It has been 28 days since I started Walking the Walk and I have written a total of 19,321 words. That is an average of 690 words a day. But the best part is that I completed my book!!! When I typed that last period on Monday I felt such an overwhelming sense of joy. It meant so much to me that I was able to complete a story that began last March and has been so hard to commit to finishing it. But I stuck with it for so many reasons and exercised my creativity to keep me going (Hint: I found success when I was faced with public humiliation).
Making myself write every day was my biggest obstacle in writing my first novel. With two children six and under (with one being home schooled three days a week) and the chaos that comes with daily life, I felt that it was impossible to make the time to bang out words that weren’t coming as quickly as I would have liked. Inspiration wasn’t offering itself up freely and it was hard to stay motivated. I tried leaving a notebook on my nightstand along with a pen that was always within reach. I tried not stressing about it. I would sit down and write one day, only to find other pressing matters take priority. But what finally brought me success was when I finally told myself, “You can do this. It won’t be easy, the story won’t be good, but just finish it.” For somebody who struggles with self esteem issues on a daily basis, this was HUGE. I kept waiting to hear others tell me, “You got this Stephanie. You will be a great writer, I just know it.” When that didn’t happen, it was just me in the room that is my mind. Everybody wants support in everything they do. But I am a late bloomer. So it took me a while to realize that if I didn’t believe that I could do it, it didn’t matter what others said. And that is when I publicly announced at the beginning of January that I was going to write 5000 words a week, showing that I was 100% committed to giving my story an ending. The fear of giving myself a goal and failing to achieve it made me sit my butt down each morning and type out those words. I can’t even begin to put a number on how many times I would stop mid sentence and tell myself, “This sucks. Erase and start over.” My inner bully has been a strong voice in my head for the majority of my life. But the new sheriff in town is my inner cheerleader and you don’t want to mess with this bitch. She would yell right back, “Shut the hell up. She can do this and she is going to keep at it.” And that would get my fingers moving.
Now that I have finished my story (I have two different titles for it right now and I don’t love either), what’s next? I am actually giddy with my to do list. My first order of business is to forget about my book until March. All the reading and research I have done say to leave your story alone for at least six weeks before you go back and start revisions. You go back to it with refreshed eyes and an open mind. Maybe all the things I hate I will love (or maybe just like). Maybe that character I love needs to die a slow and painful death. Either way, I am going to focus on other things to forward my career as a writer. That includes starting a children’s series I have been pondering since last summer. My kids give me the best ideas for stories every day and the one I want to focus on is dying to be put on paper. I will be entering a Writer’s Digest contest, because why not? And lastly I will be reading a stack of books that will only improve my skills. Some of the titles are: You’ve Got A Book in You, Writer’s Little Helper, Beginning Writer’s Answer Book, and The Craft and Business of Writing. And a book that I suspect will become my writing bible is Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art (An early Valentine’s Day present from my hubby). I will also continue to do my favorite thing which is read, read, and read fiction.
I mentioned that I kept waiting for people to tell me I could do this. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t supported by those around me in other ways. My awesome husband would listen to me go on and on (whether he wanted to or not) about a part of the plot I was struggling with or happy with on any given day. He read portions of the story and gave me feedback. There is Chris, a good friend of mine and my husband’s. He is a fellow writer and is always sending me articles on how to self publish or writers who have found success in unconventional ways. There is Chris’s wife Davida, who will send me a message every once in a while, just asking how the book is coming. Another friend who does this is Ananda. There are so many people in my life that I love and am so grateful for but these people took the time to tell me with their actions, “I know this is important to you and I want you to know that I see that and support you.” It may seem insignificant, but it is everything to me. Thank you.
I am at a point in my journey where I feel good. I know I am headed in the right direction because I am filled with happiness. I don’t know if I will ever be published or make money as a writer. But I am not worried about that. I know that I am doing everything I can to become successful and that is what matters most. Many books never see the inside of an Amazon warehouse, let alone a bookstore. I hope to be on the shelf of my local library one day and I am okay with how long the path will be.