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Inertia.

If I had to describe the biggest challenge I’m facing on the fiction writing front as of late, that is what it would be.

Complete and utter inertia.

Which is confusing, because last year I had so much momentum going during the first draft of my new novel that it practically wrote itself. I would spring out of bed at 5AM and write for a couple hours before work, then I’d race home at 5PM and do the same thing. When my manuscript was done, I revised it a little and sent it off to my editor secretly hoping that she would tell me it was brilliant and I’d be on the agent hunt in no time.

But instead, I got back pages upon pages of notes, which admittedly were filled with very valuable advice. Advice that meant I needed to rewrite most of my manuscript.

I’ve been facing this major revision for several months now, working on it here and there, but I can’t seem to find the momentum that carried me through the first draft. Five o’clock in the morning has never felt darker, colder or less conducive to creativity. And the same can be said for five o’clock at night.

What to do? Give up? Start a new project? Find a new dream? Change my name and go into hiding?

Disheartened, I turned to my husband for my advice. And in his infinite wisdom he reminded me that this is what “real” writers go through.

Huh.

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it’s a great point. It’s easy to look at all beautiful books displayed at Barnes & Noble and assume they were written effortlessly. But I know from many a published friend that this is far from true. In the literary world, no one is exempt from the rigors of revision. In fact, many successful writers credit this painful process with getting published in the first place. Dream chaser, Therese Walsh, went through 3 major revisions (and even changed genres!) during the writing of her successful debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy (Random House).

Even New York Times Bestsellers aren’t exempt. Dream chaser, Allison Winn Scotch, talks openly about the painful revision process she battled through while writing her third novel, The One That I Want (Crown).

I think I’ve been looking at the revision process all wrong. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and hopeless about the massive revision before me, I should take comfort in the fact that most writers go through the exact same thing.

And if I want to be a “real” writer one day, then I must get through it too.

 

Anyone else out there battling inertia? How are you getting through it?

As someone who gets bored easily, I can attest to how challenging it can be to stay faithful to your dreams. For me, with writing, there comes a point during each manuscript when I find myself ready to be done with it and itching to move on to the next story. Unfortunately, this usually happens right around the time when I’ve completed the first draft and the revisions (a.k.a. “the real work”) loom before me.

This is sort of where I’m at right now. I have a mountain of great feedback from my editor just waiting to be implemented, but all I can think about are the new ideas rolling around in my head. Come to think of it, this may be why I struggled with oil painting in college – I like to get to the part where I can sit back and admire the finished product; it’s the working and re-working that’s a challenge for me.

Of course, it’s in the working and re-working that real masterpieces are created.

So how do you stay faithful to your dream when your commitment is wavering? Here are some tips that are helping me:

1. Renew your vows. By revisiting your original goals they will become clearer in your mind, making them easier to focus on.

2. Make adjustments. Pursuing a dream is a process of discovery. Perhaps your original timeline was too aggressive? Maybe the end result isn’t realistic? Don’t be afraid to tweak your vision along the way.

3. Identify pitfalls and avoid them in the future. Is something in your life making it hard to honor your commitment? Is it a scheduling issue? Do you have access to the right resources? Pinpoint what’s detracting your attention and find a way around it.

4. Get back on the wagon. Just like a dieting slip-up, you have to accept your mistake and recommit yourself to your dream.

5. Reignite the spark. If you’re lacking motivation, try to remember what made your dream a dream in the first place. By rediscovering the “puppy love”, you can tap into a whole new well of inspiration to propel you forward.

Anyone else out there struggling to stay faithful to a dream? How do you stay committed?

Can you imagine going to the Olympics as a favored athlete, only to let a few mistakes in the qualifiers keep you from even competing? This is exactly what happened to Hannah Kearney – the freestyle skier who’s notorious for wearing flowers braided into her hair and helmet – four years ago at the 2006 Torino Olympics, which made her recent gold medal win in Vancouver that much sweeter.

A skier since age two – and freestyler since age 7 – Kearney’s dream-dashing disqualification at Torino left her devastated. The only good that came of it, she realized in hindsight, was her unfaltering motivation and commitment to reach her dream. Kearney took all the disappointment she felt after Torino and channeled it into her skiing, which drove her to improve her performance and even helped her overcome a torn knee ligament.

You would think that, for Kearney, heading off to the Vancouver Olympics would’ve been intimidation at its finest, but, in a recent television interview, she said that her trainer gave her a card beforehand that recounted all the hours of practice, all the moguls and all the jumps. As she prepared to compete in the Vancouver games, she knew that this time she was ready. 

In a post-victory interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kearney said of her journey, “Everything happens for a reason. If I had known I was going to win a gold medal four years ago, I wouldn’t have cried so much. . . . But that’s part of what got me here today.”

Congratulations to Hannah and all of the other amazing athletes who are making their dreams come true in Vancouver!

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