This pep talk is going to be a little different than those who came before me, because while I’m sure what I’m saying can (and will) apply to you, I’m delivering it to myself. Because sometimes, you have to kick yourself into gear—and man do I have to get back into writing shape.
Hey, February-Erica, remember November-Erica? Wow, what a thing, right? November-Erica was in classes full time (hard ones, too!) and had family things going on but was still managing to crank out a few thousand words a day. Every day. Without excuses.
Now, I know you got a bit sidetracked after finishing that first draft. Edits swept away a few weeks of fresh writing, and then you had the excuse of organizing everything for the release of that book, but… What happened? I’ll tell you what happened: YOUR MUSCLES CRAMPED UP.
You stepped away from Scrivener for just a tad too long and now going back feels… weird. Awkward. And that blank page looks more daunting than ever.
So, how do we get back into the groove of things? You’ve never been that kid who just jumped into an ice-cold pool in the summer. Nah, you were the girl wading her way in one step at a time. But the problem with that was that as soon as you were actually in the water, the lifeguard was blowing the whistle for adult swim. Like, dude, give me a minute!
There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, I’m sure of it. Probably something about how wading into things slowly wastes precious, precious time. And that that one lifeguard was a total dick and had it out for you. Wait, that’s not the point of this talk…
ANYWAY, what I’m saying is jump into that damn pool. You’ll only be freezing for a few minutes, and then it’ll be cool. Same thing if you just sit down in front of Scrivener (or whatever you’re writing with on this given day) and just start writing. The page will only stay blank for as long as you let it, and I swear, if you let it stay blank much longer, Imma sock you in the jaw. Not really, but, you know. No candy for you, or whatever.
Remember that the beginning is always the hardest. Not the ‘coming up with a super cool idea and thinking about the characters and the world building and the plot and that one really awesome idea you have for a scene later on’ beginning. That’s not actually the beginning… that’s the pre-beginning. Is there a word for that? No, probably not, because it makes no sense. But the real beginning—that first chapter—will be painful. And you don’t always realize it in the moment, but it’s a delicious pain. The good kind of push that you need.
And let’s face it—you’re a bit of a masochist or you wouldn’t be writing to begin with.
I’ll leave you with this, February-Erica: I don’t care how many books you’ve got out. I don’t care how many good or bad reviews you’ve received. What you’ve done in the past is none of my concern because we’re working on the future now, and a writer is only as good as their next book. Go get writing yours.
Erica Crouch is a young adult and new adult author from Baltimore, Maryland. She has a strange blended aesthetic of cute and spooky, and her books reflect her ever changing mood. (You may find romance, you may find gore—sometimes both in the same book, but probably not at the same time. Probably.)
Erica is the co-founder of Patchwork Press, an author-powered publisher of middle grade, young adult, and new adult titles. She is the head of editorial services and design, with nearly fifty projects to her name.