I’m currently working on something new and prepping for the release of The After Girls, and I’m having to get back into the flow of writing new material (not revising or editing or proofing) regularly. That means I need to be positive enough to make myself pull out the computer after work or get up early enough to pull it out before.
I need to remind myself why I love writing.
Everyone likes to talk about tortured artists, writing frustration, writer’s block, etc. I don’t really believe in writer’s block, but I’ll tackle that in another post. People like to say all artists are alcoholics and really miserable, and yes, some of the geniuses probably were/are. But at the end of the day, no one is forcing anyone to write. They do it because they want to. So allow me to be a bit of a cheerleader for writing, since the whole process gets a lot of flak … here are my top 5 reasons.
1. You get to make up whatever you want.
Seriously. Unlike non-fic authors and journalists and even college students, you don’t have to compile pages of research for every sentence. You get to make everything up. Yes, you will need to have some basic facts straight, depending on timeframe, location, etc., but you’re still sitting there making characters do whatever you want whenever you want.
2. You get to go back to INSERT ERA HERE and do it however you want.
One reason writing young adult is so fun is because you can constantly redo all your awkward teen/high school years but make them however you want. If you want to be the popular girl, you can do it. If you want to fall in love at 15, you can. If you want to apply the music taste you acquired from years of going to hipstery shows in Brooklyn to a kick-ass fiddle-playing 17-year-old (that would be Sydney in The After Girls), you can. If you want to break the rules, cheat on your test, scream at your best friend, do a million things you shouldn’t or wouldn’t have done, you can.
3. Your characters will eventually start to make their own decisions.
I remember when I was working on my first longer project, and the main character was at a family gathering and just up and decided to join in a poker game with her uncle. I know it doesn’t sound all that life-altering, but I had the scene all planned out and outlined, and I was going in a different direction, and then this character wanted to play poker, and all of the sudden, everyone in the scene was doing it. Cool feeling.
4. You can go anywhere.
You can travel. You can live in a ridiculous mansion. You can explore a creepy house in the woods without actually getting freaked out. You can go to your hometown or the most exclusive restaurant in New York City. You can make a new world. You can control dreams. You can build the most beautiful house and burn it down. You can live in a permanent summer (all my stories seem to take place then).
5. You learn a lot about yourself.
Writing about what’s hurt you isn’t just part of the writing process, it is the writing process. Whether it’s friendships or family or relationships or self-esteem, I, at least, find that I tackle some of my biggest struggles through my writing. It’s tough, but it’s also cathartic, which is awesome, but the coolest part is that it can give you a new, more understanding, perspective on the past, as well as the people in your life. It’s basically free therapy.