Nine Years of Procrastination: Advice I Would Tell New Writers

I started writing in 2012, back when I was a senior in high school, during a chilly Massachusetts winter. My tools back then were the generic iPad notes app and an iPad. In no particular order, here is what I would tell my 17 (or 18?) year old self with nine years of amateur, wannabe experience.

Pick your program wisely.

Back then, I fell in love with Evernote on the iPad. I still use and love Evernote to this day…on my PC. (Never try to write lengthy writing on a tablet or a phone… much less efficient typing.) But I openly defied Evernote’s base restriction. It’s a NOTE app. Designed for something like 5k words per note. I still use Evernote because it’s fast and easy to switch between multiple notes (like docs). Evernote does have serious slowdown though when I am editing or typing my story on it though, so I probably would have been better picking Word or Scrivener (not free) in the long run, from a performance standpoint.

Why do I like Evernote? Well, it’s free. Also at this point, it’s like a database of my fiction notes and info. The navigation is fast and pretty easy compared to having 10 Word docs open, in my opinion.

You’re gonna make mistakes, and you will learn from old stories you wrote.

Splattering Yet Endearing is actually the 9th story I’ve ever written. Internally I simply refer to the story as 9. The other 8 stories I wrote during college look like TRASH and I barely understand them. 9 is hundreds of pages long, and I’ve actually had to make like 3 major revisions to the entire doc for things like the usage of but, tense consistency, general editing to improve quality, etc. Sigh. Point is, if you’re gonna get into this thing, don’t be surprised at all if you have to overhaul ALLLLLL the stuff you just spent hours and hours working on. So I guess the real message is writing is time intensive, and you will screw up. Hard.

You can’t make everyone happy.

There is merit to having beta readers (think focus group or surveys). But readers can be so picky or have such varying tastes that if you spend your time redoing writing to please all readers and all feedback out there…. you’ll never be able to finish writing. So at some point, gotta tune out the noise and just finish writing the story. I originally started writing because writing is freedom (creatively). Being at the whim of the audience can be a drag at a certain point.

Grammar rules are tedious as hell, but you need an acceptable skill level in grammar to write.

I kind of enjoy reading about the grammar rules I screw up half the time now. But seriously, there are so many rules in English grammar it can get infuriating. Having to go back and check commas or verify that 100 sentences is a serious drag. (Thank GOD for Control+F(ind).)

You need to share your stuff.

With the sheer amount of hours that goes into writing (100-1000+), it seems like a waste if literally no one else reads it. Yeah you’re shy about it and yeah you’ll need thick skin for whatever comments you get back, but ultimately isn’t the point of writing to share a story…with others?

Writing is a struggle. Only do it if you truly or deeply care about it.

Sometimes while I’m writing, it feels like actual work. Work in a taxing, stressful, deteriorating way. Not just to myself but anyone reading this, if you didn’t already get it, writing is long, hard work that you’ll make a minimum wage back in per hour IF YOU’RE LUCKY. Only choose to do it if you are serious. I still love my story, so I can overlook the tedious or time consuming tasks I’ve had to do for my writing.

Write today, not tomorrow.

While I grew a lot in college, I wasted a lot of time back then from a writing standpoint. My writing productivity dropped to nearly zero from 2012 to 2020 and that is something I regret. I mean, maybe my quality of writing is better because I am older and more mature now, but I really know that I should have finished my story a long time ago. Procrastination and constant delays are my biggest and deepest regrets of writing to date. Procrastination is the enemy of progress and success. I would have gone back to my college freshman self and screamed at him to find the hour or two hours a day to write everyday…OK maybe one hour a day.

I seriously wish I had grasped the time back then to finish my story…faster. Maybe the quality would have been lower…but I think every writer’s greatest fear is an unfinished story. I just hate my prior self for neglecting writing so much. Sounds a little harsh, but it’s the truth.

If I think of other advice, I’ll make a new post.

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