For those of you who do not know me, allow me to introduce myself. I’m a 25 year-old girl, born in Ukraine, raised in Lebanon and currently live in the United States. It’s amazing how I ended up here, incredulous even. A major event pushed me to go, but a series of minor, seemingly inconsequential incidents made it all possible. I couldn’t be more proud of where I am today. After all, since the age of seven, it has been my dream to come to the States and become a writer. I’m living my lifelong dream, or getting there. But things were not easy for me even after I got here.
I came to the US with very little savings, I didn’t know anybody, and had no paying job. I faced challenged with my paperwork, I was homesick, I had no friends, and above all else, I was living in a very tight apartment in a bad neighborhood. But in spite of all that, I was able to write. I wrote a novel start to finish (amongst other things). And here’s how I did it.
1. Let My Decision Ignite Me
Before I moved to the US, I had a nice, private space set up for writing: a wooden desk facing the window, a comfortable chair, organized drawers and the company of furry, purring creatures. When I moved here, it was nothing like that. The room was messy, I had no privacy, the foldable table hurt my knees so I had to get rid of it, the chair hurt my behind so I had to resort to sitting on the bed, and I couldn’t even open the windows for fear that somebody would break into the apartment if they saw a laptop.
They say that every success begins with a decision to try. This is something I always keep in mind whenever I face a new challenge or embark on a new journey. Needless to say, I was living outside my comfort zone. But I knew that if I didn’t write, if I didn’t at least try, then I would have come all the way across the world for nothing. So the decision was made.
2. I Made a Plan to Guide Me
To be honest, I’m not much of a planner. I never make detailed plans, merely guidelines, and my plans change all the time. So in this case, I also found a compromise between strictness and complete chaos. I made a schedule. I allotted time for writing, gym, food, breaks and set a time to stop writing and just enjoy the rest of my day. There was a daily word-count goal and I reached it most of the time. But I will talk about the steps I took to finishing a novel in one month in a later post.
3. I Let My Passion Drive Me
A decision and a plan are nothing without action. And taking action is demanding, especially when you have to do it on daily or weekly basis. No matter how much you try to change the way you write, the place you write, and the things you’re writing about, there will be a time when you’ll feel stuck in the routine. And nothing gets you out of the routine like the passion to do whatever it is you’re doing.
Fortunately for me, the book I was working on was very dear to my heart—and still is. It was the first thing I thought about when I opened my eyes and the last thing on my mind before I went to bed. So when I started writing early in the morning, I found it difficult to stop. Even when I was exhausted, even when I was stymied, the story was always on my mind. If not writing, I was taking notes, thinking up characters—and characters’ demises. My passion for my book overshadowed all the distress I was going through. And before I knew it, the book was done.
4. I Let My Discomfort Fuel Me
The good thing about discomfort is that it makes us appreciate the things we take for granted. I didn’t have much, but I had more at one point in my life and I thought that I’d never lose it. Now, I know better than to take anything for granted, even the light of day or the freshness of air; it could all be gone in any second. Things can change but then again can we.
Instead of reminiscing over my lovely desk and furry buddies, I started looking ahead to how I wanted my life to be. My goal was to get out of that situation, to start climbing back up after a hard fall. I was not going to let my circumstances decide my output. Instead, I was going to let my output change my circumstances.
5. I Stayed Focused on the Destination
Let’s compare the road to success to the actual road. You can walk the road, crawl, hop on one leg, jog, run, zigzag or even slide sideways, but no matter what you will be doing two things: moving your legs and using your head. And eventually you will realize that all those fancy methods are a waste of time.
Driven by passion and fueled by ordeals, all was left for me was to do the legwork and finish the book. So I sat in a little corner, on an uncomfortable chair, amongst the chaos, in the heat, surrounded by my notebooks and thoughts and I wrote. And when I wrote, all my surroundings faded, all the ghosts of tragedy found the light, and all that was left was the sound of my fingertips dancing on the keyboard.
As you noticed, I used automotive analogies to headline the steps I took, which should tell you that I am still desperately craving a car—more about that soon. Stay tuned for my future posts, I will be talking about my writing experience during a time when I was depressed; I will also tell you how I wrote a novel in 30 days.
I hope my post helped those of you who are trying to write during a tough time. And let’s face it, does life really ever give us a break? What advice do you give fellow writers to help them find motivation?