“Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” Michael Jordan
In a lot of ways, being a writer sucks. Very few of us come from idyllic, Norman Rockwell backgrounds. Our pasts tend to take more inspiration from Jackson Pollock. Our minds and souls are scattered, prone to euphoric highs and debilitating depressions. Our craft, our muse, is like an old friend, a friend whose love language is often ridicule and abuse. At times, we envy engineers and accounts, working with static numbers and rigid structures, ‘oh to work with objects that don’t have emotional strings hanging from them.’
We sit down and write, day after day, month after month, decade after decade, and there is never any guarantee that anyone will ever read our work, let alone whether it will ever sell. It’s like we’ve volunteered for some kind of demented social experiment. How much self-inflicted pain and agony can a person endure before they finally throw in the towel and give up on their dreams? (Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, and maybe as I write this I’m in a dryer spell in my writing).
Regardless of where your psyche sits on the emotional Richter scale, times come in any writer’s life where they wonder, ‘is this really going anywhere?’ We’re so deep into the woods that all we see are the shadows and the broken limbs, and it’s easy to lose the sight of the path. Here, more than anywhere else, having some process or method to follow is crucial. Thus far, I’ve advocated for a fairly rigid structure for designing a story. By no means do I believe this is the perfect, one size fits all approach to writing, but it’s a method that has worked for many writers before our time. So regardless if you decide to bogart this method or find some other, the beauty of working off something outside of yourself is when you doubt your own abilities, you can still move forward trusting in someone else’s road map. In my first attempts at writing, my own processes left my writing fractured, and the moments of clarity into the flaws of my story left me wrecked and in need of a stiff drink.
Using a plan laid out by others who came before affords us something unique. They have a track record, footprints on a path to becoming a writer. Trusting in their process and knowing they reached some level of success gives us confidence in our own journey. It helps us continue to write on, despite our muse’s more fickle, emotional outbursts.