The other day, I was driving to church with my family, and I was talking to my wife about a project I had going. It’s a WWII novel about the 2nd Ranger Battalion. I was, and am, very excited to work on it but, as I disclosed to my wife, it frustrated me because while I was researching for this project, all I really wanted to do was to write it out. The research was going good, but what I really wanted to do was write the story.
My wife said something to me that was pretty profound. She told me to enjoy the journey. My wife is a part of a group for mothers who are dealing with postpartum depression, Postpartum Resource Group. One of the things they were going over was enjoying the season of life that you’re in and the next part to that is enjoying the daily grind, or the journey. What it translated to me was to enjoy the research, the hours of reading and writing down the facts so you can get to the story.
This got me thinking about the whole writing process. I seem to notice that I get in a hurry to tell the story and I think a lot of other writers do, just because we get excited about telling the story. But do we really enjoy the story?
As a writer, you get the story bug and you can’t help but to write it down and get it out of you. It’s a treasure you want to share with the world. But how often do you we enjoy it? Enjoying the story is having a laser-like focus on it and reveling in it. Treat it like that fantastic movie or book you enjoyed that you can’t stop thinking about. Enjoy the story, take it slow. Don’t rush it. It’s in those moments that new light is shed on certain aspects of the story we didn’t think about, and, thus, makes it better.
By enjoying the story, we strengthen it, because we are giving more thought to it than if we would have just thought it out and written it out.
This is the part of the process where a lot of writers drop projects. Why? Simple. It’s hard! True, we love telling stories and this is where we get to tell the story, but this is also where plot questions come to mind and the nagging self-doubts that so often accompany writers come up. The grind is where, as we’re telling the story, those thoughts that nobody is going to like it and it’s going to fail filter into our mind and penetrate our subconscious. This is where most projects flop because we give into those thoughts and we stop.
Enjoy the grind. How can you enjoy something like this? How many people actually sit down and write out the movies that play in their heads? When I first started out writing, I started writing my versions of my favorite things. Westerns, Harry Potter, Dragonball Z, and yes, I did merge Harry Potter and Dragonball Z into one project. I never finished it because I ran out of material (or got distracted by another project) but I loved it because it was my creation and I was enjoying myself.
I think the only difference between people who write and people who don’t, is the people who write have the discipline to sit down and write out what is going on in their head. I’ve talked to countless people who have great ideas for movies but never think or tell me they can’t sit and write it out. That’s okay. I’ll take them and create that movie or that book that you want to see so badly.
This is what we’re supposed to enjoy about the grind: the creative process. From thinking up an idea that gives birth to multiple ideas that merge into one beautifully crafted work of art. We’re all going to have those self-doubts and concerns about producing something that came from your imagination. But that can’t keep us from doing it. The creative process is a beautiful thing that often gets overlooked because we’re so focused on the end result, we don’t take pleasure in what we’re creating.
By enjoying the story first, we sharpen the first part of the creative process and that’s where we have a better chance at succeeding in getting the story told. We’ve thought of the story from every possible facet!
So, writers! Get to your desks and start banging away at your keyboard. Create something beautiful and share it with the world. Criticisms be damned! If they can think up a better story let them write it, but write your own and own it! Grab an inspirational book and get to it.
People who don’t write! Got the next Jason Bourne or Indiana Jones? Stop talking about it and write about it! Even if it’s a chapter a day, a chapter a week, or whatever, it’s more than most people think about doing. Will there be sacrifices along the way? You bet. Are they worth it? A hundred times yes. There isn’t much that can compare to you holding your own copy of your own work that you created from scratch.
I forget who said it, but someone said that a story doesn’t have to be long. It just has to be told. So, tell it.