censorship, which are tools civilized people created to prevent the collapse of society.
Two weeks ago someone said exactly what I’m afraid of, that half the stuff I write sucks. I’m afraid of it, because deep down I know half of it does. Nominally, this doesn’t matter because no one (and I do mean NO ONE) actually hits it out of the park every time they swing the bat; and I’m smart enough to know that. But it’s fodder for the imp and that just beats me to the ground.
As I’ve tried to work through this over the last few days I’ve been confronted by a quote someone posted on Facebook:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” -Marianne Williamson
I think this is true. I think I’m not afraid of writing crap, I’m afraid of being a good writer who ALSO wrote crap. Really, I’m afraid of not being able to tell the difference. The imp would have no power over me if I didn’t care. And if I didn’t suspect that something, somewhere, deep down really was worth putting out there then I wouldn’t care at all. I’d do tax-automation integrations and drink a beer at night and worry about fantasy football and my XBox Gamerscore and writing would never cross my mind.
I know what I need to do, I need to write more. The more I produce, the more quality stuff comes out. The more quality I can see, the less power the imp has over me. If I can’t do that, then I need to accept that I’m not a writer and turn the imp loose and climb off this existential roller-coaster. Of course, I know I can’t do that. Without an outlet I become intellectually constipated, which makes me irritable and unpleasant to be around.
So I’m going to ramp back up the writing habit for a while, to see if I can get back to a place where writing happens more frequently if not necessarily more consistently. To that end, I’m considering some other changes around here. I’m going to reset the word count down in the bottom right corner and try to crank out about 20k words a month. As a short blog post from me cracks in at 1500 words that works out to about three posts a week. I’m going to try for a Monday-Wednesday-Friday pattern but we’ll see what we can do.
Also, I’m going to actively try to ramp up the fiction writing over at serialstoryteller.com and include those words in the word count as well. That way even if I’m not blogging I’m still giving myself credit for writing, and that’s really what I need to be doing.
My goal for the next few months (before my birthday in April) is to finish my “What I’m Looking For” series and put up at least two short stories on Serial Storyteller. If I can do that and be around 75k words in the word count bucket I’ll be pretty happy with my progress. If I come up short, well, I’ll just have to buy imp-proof earplugs or something.
We’ll all see how it goes.
[Word Count: 1645]
50% of what everyone writes is crap, the real gift is knowing which 50% to get rid of.
My challenge is that I won’t get rid of any of it, so I have to put up with the crap I don’t like. That is a challenge for me.
At least, that is what I suspect. And Internet publishing, while fantastic and fulfilling and etc, maybe doesn’t get edited as heavily as something that has been published by a respected publisher.
If I have any advantage, it’s that I have a group of people (let’s be honest, a group of women) who edit with amazing skill. I always appreciate that they will gently point out the spelling/grammar/usage fails and help me make my writing better. I owe them all cookies or home-made fudge or something.
Can I make a suggestion?
I’ve read something like this resolution from you probably three times now, maybe four, (by my count since my original blogger blog it’s been five) in the years in which I’ve been following your blog. And I’m sorry to join forces with the imp, but you never fulfill it. You lose momentum and (I’m presuming, because it’s what happens to me) get performance anxiety and it all seems big and overwhelming to do and you stop. Then you get embarrassed for your presumption and you don’t come back until something breaks inside you and you HAVE to come back, no matter how loudly Carrie’s mom screams that “they’re all gonna laugh at you”.
This is a reasonable assumption, mostly because I assume this is how it works for most people, but in my personal case, no. I honestly and utterly don’t care IN THE SLIGHTEST what blogland thinks of me when I don’t write as much as I wanted. Life happens and I have a job that tends to take a ridiculous amount of time. What does kill me is when I write something that I know was crap.
This time, darlin’, why not set your expectations at a more manageable level? Why not say you’re going to try for one post a week, with no particular goal for word count, and then, after a month of success, ramp up on yourself? Two posts a week, no goal for word count. Do something that you can see yourself doing for a year. Every time I’ve eased back on my own expectations, back to a point that’s actually too easy, I’ve wound up exceeding them. Soon enough, I settle at a point that’s more comfortable for me. Sometimes it’s as much as my wild wishful thinking goal, sometimes it’s not. But it’s sustainable, which is the key thing. Big excellent goals don’t mean much if you don’t have the stamina to reach them.
This is a very valid point. This is something I’ve been working through for a couple of weeks now. My primary reason for doing this is that I need to offset my frustration at the lack of quality with the advantages of quantity. Basically my goal is to write enough that two or three stinkers in a row won’t derail me. If I write one lovingly crafted and over-earnest blog post a week I’ll wash out by week two.
If you know yourself and know that you’re able to sustain 20,000 words a week (see next comment) indefinitely, knock yourself out. But that sounds utterly unrealistic to me, even for someone without a full-time job and a real life. (I just finished a 95,000-word novel in December, so I feel slightly qualified to say this.) Why not just set yourself the goal of doing the best you can do? One post a week, no constraints, just words on the screen?
Oh, good point and I didn’t explain in my post. Because words on a screen isn’t my problem. I’ve taken over some of the technical writing for my group, and I produce customer facing communications all day that easily top 5k words for a complex topic. I write a lot, words on screen isn’t my issue. Words on screen that’s focused on creative writing is; and quantity has been a real challenge for me. Not in producing it, God knows I can do that without even batting an eye, it’s producing enough to actually find something that I can look at when the imp is screaming in my ear.
And frankly, dear, I have to tell you that I like your posts better when they’re rambling and real like this, instead of carefully constructed and insanely long like the U2 saga was. I don’t know if that helps you or hurts you, but I really think you need to for-God’s-sake-RELAX about writing and what it is to you, and that’s all I’m trying to say when I give you that backhanded compliment.
My primary problem is that when reading my stuff I tend to stridently disagree. Unfocused “blerp of Nick” posts drive me crazy and irritate the crap out of me. That doesn’t mean that everything that is carefully constructed and insanely long (I didn’t use quotes because that is an entirely fair and accurate description) is “good” or fends off the imp, but if it’s not at least in my “creative writing” space instead of my “verbal/mental diarrhea” space it will have no chance of providing a happy moment down the road when I read it later.
Also, and I say this with the camaraderie of someone who has traded words and ideas and opinions for what has become many years, whenever I yell at myself internally for being so damned earnest and serious about writing I hear your voice telling me I should relax and chill. It lends credibility to the urge to step back and go easier on myself. I’m fundamentally incapable of that, but you should know that I identify the voice that tells me that specifically with you.
There’s a concept in yoga called “the edge”. It’s the point where whatever you’re doing is neither too much or not enough; the point of stretch where you’re actually going slightly beyond your limits, but not going to the point of injury. In a still form of yoga called yin, toying with the edge can be the central thing. I always tell my students in yin that if you find, as you’ve first gone into the pose, that where you thought your edge was is actually back a few inches, go backwards instead of suffering. You’ll be in the pose for way too long (several minutes) to suffer and hurt yourself, when, with careful work, you can find a spot that works better for now, and eventually reach beyond your capacity without injury.
Find your edge. (FWIW, you have to know yourself pretty darn well to be capable of doing so.) Find what’s sustainable, what you can keep up. Because it makes absolutely no difference how much you can write in bursts every half-year. It’s doing it regularly, on and on and on every [day/week/fortnight/month], habitually, that develops the discipline to keep at it with a minimum of insecurity.
So, first off, I’ll think about this example repeatedly over the next few weeks (or longer). There’s an almost exactly equivalent concept in fencing where you learn exactly how much effort to put into a parry and how much to put into a repost. Too much parry, and you’re out of position on the repost; too little parry and your opponent scores a point. When I first started fencing I had a really heavy hand, which is a way of saying I parried much too hard. Bouts would last forever because while no one in my skill group could touch me, I never was in a position to actually succeed at the “point” of fencing which was to score more touches than your opponent.
I knew there was a larger life lesson in that experience, but it wasn’t something I could articulate. Your example is something I can articulate.
Oops, it wasn’t 20,000 words a week, it was 20,000 words a month. That still sounds quite unrealistic to me. Why not 1,000 words a week? See what happens?
Mostly because 1000 words a week isn’t enough to overcome the simple fact that an easy thousand words will inevitably be crap.
Here’s how I break it down: two posts at 1500 words and one post at 2000 words a week would equal 5000 words a week, which is 20k words a month. Now, my typical carefully constructed and insanely long post cracks in at 4-5k words. I use word count because that’s how my brain works. I track word count on all my fiction compulsively, so it’s the measuring stick I use for everything I write; even when word count is a completely meaningless measurement (and for blog posts it is utterly useless as an indicator of anything).
If it counts for anything, this goal actually IS me stepping back from my original goal of blogging twice a week and posting one fiction piece on serial storyteller by Monday morning every week. That’s actually what I’m trying to work up to. Don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret.
Hi again. You missed my point a few times. 😀
Oh, let us not confuse “missed” with “dodged” as we both know the difference. 😛
“I honestly and utterly donâ€™t care IN THE SLIGHTEST what blogland thinks of me when I donâ€™t write as much as I wanted.”
For most of that paragraph, that’s a fair shutdown, but when I said performance anxiety I was actually talking about between you and your screen. Not between you and the internet; between you and your words. For the last hour I’ve been circling my laptop like a go-kart driver, too damn afraid of not putting down the right things to put down ANYthing. That’s not how stuff gets written. I think this may be a big part of your problem. It all has to be of a minimum level of quality, and if it’s not, you feel like you’ve failed. That’s true for programming; if you write shitty code straight off you’ll have to do 30 times more work later, or the program might not even run. In writing, it’s the act of putting words on the page that gets you better at it, even if it’s shitty. Especially if it’s shitty. (Bad writing is easier to fix.) In programming, too, there’s a clear delineation for whether the code works or doesn’t, a base level of quality that’s plain and easy to determine. Not so for writing. It’s all subjective. Something you need to figure out, need to set into an empty shape in your mind, is that there’s no minimum level of quality blogging that you write that I won’t read – that a lot of us out here won’t read. And enjoy.
There are whole books to be written based on this one paragraph, so I’m going to take this in chunks.
First off, I wasn’t trying to dodge the performance anxiety angle, I was just trying to talk through what that meant for me. I’d say you’ve hit it on the head: “too damn afraid of not putting down the right things to put down ANYthing.” Yes, that’s what my brain does. My only coping mechanism for that is to suspend the quality expectation in favor of the quantity expectation. The challenge is that I never judge my work quantitatively, only qualitatively.
I spent about a decade writing code for a living. In the late 90s there was a movement to adopt “agile coding” methods that simply baffle me. It’s all about writing the fastest and dirtiest code possible and then iteratively re-work that code over and over into the best code possible. Which simply sounds like the stupidest work process a pointy-haired-boss could invent. This violates my basic method of deliberate and well designed coding. It’s like picking the stupidest plan possible and then repeatedly doing it over and over and over. It amuses me that my plan for better creative writing is essentially the agile method applied to creative language instead of programming language.
But then, I associate creative writing not with programming but with the other creative process I used to be skilled at, fine art. When practicing your drawing or painting, unless you’re focusing on working a specific technique, you never delete your mistakes. The exercise isn’t about redoing lines that aren’t perfect, it’s about finding and emphasizing the beauty in the imperfection. That’s the difference between fine art and technical drawing. (Please understand that I think technical drawing is equally artistic, I’m simply using “fine art” as a description, not a statement of comparative value).
If I take anything away from this back-and-forth session, it may be that writing – like any other art – isn’t about technical perfection, it’s about finding the beauty in the process…smudges, missed arcs, jittery lines and all.
“I write a lot, words on screen isnâ€™t my issue. Words on screen thatâ€™s focused on creative writing is; and quantity has been a real challenge for me. Not in producing it, God knows I can do that without even batting an eye, itâ€™s producing enough to actually find something that I can look at when the imp is screaming in my ear.”
Performance anxiety, you haz it. Maybe give the imp a compulsory day off.
I’m not denying this at all, see above. As for an imp-free day, honey, if I knew how to do this I would treat myself to a gold star and a cookie. For better or (always) for worse, this is simply not a skill I have.
Producing enough to find something you like won’t happen if you approach the production end thinking it has to be a certain level of good. That’s how you choke. And, incidentally, nothing looks good when you’re looking only for flaws. Nothing. Read Portia de Rossi’s terrifying memoir – she talks at length about how hideous she found herself. She’s one of the prettiest women in the world, but all she could see was ugly. Like the opposite of beer goggles. That’s no way to look at your work, even your worst work. It goes into a drawer, not into spikes against your skin.
This is all true at a very fundamental level, and intellectually I know this. It’s the application that I struggle with.
“My primary problem is that when reading my stuff I tend to stridently disagree. Unfocused â€œblerp of Nickâ€ posts drive me crazy and irritate the crap out of me.”
Okay, you SAID YOURSELF, in this EXACT POST to which I am commenting, that you can’t understand how people don’t know that their stuff is crap. That proves to me, if it proves nothing else at all, that humans are very, very bad at judging their own work. That it’s really hard to know whether what you’ve written is good or bad. That third parties are better at this kind of judgment than the person who produced the work. And this doesn’t apply to you because…?
I’m always pretty sure I can spot my own crap. I can understand that some people are overly optimistic or confident in their creative efforts, I’ve seen that plenty of times. What kicks my ass is when people show up and tell me exactly what I already thought of half my writing, namely that it sucks. Yes, I realize it was a trollish comment, and I realize that I shouldn’t let it get me down, but it struck a really deep nerve really hard, and I can either process that or stuff it and let it fester. Obviously I’m trying to work through it and let it motivate me to try harder (or even just try at all).
“…you should know that I identify the voice that tells me that specifically with you.”
Aw, shucks. I’m flattered.
I honestly figured you would be.
“…while no one in my skill group could touch me, I never was in a position to actually succeed at the â€œpointâ€ of fencing which was to score more touches than your opponent.”
Yeah, so, you write really well, but you’re missing the whole point, which is to, um, write.
Without “humblebrag” or “cry for attention” or “pity plea”…I have a terrible time believing (or at least internalizing in a useful way) the first part, which is what has been so brutal about trying to follow through on the second part. It’s not that I think you’re wrong “for you” it’s just that I can’t make myself believe it “for me” which is stupid and destructive, but there it is.
When I first read Edna O’Brien’s book The Light of Evening, I seriously considered giving up writing for the rest of my life, and very briefly considered destroying everything I’d ever written. I knew that no matter how much education and experience I obtained about writing, no matter how good people told me my work was, no matter what course my life took toward or away from the act of authorship, I would never, ever, ever write even half as well as Edna O’Brien. Her work is so astounding that she’s one of those rare artists – like Malick, or Mozart – about whom you can say “There’s every other artist in the world, and then there’s her.” It’s just a different plane than the other 99.9% of work out there.
But I decided to keep writing anyway. Her staggering ability really doesn’t have anything to do with my own middling talent. There will always be people who write better than me, but I’m going to make a go of it anyway. If I think too hard about how good writing can get – how O’Brien’s work reverberates in my soul in a way my own work can never touch – I will never write at all, and no one will get to enjoy my middling talent. Which exists no less than O’Brien’s immortal one. Why should I let her paralyze me?
Why should you let your potential paralyze you? You’ll meet it someday. Maybe. If you can set yourself to more realistic writing goals and stop flaying yourself for work you don’t fancy.
And this is exactly what I’m trying to talk myself into, and why I’m talking about trying to climb back on the wagon one more time.
I wouldn’t describe you as merely a middling talent, and I’m always the first to tell people to write and improve, that’s really all there is to it. I recognize that it’s basically hypocrisy that I don’t apply the same simple logic to myself most of the time; and that, basically, is what this post was really about. Write more. Write something. For everything you create that you love you will create a hundred things you throw away. I just have to keep going after the fourth pile of dreck in a row.
Matt (a fencer from way back) points out that learning how to parry is indeed a valid part of knowing how to fence, but it’s only the beginning of learning how to fence. You learn how to parry to keep your opponent from winning, but you still have to learn how to win yourself. The same thing is true for writing. Just because you can string pretty sentences together doesn’t mean you have learned all there is to know about writing books. (And I say this with utter humility, because I don’t think I know much about how to write books.)
First of all, have you written a book? I believe you have. Therefore, you have plenty to say about writing a book. You may have lots to learn about publishing a book (which has absolutely nothing to do with writing one) but don’t confuse that with the very important fact that you DO know about WRITING a book. Don’t deny yourself that victory.
Second, I completely agree.
After I wrote this paragraph, Matt said that this is exactly what you said. So I’m sorry if I’m restating you. My hope is to rephrase what you said in a way that will give you greater insight. Because that’s what great therapists do, after all.
I found the whole string of comments and responses very therapeutic, so mission distinctly accomplished.
So, ok. We’ve had this discussion before – both you spouting this at me and me spouting it right back. So here it is, the incomperable Ira Glass’ words vomited at your feet (again):
â€œNobody tells people who are beginners – and I really wish somebody had told this to me – is that all of us who do creative workâ€¦like, y â€™know we get into it and we get into it because we have good taste. But itâ€™s like thereâ€™s a gap. That for the first couple years that youâ€™re making stuff, what youâ€™re making isnâ€™t so good, ok? Itâ€™s not that great. Itâ€™s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but itâ€™s not quite that good. But your taste, the think that got you into the game, your taste is still killer, and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what youâ€™re making is kind of a disappointment to you, y â€˜know what I mean? A lot of people never get past that phase â€“ a lot of people at that point, they quit. And the thing I would just like to say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste and they could tell what they were making wasnâ€™t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. It didnâ€™t have the special thing that we wanted it to have, and the thing I would say to you isâ€¦everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if youâ€™re going through it right now, if youâ€™re just getting out of that phase, youâ€™ve got to know itâ€™s totally normal and the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know youâ€™re going to finish one story. Because itâ€™s only by actually going through a volume of work that youâ€™re actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work youâ€™re making will be as good as your ambitions. In my case, like I took longer to figure out how to do this than anybody Iâ€™ve ever met. It takes a while. Itâ€™s going to take you a while. Itâ€™s normal to take a while and you just have to fight your way through that.â€
I think the way you put it to me once was to think of it this way: to do good work – truly GOOD work – you’ve got to get all the crap work out of the way. And the only way to do that is to WRITE and WRITE and WRITE until what comes out is the truly good stuff.
tl;dr – here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbC4gqZGPSY&feature=related
I deeply love that video. That is awesome.
As I agree with everything he says, I’m trying to take my own medicine and just get back to writing more. Get the dreck out so that something worthwhile can follow.
I have already given you my opinion. For now, I will just remind you that I’m cooler than you. ‘Nough said.
I would’ve posted that Ira Glass video/quote if I hadn’t thought you surely had already known of it, BP. It helps me every day – helps me set to my task, and helps me remember that the end of the gap approacheth with every word laid down.
Stephanie posted it to remind me of something I specifically used to encourage her when she was struggling with some of the same things. It’s one of my favorite bits of advice from one of my personal heroes and inspirations.
I’m not just saying this to massage your ego, but I don’t think you’re capable of writing crap. Have you read anything by Meg Cabot? Published author and total crap. You write a million times better than she– and many other published authors– do. So I’m not worried about anything you write being crap. Heck, you even had me interested in Australian football (or something like that).
Oh, I know crap when I see it, but I appreciate your opinion, I really really do; it truly means more to me than I can say.
However, I will say– just as I say to Abby when she’s frustrated by missing math flashcards– practice makes perfect, or at least better. So, so what if something you write isn’t the best. You’d be working at the kinks and learning what works and doesn’t work for you.
Yeah, and it’s good advice for kids so I think it must be good advice for big-kids too.
When I went over my first blog to turn it into a blog book for myself and my parents, I threw out 50% or more of the posts. They were total crap. I can’t attest to the quality of what I write now, but I think it’s better than what it was then. And it’s not influenced by anybody else, which I can’t say about my original writing.
Well, I’d consider one of those early blog-books to be a priceless collector’s item, so the effort that went into the production was clearly worth it. Not being utterly influenced by other writing is actually one of the reasons that I’m staying away from my genre of choice. I’m afraid at this point I’d be more likely to subconsciously channel other people’s voice that I’d never develop my own. Right now I have a writing project that’s out of my usual fiction motif and helps me push my comfort zone a bit. We’ll see where that combination takes us.
I digress all the time. I have whole posts that barely manage to be a semi-connected chain of digressions. Digressions welcome here.
Keep writing. And I agree with what somebody said above. Don’t set your goals so high that you’ll get discouraged if you can’t keep them.
So far (a whopping week in) I’m doing ok. I’ve done enough on the fiction front that I’m keeping my word count up and still feeling engaged in the process. I think that’s pretty much the best I can hope for.