Quit While You’re Ahead

I got an interesting e-mail from my (amazingly supportive) dad today.

Subj: I was looking

Body: for a quotation about the process and progress of writing things and stumbled upon some interesting advice. When one takes a break it should be while one is still in the mood to write.

Makes sense to me – leaving on a high note.

I’d never thought of it that way. But, honestly, it makes sense to me, too. And I think it may be the key to me finally writing consistently, the way I want to.

I love stories. I love creating. I love imagining. I love writingBut sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s work. Most of those times, it’s because I let my Inner Editor get it in the way. She has a death grip on my creative process. While I can stifle her for a little while each day, eventually she rears her ugly head and tears my work to shreds. Then, I don’t think what I’m writing is good enough, or that I can’t pull it off, or [fill in paralyzing insecurity here].  Then I can’t get the words to flow anymore. Or I can, but I find myself hating them. My Muse, hurt by my Inner Editor’s harsh criticisms, runs off to lock herself in some dark and hidden corner of my mind, taking all her words and wonder with her. And then I get frustrated. And then I quit for the day, thinking I’ll start fresh with my Muse tomorrow. When I come knocking the next day (if I do–often fear of my Inner Editor keeps me from even trying), I have to practically drag my Muse out by the hair to come play. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Now, instead, I’m going to start quitting while I’m ahead–before my Inner Editor can jump in for the day, and I get frustrated.

I’ve got a tendency to want to get things right the first time, and get them done right away. Writing isn’t like that, but my Inner Editor doesn’t understand that yet. She can learn, but I have to stop expecting that that’s going to happen right away, too. So I’m going to start small, and keep it small for a while–small enough that I know my Inner Editor won’t have time to break free (she’ll get her time later, during revisions):

Half an hour of writing a day, and then stop. Even if I’m still itching to write. Especially if I’m still itching to write. Because then the next day, instead of hiding from me, my Muse will be jumping up and down to greet me, excited to play, impatient to pick up where we left off. And I’ll be there to greet her with a smile, every single day.