A Lesson in Slowing Down

While the past month and a half could be described as stagnant, stressful, and overall lack-luster, one singular fact stands out among the rest: I learned A LOT.

I have a bad habit. I jump from hobby to hobby, favorite game to favorite game, and any show not consumable within a day or two (or at most, a week) is a show I tend to shy away from. This is in part one of my many reasons I love anime, but that’s beside the point. The important part is this; I’m impatient. I like doing things. New things, old things, things in general. But I’ll drop that thing as soon as a brighter, newer, more exciting thing struts along in a shiny coat and irresistible smile. While my zeal for the new and mysterious does not apply to people, per-say, it does translate to projects and hobbies.

This bad habit has transcribed itself into my fiction writing in a rather similar, but somewhat new, fashion. First and foremost would be this blog. I’m terrible at blogging, and I’ve never been able to keep a journal either. Another example would be updating this site with new stories, and new poems. While poetry is something that comes and goes in a more organic manner, for me at least, it’s still something I often set aside. Lastly is that my habit went through something like a mutation over the past year – at least when it came to writing my novel.

You see, writing a novel is something I’ve tried to do for years, but have only recently achieved. While it isn’t published, my fantasy novel is all but complete. I wrote the whole thing within about a two or three-month span, and edited the entire piece within a little more than a month. It took hold of me like a mad fever, and by the time December rolled around, I was absolutely, indiscriminately, wholeheartedly passionate about editing the whole 60,000+ monster again, AND self-publishing it by January.

It is now nearly February, and I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that it’s not happening that soon. Maybe by May. Maybe.

The problem with my mindset went beyond biting more than I could obviously chew. It was rooted in my desire to keep writing. I was eager to move on to the sequel, and then the next one, and the next. I even had two other ideas for novels. Stories I’d been trying to develop the premise of for over a year and a half finally started to come together in my head, and I wanted desperately to write them. Sure, that’s a good thing, being able to generate more ideas for books down the line. But that was just it, they needed to be books I wrote down the line. Not in the middle of the most crucial process of publishing my first novel. I needed to put all the energy I could into making sure the first book was as good as it could possibly be.

Now sure, my first book will almost certainly not be my best, but I was missing a crucial point in my ambition. I needed to put all the work I could into my first book. I needed to make sure it was ready, that the plot made sense, the characters were vivid, and that I wasn’t sacrificing elements of the book, just for the sake of getting it done faster so I could move on.

I was so eager to move on, to find that next new thing, that I nearly burned myself to the point that I barely wanted to write anymore. Midway through December, I found myself forgetting all of that passion, all of that excitement that I found in writing, and I began to consider if writing was really what I wanted. That was a load of bull. I knew I wanted to write. I wanted to create stories, whole worlds, and amazing characters. The reason I found myself so doubtful was because I was trying too hard, I was pushing myself beyond simple hard-work, into the territory of obsession and naivety.

I learned that what matters is I give my best in writing my novel. Even if it takes another six months, it’ll be worth it. If I’m going to write a novel, it needs to be as good as I can make it. Self-publishing it as soon as I think it’s ready will do nothing but hurt its chances. Taking my time, spending the energy to polish, all of it will only help me. Sure, there’ll be a time when I need to step back and call it good, but I need to make sure that when that time comes I don’t regret it.

Questions? Comments? Let me know what you think in the comments below. Like what you read? Follow this website, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

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