Focus, perseverance and perfectionism

In the lead up to my long anticipated Arvon course I’ve experienced something of a writing paralysis. I’ve tinkered with a short story and sent it to a fellow blogger/twitterer for a bit of reciprocal criticising and I’ve written a few blogs, but I just haven’t been able to look at my novel.

I think part of the reason is, I’m hoping being locked away in the middle of nowhere in the Scottish highlands, with nine other aspiring authors and two published/acclaimed authors, is going to provide me with such a radically different view on my novel it’s hardly worth me doing anything until then. Another part of my mind screams; every day is precious, every writing minute counts. And it does, but here I am nonetheless.

Focus and perseverance are incredibly important traits in a writer. I imagine there are hundreds of manuscripts out there that started very well but remain unfinished. Perhaps some of them deserve to stay there, but a great many simply faltered because their author lacked these two traits, or lost them for a bit. I can bit a half-arsed about some things; sewing, cooking and decorating to name just a few, but if I really love something I will stick at it no matter what. There is, inside me, a quiet confidence that ‘I will get this bloody novel written and it will be good’. I won’t just finish it and think ‘thank god’. I will make it the best it can be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a perfectionist. I won’t pore over my novel endlessly once it’s done, but I will hold back on showing it to an agent, publisher or the general public until it is ready. I know I’ve already been writing my novel for a number of years and some people have said to me ‘just send off the first chapter to a few agents, see what they think’.  Even before I started looking into this part of the process, this seemed like a bad idea.  I am aware, despite the number of years I’ve been writing, I still have a long way to go before I can produce a novel I would be excited by if I were the reader. I look back at my first drafts and they were awful. I have improved so much since then and I know I will improve further. The fact it’s a slow process is incredibly frustrating for me (and probably for those around me) but shoving something half-baked under people’s noses then expecting to get a following, an avid audience eagerly awaiting my next masterpiece, is folly.

I get a bit antsy when I’m not writing, luckily I can present a fairly serene outward impression, but inside I’m twitching. Perhaps it’s because of this, I know, although I’ve taken a pause, I will be back and I will be badder than before (by which of course I mean gooder…better).

Someone once said to me, (after I’d admitted to being a bit of a bodger at particular tasks), that people are either conscientious in all things or the opposite. Do you think this is true? I really hope it isn’t, I think it’s more to do with how you prioritise your life.

I don’t know if you write every day no matter what, or have periods when you’ve written nothing – either because of commitments or writers block – how do you cope? Do you sometimes feel under pressure from those around you to ‘just get it finished’?

Thanks for reading this blog, feel free to comment 🙂

3 thoughts on “Focus, perseverance and perfectionism

  1. jakiedwards says:

    I think I’m going to demand a DNA test, you and I have to be related in some way.
    I AM exactly the same. Writing is THE most important thing in my life (sorry kids and soon to be spouse). Yet there are days when I sit in front of the computer twiddling with Mahjong or flicking through a meaningless eBay search completely and utterly inable to write more than a shopping list.
    My brain tells me that if it is important to you then you will do it, but my browsing history suggests otherwise. Don’t understand. I don’t like it either.
    Maybe we are so deep with such hidden meaning that this thing is so very important we daren’t complete it for fear of having nothing left to achieve (again sorry kids and soon to be spouse). Or maybe we have bad days when we need a goblin to poke us with a stick until we have complied with a quota of words…

  2. […] Focus, perseverance and perfectionism ( Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInStumbleUponTumblrPinterestRedditEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Uncategorized, Writing and tagged Alan Warner, Arvon, Arvon Foundation, author, Fiction writing, Morvern Caller, novel, Others, Sopranos, Sue Peebles, The death of Lomond Friel, Tutor.Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment […]

  3. […] Focus, perseverance and perfectionism ( Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInStumbleUponTumblrPinterestRedditEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Uncategorized, Writing and tagged Arts, Arvon, Arvon Foundation, Fantasy, Reading, Writer, Writers Resources, writing.Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment […]

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