One of the most difficult aspects of a writer’s life is continuity. Whether in the realm of a single writing, making sure everything matches and flows in the correct order, or in the larger scheme of life, continuing to publish regularly on a blog or sitting down and actually finishing a manuscript. Often as a writer I find myself more enthralled with the ideas and letting everything flesh out in my head (which never happens) before putting words on paper (or pixels on a computer screen) than is healthy for my work.
Even this blog, with the loose requirement on myself of publishing at least one post a week, is difficult to maintain at times. It isn’t that I don’t have things to say, it’s a certain type of block: thinking the things I have to say will interest no one. It is separate from the block I get when writing on projects (whether they be shorts stories, poems, or novels), which is more about whether I will be able to express my world in a way people will understand.
When I first started writing a novel I’m currently working on, I rewrote the first chapter over 15 times. I’ve only written four chapters. The biggest block to my completing projects is my perfectionism. I try to make everything perfect on the first pass, which is impossible. It took me over a year to write chapter four, and I wonder how I will ever complete my novel. Yet the first manuscript I completed was done in 30 days (thanks, National Novel Writing Month!), but I haven’t gotten around to actually revising it, and I can count on one hand the number of individuals who have read it.
In our present age of social media, many count their likes and re-tweets as a measure for their lives. The only way I fall prey to this idea is with blogs. If my words receive no views, no interactions, I feel the pointlessness of it all. Yes, I write for myself, but I also write so others can see new views of the world. It isn’t about needing people to agree with me, but a desire to share the joy found by reading I have felt.
In a way few other mediums offer, writing allows insight into the thoughts and actions of individuals vastly different from each other, visits to fantastical or real places, and a chance to be a part of momentous events without the danger of living through them. Reading is the last place left for exploration, unless you happen to work for a space program. Most of the world has been explored, mapped, and subjugated. With so few wild spaces left, books provide a safe avenue for those with a thirst for adventure.
Reading saved my life. Every new book brought new friends, new worlds, and a reason to continue living. I learned empathy by living in the minds of those different than myself. I write to reach others the same way.