When I was a girl, I was fascinated by treasure chests. I was fascinated by how ornate they were, and what might be inside of them. Writers have treasure chests too! And the best part is we can create them, as well as fill them! So, the question remains this: How does a writer create a treasure chest? This goes to the idea I spoke about on the podcast: a draft-drawer. A draft drawer if you remember is a digital file/physical file you keep all your writing in. However, in creating a treasure chest, you single out one piece of your writing that you are drawn to, but perhaps have not had time truly get back to. Your treasure chest allows you to build up and around this particular work. This could be pictures, sketches, even books with baby names! But the treasure chest is for your project, giving it space to grow and be there when you get to it! Every time that you add to it, you are making the decision as to the importance of this project–you are taking your story seriously. Meaning, you are taking your talent seriously. A treasure chest holds more than glittering items–they hold your future. Plan accordingly!
*The 3 F’s of Writing will be tradmarked through JBHarris Writing Services. Look for this book to be released in May 2020 under Divinity Publishing. Thank you! -JBHarris
Avoid the frenzy.
In looking through your draft-drawer, it can be completely overwhelming! Utterly overwhelming! It can be discouraging. It can be nerve-racking! This space–if not put in the proper perspective–can look like a graveyard for your imagination. Which, no lie, can make any writer feel like a complete failure! Or it can lead to what I call ‘the frenzy’.
This is the feeling where you think you have to do everything all at once. This feeling robs you of the weapon that is creative energy. It forces you into a space of panic and doubt–a paralytic for any writer! This is the feeling you have when you feel that you cannot complete anything you have found–which is incomplete. This is also the feeling you have when you believe there is too much in front of you to try and complete what you have found–that is complete.
Conquer ‘the frenzy in three steps (the 3 F’s of Writing)’
Forgiveness. Life is hard. Writing even harder. Accept that what you have in front of you is not burdens, nor the sum total of them. They are opportunities. Wisdom dictates that you never squander them. Everything cannot be done at once–but one thing can be done. Choose wisely.
Focus. There are only 24 hours in a day. No more. No less. With the demands of your time, whatever those are, you have to be generous with yourself. The tool to develop as you take the challenge to complete a writing project is time-management. Dedicate a set day or time to work on what you have you decided to work on. Your work day will be–should be–unique to your needs. Whether this is a specific word count, page count or sprint (writing as much as you can in a set time (as few as 10-minutes or as long as 2 hours; it’s up to you!). Time can be enemy and ally. Make it an ally.
Faith. All writing is an act of complete faith. You are taking something which has only existed in your mind, and taking it –by force!–to a physical media. It’s scary! It is traumatic in some cases! But it is not impossible. Bear in mind that, every work is written one word at a time. One day at a time. One minute at a time. It can be done. It is not overwhelming, and it will not overtake you. Some days are easier than others, yes. On these days, the writing is a joy! On other days, it can feel like Sisyphus. But unlike the myth, the writer–you!–can make it to the top of the mountain. Letter by letter, word by word. If it helps, remember the words of the Little Engine That Could: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
If you think you can, you will.
With Love & Ink,
On my podcast, The Writers’ Block, I talked about this concept I termed ‘the Draft-Drawer’. In this space, we writers keep everything! Old work. New work. Research pieces. Random scraps of work and the things you were too scared to think would become anything! Think of the Draft-Drawer as a catch all, or a junk drawer. Like with all junk drawers, it needs to be cleaned out every now and then.
Make no mistake, your Draft-Drawer can be anywhere! It can be a literal drawer in a physical desk, a file folder in a box, or a folder on your smartphone or other voice recorder. Don’t be afraid to look at what you have started or created.
Let me say it again: Don’t be afraid to look at what you have started or created.
The work you want, you may have already started. It may be something a small as a title, an old magazine or short story. It may already be there! The work you want may just be at your fingertips. How great is that!
I know it can be hard, because there and can be deep emotion attached to what you may find. Yet, you must be brave. You must face what is there–if you can, you have no idea what you will unlock.
Pick up your key.
There is this concept of a draft-drawer on my podcast, The Writers’ Block. But the concept in its entirety is not my own. I heard the marvelous Anne Rice mention that she doesn’t throw any work away–she puts it in a drawer.
Anne Rice says that she does this because she wants to be able to go back and revisit a work, and have something to draw from. I agree. As a writer, you need to have, to develop enough faith in your work that you value even the things you do not complete!
The things you have stored away, hidden away or you find yourself second guessing? Don’t toss them away: save them. Why you may ask? Not everything that is incomplete is impossible. Not every project, every poem, every novel is created, finished in a linear fashion! Some things we start need to sit with us a while longer. The POV redone, more research added. But nothing should be tossed away because the process to create it is hard.
What is in your draft-drawer? What things have you kept? What things do you need to revisit? Why have you not revisited them?
The draft-drawer is a form of self-recycling. Your imagination is both the source and end of all things in this capacity. You control the pace and flow of the work! With you saving the work, this work undone or unpolished, you grant yourself the freedom to start again; creation is at your demand. Do not sell yourself so short as to throw something away.
The Three R’s found in Ecology are apt with writers as well, albeit with a twist:
Rethink. Reuse. Recycle.
The free writes, the stray and floating ideas–what do you have on hand?
On Season 1 of The Writers’ Block Podcast, I talked about the this concept. I talked about how we, as writers, don’t truly know the wealth that we have! In understanding that wealth you have, you created, you may have to create something that I call, the draft-drawer.
The draft-drawer is a place where you put all the work you haven’t gotten to yet, aren’t sure where to go next, or things you got stuck on. This could even be snippets of plots, titles, or even snippets of conversation you jot! Your draft-drawer is a both a well and wealth of information!
With the new year, new decade at slow hum, don’t think that you need to recreate the wheel! That can be stressful for a writer, trust me. But you need to know is the new, potent, powerful work may just be hidden in a file. It may be incomplete. It may be in the transition from the thoughts in your head to the words and worlds on the page.
The work is there. The work has always been there. It’s your job to either find it, complete it, or find more of it.
Be brave. The world is waiting.
Last week, I found 3 drafts of books I wanted to start. Not one. Not two. But three of them. This is the concept of the Draft-Drawer that I talked about on the podcast, The Writers’ Block.
In this, the last month of the year, the last year of this decade, I invite you to look at your Draft-Drawer. Look at what you planned to do. What you wanted to do. It is sometimes when you are faced with what you planned for yourself, that you actually being to do it.
Get to work, dear ones. Don’t let the year end with your work not done.
You’ll thank me later.
With Love & Ink,