Today's Guest Buccaneer is Spring Bootcamper and YA Author TE Carter, whose debut novel I STOP SOMEWHERE is forthcoming from Feiwel & Friends in Winter 2018.
BALANCE: Tomorrow is a Different Day
Balance and self-care are hard for a writer to accept, but they're so critical. We all need motivation and challenges, but we also need to avoid kicking ourselves when we fail.
For the past month, I've been enrolled in the YA Buccaneers Spring Writing Bootcamp. I started strong, writing about 1,000 words a day for the first week. And then... I wrote another 1,500 words since.
Starting at my calendar and all the blank days feels like failure, so believe me when I say I know it feels like a bad month or a bad week or a bad year means you can't really be a writer. That's nonsense thinking, though, and it's important to remember that no great novel was written in a month. Even if the story was put down in a month, revisions and edits take time.
Time is your friend. t doesn't always seem that way and if you can power through and keep writing, awesome! But if you can't, that's okay. Each day is new.
Since I started the YA Buccaneers Spring Writing Bootcamp, I ended up in the midst of several crises at my day job. That took up a ton of my time and by the time the workday ended, I was exhausted. I would open the Word doc and just stare at it. I felt like a failure and I convinced myself I wouldn't write another book. EVER.
The truth is, though, any book I would write when I felt that exhausted wouldn't have been a book worth reading anyway. Every writer is different, but you have to allow yourself these moments of doubt and exhaustion. You need to balance your passion for it with the fact that you're human. If you write exhausted, your words are exhausted and your story feels tired. That's not your best work.
Your mind and your creative well are, like your body, in need of breaks. They're also in need of some tough love at times. However, not feeling like going to the gym because you're lazy isn't the same as forcing yourself to go and getting hurt or sick from pushing too hard. Your mind and creativity need the same respect.
Knowing when to push is hard, because it's easy to make excuses. At the same time, if you are trying day after day and it's not happening, getting angry at yourself and feeling bad about it is only going to delay the re-invigoration that will come. IT WILL COME, I promise.
When I finally got my work stuff managed, I sat down again and had a great story idea. I was excited about it and ready to get it all down. Then my 2017 debut got bumped to 2018, which made me a little depressed. I told myself too bad and kept writing. Then my cat got severely ill and was admitted to the veterinary ICU.
Today, I am writing this with still only about 1,600 words of the new book written. I'm writing it while my still very sick kitty is watching me with a feeding tube in his neck. I'm writing it feeling awful because our hot water heater stopped working overnight and I haven't showered and I'm covered in blended cat food after my cat resisted his afternoon feeding.
But you know something? Tomorrow is a different day. Maybe tomorrow my cat will eat. Maybe the hot water heater will work. Maybe I will have gotten more than two hours of sleep. And maybe I will write ten words or 1,000.
And if I don't, I know it will happen eventually. It will happen for you, too. We are the only people who can tell our stories. We will tell them when we're ready. It's not a race. Remember that you're a real writer and your story is important, whether it takes you two months or twenty years to tell it. When you're ready, we're looking forward to reading it.
About the Author:
TE Carter writes contemporary dark fiction and obsesses over Game of Thrones. She lives in New England. Her debut novel, I STOP SOMEWHERE, will be released from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan in Winter 2018. You can find her online at http://tecarter.com or on Twitter at @tecarter7.