Earlier today I happened to mention to an acquaintance that I’m writing a book. He became very interested and started asking me a lot of questions about the characters and the story. After several specific questions, I started to feel uncomfortable. It felt a little too personal and I had some difficulty talking about it. I’m sure he thought I was nuts and my book doomed to be a total failure. Afterward, I wondered why I had that reaction. The book and what it is about are no secret, so why did it bother me so much to answer his questions?
It came to me tonight as I was writing. I feel protective about my work because in a sense it is my baby, my creation. The real issue, I think, is not so much that it is my baby but that it is a work in progress. The idea for the book, the characters and even the plot are still evolving. It feels strange to me to describe these things in detail when they are still changing. It also feels risky to put it out there for someone I don’t know to give feedback that I’m not quite ready to hear. In other words, I’m scared. Scared to have this amazing project ruined, scared to have my dream ruined, scared to realize that my idea, my baby, totally sucks.
And then I gave myself a kick in the pants. Get over it. So what if it sucks. No one and nothing can ruin my dream to write a book or my project to write every day. I’m doing it. I’m living it. And that’s all that matters.
I have no idea why but tonight I was wide awake and on a roll. I didn’t work quickly, but I did get a nice amount of writing done. This was just the opposite of what I experienced yesterday when I kept falling asleep while writing. Exhaustion really takes a toll on my ability to think and write something meaningful. And my productivity, too.
I have a feeling the 500 words I wrote last night are total garbage. The idea behind the scene I started is good (I think), but the rest of the writing and content is crap (I think). That’s one of the problems with falling asleep at the wheel. I don’t remember most of what I wrote. The temptation to go back to read and fix it tonight was strong. But I’m not going to do it. I’m leaving it for later.
Those 500 words of potentially crappy writing are there to stay until I finish the first draft and go back later to edit them or cut them out entirely. Most writers know the beginning of the Stephen King quote, “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings…” Because of this quote, I know how important it is to not spend time now editing and re-working the crappy writing. Because if I can’t turn it into something brilliant, I’ll have to kill it. And writing that I spent tons of precious, agonizing time and effort editing and re-writing is more of a darling little dear to me than writing completed in one shot while nodding off to sleep that I barely even remember. Those are darlings I can kill without remorse.
And this is another example of why I, with great effort, try to follow the rule to write now, edit later.
Have you ever had one of those nights when you look at the clock after what feels like minutes since the last time you looked, and you realize that almost two hours have gone by? That was me tonight.
I had a goal to go to bed at a reasonable time tonight. It was out of necessity, really. I made the goal for two reasons: 1) I went to bed waaaaayyyy too late last night; and 2) I have to get up extra early tomorrow morning. Because of this goal, I didn’t get as much writing done as I had hoped. Instead, I am making myself go to bed. As I should, since I was continually nodding off in front of my laptop over those elusive two hours.
Curfew is calling and I am going to abide by it. Time to dream about what I will write tomorrow. Good night.
I haven’t had a blog post for a few days but I have still been writing. It was a busy holiday weekend with friends and family visiting from out of town, which made it more challenging to find time to write. I’m happy to say that I did. I took a break from posting on my blog because sometimes the time I spend here interferes with the time I want to spend writing my book. So it was a welcome break from the blog.
Here I am, back again. After 78 days, I am still happily chugging along writing my novel, enjoying the story as it develops. It has been interesting to make so much progress, because I think about what I have written so far and am able to recognize how much work I still have ahead of me. Not only writing the rest of the book, but also the work that will be necessary after the first draft is done. I know it is going to require a ton of time and effort to edit, re-write and shape what I have written into the novel I have been envisioning. And yet, I am prepared for it to turn into something different too.
I find the idea of what I must do to create an end product both terrifying and exciting. I do love a challenge. However, I will readily admit that I have never before undertaken a challenge born from my own blood, tears, ambitions and dreams. This is it. Because it is so, I am as invested in the process as I have ever been. I am deliberately mindful of, and therefore enjoying, each part of the process. Which is why I happily chug along even when I know the road ahead is sure to be rife with difficulty. I’m ready.
On Twitter today @DIYauthor posted the following tweet:
What problem with writing was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Undoubtedly, I have experienced many roadblocks to writing and writing well. But the greatest? That’s a no-brainer. The number one roadblock for me has always been finding time to write. At least that was the case until 74 days ago. Hence, the overcoming part.
I replied that My 365 Day Writing Project was how I overcame that roadblock. The simple act of replying to that tweet was yet another affirmation of this journey I am on. That what I am doing is not only working, it is casting forth benefits and personal victories I never imagined. Writing every day has produced rewards within rewards, delivered in perpetuity like little treasures inside Matryoshka dolls.
Is finding time to write still a challenge for me? Yes. And it will probably continue to be a challenge for me until I can quit my day job. At least now I know how to overcome it if it blocks my road to successful writing again. Because of this project, I’m doing it. I’m finding time to write every day.
It isn’t exactly an amazing feat, but I’m proud to say I started “Chapter Ten” of my book today. This is important to me because over the last ten years I have started writing several different books. I never finished any of them. In fact, I never even made it to double digits chapters in any of them. Three chapters in one, six chapters in another, you get the idea. This book – the one I am currently writing – is the furthest I have ever gotten. Chapter Ten. It is a little silly, I know, but I found it surprisingly satisfying to start that chapter today.
I didn’t get very far into it because I am too darn tired to keep my eyes open tonight, but you can be sure I will get into this chapter again tomorrow. Since it is number ten, I have some good ideas for it. I want it to be a good one.
After feeling some anguish after yesterday’s writing experience, I am feeling quite good today. Yesterday, I had belabored the fact that I introduced a new character. The introduction of the character or the timing of it, both of which were unplanned, had the brutal effect of bringing my writing flow to a screeching halt. I struggled to write afterward. And it was no fun at all.
Today, yesterday’s problems were just that. Today was a fresh start in the middle of a chapter. The story flowed easily, and ironically, I spent some of it writing about the new character. It was as if his introduction turned out not only to be well-timed, but also managed to bring a new angle to the plot that drummed up a worthwhile scene. It just goes to show that sometimes, the story works itself out.
It was a slow weekend of writing for me. I wrote a total of only 400 words between Saturday and Sunday. Not stellar, but at least I kept things moving forward. I encountered a problem which halted my writing flow to a snail’s pace. The problem was my decision to add an unplanned character.
As I write this I realize how ridiculous that sounds, that adding a character could cause a problem with my writing process. But it did. I think it was not so much the addition of this person as it was the timing of it. I introduced him at a point in the story that in hindsight, was maybe not a good time. I am now trying to tamp down the urge to go back and re-write it. But I will not. I will wait, I will wait, I will wait. Write now, edit later. Write NOW, edit LATER. (Yes, you’ve heard me chant this before because I literally need to remind my obsessive-compulsive, hyper-editing self over and over and over. And yes, it works.)
Now that I have added this new character, who has a small role to fill, I will need to later decide whether to cut him out completely or change the timing of his introduction. I foresee another slowing of progress because of this, but I suppose that is okay. It’s all part of the creative process and I must embrace the bad with the good. And who knows, maybe later when I read it I’ll think the character’s introduction is brilliant in timing. Or not. And if THAT flip-flopping chain of thought isn’t incentive enough to wait to edit later, I don’t know what is.
For my job, I read a lot. I mean, A LOT. And I write a lot too. I find it ironic that the two most important things to do to become a successful writer are to read and write as much as possible. It’s ironic because I don’t consider the reading and writing I do for my job to go hand-in-hand with my pursuit to be a professional writer. Since I am and want to be a writer of fiction, I need to read and write fiction as much as possible. Not contracts, legal memoranda, pleadings, motions and complex letters, among other things.
I enjoy reading fiction as much as I enjoy writing it. But I haven’t read any books since I started this project. I have no time to. I write late at night after I get the kids to bed. By the time I turn in, I’m too tired to open a book and I need to get some sleep before my alarm goes off early the next morning.
Currently, there is a book sitting on my nightstand that I would like to read. I swear it’s calling me. Read me. I read the first few pages but haven’t had a chance to read more. I really want to. So what should I do? Sacrifice some of my writing time to read? That may be the only way, but I hate to think of sacrificing my writing time. It is too important.
I need to find another way to get in some reading for fun. Writers, how do you manage to fit in time to both read and write?
I found the opportunity to write for a while during the late morning today. It was a short stint but I thoroughly enjoyed the clarity of thought that I experienced. It was quite a change from the late nights spent writing through exhaustion, especially lately. Although I had to stop before I really got into the swing, it was not before I drummed up a new idea for the scene I was writing. Again, I found myself reaching new angles I would not have reached had I not let things evolve organically. Let it happen. Don’t force it.
If you are at all like me – someone with Type A tendencies – you know how difficult that is to do. The best part is that it is all the more freeing. It takes a lot of gumption and self-control to let things develop as they will. But it gets a writer thinking, and when something good and unexpected comes from having less control, the benefits outweigh whatever discomfort the writer may feel. I think I’ll try it more often.