Writer

Guidelines for avoiding guidelines.

I. Hate. Guidelines.

I hate checklists. I hate to-do lists. I hate advice on how to accomplish a task.

Okay, kind of.

I think the amount of knowledge on the Internet right now is terrifying.

And a HUGE majority of this knowledge is “how-to.”

How to have the perfect wedding, how to write a novel, how to fall asleep easily at night, how to lose 50 pounds in 10 days with minimal effort. Those are just a few.

As helpful as those things sound, the only how-tos I want are recipes. (Yum. Food.)

Maybe it’s just me, but the lists of perfection intimidate me like you wouldn’t believe. It’s like if I don’t do everything in a formulaic, thought-out manner, I’m going to fail.

But that’s ridiculous.

Example:

I started reading this book or something about how to write a novel in 90 days. I thought it might help.

It didn’t. Because I started freaking out. I felt immense pressure from the inanimate object. It just sat there. Taunting me. Write, Summer. Write a golden novel today. Finish that chapter, Summer. Keep going. Don’t stop.

And what I got out of it was crap.

Yes, crap.

My writing sucked. My characters sucked. My locations sucked. It was just a massive suck fest.

You can’t force something amazing to happen and you can’t give yourself a time constraint if you want to do something well. I understand deadlines are a thing, but I feel like trying to schedule creativity is just hindering your mind from actually being creative.

Once I decided to ignore the book telling me I only had 90 days to write a novel, I wrote eight chapters of PURE AWESOME within two months. I’m 1/4 of the way through my word count goal. Even though it took two months, I’m really proud of what I’ve done so far. I’ll work on it as long as I have to in order to make it perfect.

But not perfect according to anyone else’s guidelines. Perfect according to my own.

I don’t know what you might be trying to plan, but all those helpful lists you keep repinning on Pinterest may not be as helpful as you may think.

In the end, you’ll be happiest following your own heart and your own brain. Because, believe it or not, you know you better than the strangers on the Internet. No matter how unbelievably intelligent and crafty they may seem. (Seriously, how do these DIYers do it?)

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