In my writing, at least, there comes a moment when I'm no longer in charge; the inmates have taken over the asylum and the story is writing itself. And there's nothing I love more than that moment. A lot of writing is work—editing and revising can be downright grueling—but writing a first draft can be magic. I can hardly get the words out fast enough when I hit that magic spot. It's like a drug, and it makes me want to write more, to go through the looking-glass or the magical wardrobe and just stay in that other world for hours. Often during such episodes, I have to be reminded to eat, sleep, and take care of bodily functions. (Just let me finish this chapter, and then I'll go to the bathroom!) I think a whole year went by once where I forgot I had a kid.
But what happens when the magic is gone? When you sit down to write and suddenly every word is like pulling teeth? When you've fallen into a giant plot hole and you can't get up?
Well, I have a magical mantra for that moment: Write it anyway. Write a big stinking mess if you have to, but write.
One of my early manuscripts sprang out of my imagination and my keyboard like it was birthed fully formed from the head of Zeus as I sat and wrote nonstop for three months, while the one before that was a painstaking labor of eight years. (Or fifteen if you want to count the version I started as a novella in high school—which I don't, and will deny any knowledge of if asked.)
Most of what I've written, however, has been much more of a mix—magical bursts of inspiration interspersed with agonizing plods up a steep hill (barefoot, through snow). Each time I lost the magic and found myself staring at a blank page, I had to remind myself: Write it anyway. Sometimes it takes just a few minutes of forcing myself to write through it to get back into the groove. Other times I end up with pages of stinking mess that I'll have to go back and deal with later, but they get me to the other side and eventually back to the magic.
That book I birthed through parthenogenesis may never come to anything, and the one that caused me 26 hours of excruciating back labor (er, wait...that was my son) definitely won't. But they were both part and parcel of the magical elixir of "write it anyway"—write it even if you think it's awful; write it even if it's never going to be read. Do not ignore the muse. (Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.)
Write It Anyway also works for maladies such as Black Moods, Crying Jags, Fits of Hysteria, Moments of Despair, and the ever-popular Why Did I Ever Think I Could Write a Book??
Try it and see what you think.*
*Caution: Write It Anyway elixir may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds. Discontinue use of Write It Anyway if any of the following occurs:
- tingling in extremities
- loss of balance or coordination
- slurred speech
- temporary blindness
- profuse sweating
- heart palpitations
**Author may have been under the influence of Write It Anyway while composing this post.