Writing is hard.
It comes more naturally for some than others, but everyone has struggled with their own writing problems at one point or another. Perfectionism and self-doubt are the biggest obstacles for me; I struggle with them every single time I sit in front of my laptop, staring at a blank page.
I hit 45,000 words on my current project and I’m now closing in on 50,000. While I feel like this should be something to celebrate, I can’t help but feel like I should have more words written. I come down hard on myself for not spending enough time on actual writing, and instead spending time on editing what I’ve already written. I think this is where my perfectionism comes into play: I love editing (an unpopular opinion, I know). It makes me feel good to find the flaws in my writing and polish it into something I myself would want to read. There’s nothing wrong with editing while you write, but I find that this habit has slowed me down significantly. While it will save me from having to do more work later on, I would much prefer to look at the first draft as a whole. Still, I find it hard to continue on when I’m unsatisfied with the words I’ve already written. There’s been times when I’ve edited the same paragraph over and over again, only to look at the clock and see that an hour has gone by… an hour that could have been spent on moving further along with the project. I keep reminding myself to just write for now and worry about the editing part later. I think this is the best way to go, for my own sanity and productivity.
Self-doubt also creeps in while I’m writing. I can’t help but think to myself, would anyone want to read this? Would I even want to read this? The second question is by far the more important one. If you’re not writing for yourself, who are you writing for? You could write something that other people would love, but isn’t it more fulfilling to satisfy yourself? To have a finished product that you could be proud of? Sometimes I reread something and want to rip it to shreds. Other times, I reread something and can’t believe I was the one who wrote it. I try to hold on to these moments of confidence so that I may be motivated to continue.
Lately, I’ve found that if I seclude myself in a space that is not my apartment, I can get a lot more done. I can sit in a cozy cafe or a quiet public library and type for hours without even noticing the time go by. Now, I just need to find a routine. I want to be able to set goals for myself, to keep myself on a schedule. I find this to be another challenge to overcome, with my life being as hectic and unpredictable as it is. Still, this may just be another one of the many excuses I give myself. This whole process is a learning experience, and I’m taking it step-by-step while trying not to be too hard on myself along the way.
I will finish this project, even if it never sees the light of day, and I know that it will be an accomplishment that I will feel immensely proud of. Until then, I can only spend each day battling perfectionism and self-doubt with each word I type on the page.