M.A. Wohl

Writer on a Quest

I started writing stories when I was 9 years old. I never stopped.

At first, writig was an escape, then a dream. One thing was constant: I always, always enjoyed writing.

Since I decided to work my hardest to make that getting traditionnaly published dream come true, writing has become stressful.

Doudt is haunting me. Words are hiding behind outlines, characters arcs and that freedgin’ creativity killer, way too famous beat sheet. Roaming the Web for tips and tricks has helped me, for sure, but it also filled my head with pressure, with the feeling of constantly running out of time.

It doesn’t make any sense.

The Ten years goal

A successful author once said in a interview : « When I decided to earn a living writing books, I gave myself ten years. You do that for ten years and if you don’t succeed, do something else. »

She worked as a waitress when she finished University. Her first book, a novel about a single girl in love with her cats (its way better then it sounds, trust me), was a success, but not the kind of success you quit your day job over.

She then published a mystery novel. It when best-sellers. Every single novel she then wrote also went best-sellers.

Since then, for more than nearly 30 years or so, she is been one the rare author in my tiny province up North to be able to live by her pen.

I set a similar goal for myself. Ten years. Either it works, either you go grow Christmas Tree in a remote place away from the publishing world.

It means writing a novel every nine months or less. A good novel even!

It means keep querying, and keep writing, while, you know, raising your kid and earning a living.

It sounds like a computer program. It certainly doesn’t sound like fun at all.

How to have fun while writing a novel

I had to set aside the deadlines and more so, I absolutely had to stop endlessly looking for some new, faster, better way to write a novel.

Instead, I looked for and finally found my old stories. Yep, the one I wrote on paper when I was 9 years old, 12 years old, 17 years old.

Good news: my writing skills improved since those good old days. So did my storytelling skills. Also, it reminded me of awesome times with my friends from back then. Lots of fun memories! Going down memory lane helped me rebuilt some confidence in my writing.

Another thing that helped me bring the fun back is I stopped stressing about is the dreaded day-to-day word count goal.
It is a goal, not homework.
I do take writing very seriously, but I need to have serious fun as well. Powering through a scene problem, or a backstory thing, saying I will fix it later just because I want those 1 500 words is not working for me. What works for me is writing a fun paragraph, stop to brainstorm a bit or fix the outlined right away, if I have one. Making the characters more complex, making the story better, that’s fun.

I stopped forcing myself to write every day, every night, plus I lowered my word count goals.
Here’s the thing, I set myself up to succeed in a professional field where I have very little control over things, and where the elusive luck itself plays a major role.
Who needs to feel guilty and discouraged and disappointed pretty much every day on top of that?

Not me, not anymore… she hoping with all her heart.

Until next time !

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