Wicked people never have time for writing. There are so many worlds and characters waiting to be born, but through lack of motivation or lack of inspiration, they wither and die unborn in pools of dark despair. The writer feels it too, the black and poisonous knowledge that he should be producing something, anything, instead of watching television or web surfing.
The habits we should be building, write something every single day, don’t sit and wait for motivation. Grab a club and go drag your story home.
The seeping poison is can’t or won’t. Too tired, too uninspired, I’ll write it later, I’ll write it tomorrow. I hate deadlines, just give me a week and I can crank out something. I don’t like giving away my opening hook, that first sentence is important. What a silly idea, I’ll wait for a better one. I’ve written something just like this before.
Worse yet are the stories bravely begun and then abandoned. What’s next? This is stalling out. Oh, this is terrible. I just need a character. What’s the plot, where is this going?
I ran into an entire website of demotivation, once upon a time. M.F.A.’s and poets; my work was never, ever good enough. Look at all of those grammar and punctuation errors, oh my. Your metaphors are not strong enough, your similes don’t sing. Why do the same people win this competition every week? Your let the judges enter your own competition? Something smells fishy.
Now they want to sell me a membership. Purely for my benefit, of course, there are several levels of helpful advice. I see the direct correlation to the most frequent winners. This “competition” is, blatantly, For Sale.
I went searching for less mercenary setups. There are sites with rotating judges, there are sites dominated by a single clannish writing group, there are “Everyone’s a Winner” sites, too.
Competition does help me improve, even on the sites where it doesn’t feel entirely honest. Those clannish writing groups tend to vote for each other, for instance. Comments from more “social” writing sites help me improve, too, particularly from writers whose work I respect.
I keep a working list of fiction/writing sites that I like for various reasons. I don’t always visit all of them each week. I don’t always contribute stories, nor do I write every day (as I should). Sometimes, the toxic inspiration despair or simple exhaustion after a full time job still wins.
Sometimes, wicked television and evil internet still defeat your white knight, and often without a struggle.
But the sites that Did Things Right keep disappearing, and I feel guilty for that; like one more story might have saved them.
For Alissa Leonard and Finish That Thought. I’ll miss you both.