Several weeks ago I blogged about the importance of not comparing yourself to other writers.
Today I feel compelled to blog about the importance of not comparing yourself to yourself.
It’s something I’ve found myself doing a lot the last few days and I’m driving myself a bit crazy.
(Insert joke here about the short drive)
I’m generally a pretty fast writer. On average, it takes me about three months to write a novel from start to finish.
However, that doesn’t take into account the fact that I’m abysmally slow at writing the first three chapters of any book. I spend those first 50+ pages figuring out who the characters are, where the story is headed, and what might take place between “it was a dark and stormy night” and “the end.”
Half of my brain is occupied by this task, while the other half is occupied by the dual tasks of berating myself for my slowness while distracting myself with more pleasurable tasks like clipping the dog’s toenails.
The conversations in my head go something like this:
Responsible Tawna: Hurry up already! You wrote five pages yesterday and we just deleted four of them because they sucked donkey dongs.
Slacker Tawna: I wonder if I could find that funny online video about cats?
Responsible Tawna: This book is already sold and your editor and agent will both hate you if you don’t finish it.
Slacker Tawna: Yup, found the cat video. Still pretty funny. It’d be even better if I had an ice cream bar.
Responsible Tawna: Don’t you remember that weekend you wrote 75 pages in one sitting? Now you can’t even do five pages in a weekend? You’re blowing it, blowing it!
Slacker Tawna: Heh-heh – you said blowing.
And on and on and on until I’m forced to find a bottle of Tylenol and/or Chianti to make the headache go away.
Though I probably do deserve the occasional scolding from myself, I also need to learn to cut myself a break. The me who can crank out four chapters in a weekend is still the same me who can stare at a blank page all day and accomplish nothing more valuable than cleaning the keyboard with a Q-tip. Both the speedy writing and the ridiculous time wasting are a part of the process, and I have to let that process run its course.
Even if I’m not always running at a very consistent pace.
So I’ll continue to slog through these early chapters until I reach a point where I feel more like the me who writes clever prose at a quick clip instead of the me who just spent an hour deciding what color T-shirt my hero is wearing.
How about you? Which part of a novel do you struggle with the most? Do you compare yourself to yourself? Have you found any effective medications to deal with it? Tell me about it in the comments.
I’ll be over here picking dog fur out of my mouse.