Your Greatest Teacher is You

6:00 AM

I was squished in the back of a seven passenger minivan with my laptop on my legs at 6:45 in the morning, on the way home from our eventful youth trip to Washington DC. Normally I don't function very well at such an early hour, but this morning was different. While everyone else was curling up to sleep for the long drive ahead of us, I remained upright and wide-eyed. My fingers flew across the keyboard, and something in my brain shifted.

Suddenly, without warning, I could edit. 

I've been struggling with editing The Dream Walkers all year. From January to now, I've been a bit unsure of how to tackle edits. I've asked myself stupid, panicked questions in moments of crisis like, "How do you even edit?" and "What is this book even supposed to look like?"

But on this car ride, after this week of broken down buses and stomach bugs and skewed plans, somehow it was after all this that I sat down and-squished legs and all-began to edit like I have never edited before.

Not to say I did it perfectly. Not to say my words were flawless, and that my book is now a perfect masterpiece.

What I'm saying is that something in my mind shifted. I had little to no warning. Only months of endless frustration and irritation. Months of feeling like I was getting nowhere, and making next to no progress in my writing.

Do you want to know a secret?

Even though I wasn't editing, even though I've only edited 20k since January, I wasn't making no progress. That sounds crazy, but it's true. Progress was being made. It was just progress I couldn't see. The brain is an amazing creation, and while I couldn't see what was going on, my mind was working these past three months, trying to solve this puzzle, trying to fix this problem. While I was helpless and beginning to lose confidence and hope, my mind was determined to save the day.

I've read a lot of blog posts over the past three months. I've looked up motivational quotes on Pinterest to try to get me "into writing" again. I've written what I hoped were motivational blog posts, as much a message to myself as it was to you all. I've made to-do lists. I've sat my tushie down and forced myself to stare at my document.

But none of that seemed to work. I didn't make much progress at all, and it was agonizing.

Yet, through all of that, I was learning. Because the best teacher in the world is not your favorite blog. It's not the best selling craft book you just finished reading that changed your life, and it's not your role model's "for writers" page on their website.

No. The best teacher is you. I know that may be hard to believe, but it's true. There are some lessons we must learn, and we are the only ones who can teach them. And do you know why?

Because people are unique. Every person on this planet is different than the other. None of us are the same, and so it only makes sense that we don't all learn the same either. But our brains know how to teach us lessons. They study the world around us, and they think about things even when we're not aware. They do a lot of work for us, helping us come to a better understanding of the world and ourselves.

My brain has finally figured out how I, personally, need to go about editing my book. Not only that, but it's given me the right mindset to do that. Again, I'm not saying I've got everything figured out and that my words are now sparkling and perfect.

I'm saying that I know where to start, and I know how to make progress on my story. I know where I'm going with it, and I know (at least, I think I know) how to get there. I'll still have rough days of staring at the screen of endless black text, but they're no longer the normal. And that's what I want to share with you. It's not just me. We're all teaching ourselves lessons every day, and a lot of those lessons are being learned unconsciously. As crazy as it sounds, you are working out puzzles 24/7. And soon, something is going to click.

If you've been stuck, keep pushing. If you stop trying, you'll never know if you've figured out the answer to your problems. I wouldn't have known if I hadn't pulled out my laptop and started trying to edit again.

Be persistent in your writing journey, and be patient. You learn the most about writing by actually writing. You learn the most about editing by actually editing. The key to writing clicked in my mind about three years after I started writing. The key to editing has taken significantly longer, but I've now reached a point where I think I'll be able to make headway.

Don't give up. Keep editing, and soon your brain will fix the problem, and you'll start making progress again. Just keep pressing on! You've got this.

Have you been in a rut this year, or has your book been going along smoothly? Are you writing or editing? What stage of the process are you in with your WIP, and what have you been learning from it recently? 


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  1. Beautiful post, Hannah! It's strange how it can be so hard to see our own improvement at times, even though it's really there. I can definitely relate to all of this <3

    1. I know! And even stranger when we're improving through seemingly unproductive writing sessions. There are always lessons to be learned!

  2. Yay, I'm so happy editing DW is clicking into place! *massive hugs* I'm still waiting for the final piece for GR to click, and I think writing the first draft of its sequel is going to help with that, so I can figure out what stepping stones I need to write into the first book. :) Best wishes with editing! <3

    1. AHHH YAY!!! Might I know what this final piece is? *eager grin* Best wishes to you as well!

  3. Amazing post, Hannah. I'm in the editing stages with the goal to self-publish this year in August! I'm almost done with where I can take the book and almost to the stage where I need to hand it off to an editor, which is exciting and scary all at once. XD

    This post has got be thinking about my process and what I do for writing. Very inspiring. <3

    Ivie Writes
    Ivie Brooks, Author

    1. That's so exciting, Ivie! I admire your devotion and courage. Who is your editor? That is such an amazing and inspiring time for you! <3

  4. 'If you've been stuck, keep pushing. If you stop trying, you'll never know if you've figured out the answer to your problems.' << ugh ouch I really needed this. I've been struggling with feeling like I'm making any progress in re-outlining/rewriting my nano novel. so this really helped tons...thx for this, girl <33

    1. Aw, I'm so glad! <3 I meant every word. Your work is making a difference, even if you can't see it yet!

  5. I'm really big on trying to learn from my mistakes, so this post resonated with me so much. Great job! <33

    1. Mistakes are quite good at teaching :) It's so good and mature to step back and learn for them instead of moping. You go girl! <3

  6. Ohhh I so so love this post, Hannah! And AGREED. I think sometimes it's hard for us writers to realise not all of the "work" happens with words-in-front-of-words-on-the-laptop-screen. So much happens in our heads?! Like I'll feel unproductive for months because I haven't written anything, BUT I've been mentally plotting new books, reworking old plot problems, and just letting things mature (or fester?!? lol lol) mentally until I'm actually ready to write!! So much of our work is invisible buuuut so important.

    I'm rEALLY glad you've got a good handle on how to edit your book now!! :D Also I love how you started this post ajfdsklad you're an amazing blogger so I can only imagine your book-words must be amazing too. 😍

  7. You are your own teacher. Great post!

  8. As we grow older, we acquire more experiences and we add to our knowledge. Thanks for sharing.


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