Day two-hundred ninety of my 365 Day Writing Project.
How do we know that we are doing something worthwhile and that it isn’t all for naught? How do we know that we are writing something that will interest others and will bring them enjoyment in life? How do we know that our time building a dream isn’t time wasted? Or even worse, are we just chasing that dream? How do we know? Well, here is a dingle berry of an answer: we don’t.
Doubt is as much our friend as it is our foe. Doubt can infest our minds to the point of paralysis of motivation. It can choke our creativity and stifle our drive to succeed. In my opinion, doubt is worse than fear, because fear is born out of doubt which is a fear of the unknown. It’s an ugly thing. But on the flip side, doubt helps us self-govern and self-regulate. It causes us to keep ourselves in check, to not let our egos take over. Doubt forces us to subscribe to an “all or nothing” philosophy. We either give our all to crush that doubt to rubble, or we get too scared to crush anything. Yes, we can fail and crash in a pile of flaming turd, but just think: we can soar and reach the stars.
As a writer, doubt be damned…I keep thinking about those stars.
Day two hundred sixty of my 365 Day Writing Project.
A few days ago, I started writing a new book. For those of you jumping in now without knowing what I have been up to lately, let me bring you up to speed: I decided last week to set aside the first draft of my first book for a while. The revision stage wasn’t working well for me and finishing a second draft was becoming increasingly difficult. I think I’ll revisit the book some day, but I currently have no plans for it.
In the meantime, I am thrilled to be back to straight-shooting, unadulterated writing. I love the feel of extracting crazy and beautiful and awkward thoughts from my mind, one word at a time. Reality disappears except for the sensation of my fingers hitting the keys as the words flow out of me. I always feel that. The sound of each strike is comforting background noise. Tappity tap tap ta-tap. It speaks to remind me of why I am writing, sometimes with surprising enthusiasm. I always hear that. Creative process envelops me, like an old friend wondering where I have been but picking up where we left off. I always welcome that. Emotional upheaval ensues, commingling my hopes and fears between the storm and the calm, then sending them out into the Universe to be swept up by the wind and carried away. I always need that.
Day two hundred fifty-five of my 365 Day Writing Project.
Two decisions are better than one. I continue to struggle through the process of revising the first draft of my book. I just can’t seem to make solid progress, for whatever reason. So the malaise and general dissatisfaction with my writing continues. What once was, is no longer. The fulfillment isn’t there, the release of emotion isn’t there, and by all means the fun sure isn’t there. I was writing for myself, but that is not what I have been doing lately.
So, I decided to decide. Yes, that’s two decisions. Number one: If I want things to change, I must change them. I decided to make a change. Number two: I decided what that change must be, naturally.
It is this: Either I buck up and hammer through the first draft revision out of some self-imposed sense of obligation to finish what I started, or I put it aside indefinitely and write something else. I choose the latter. And I’m positively thrilled about it.
Day two hundred forty-six of my 365 Day Writing Project.
Not too long ago I had a good thing going. I was writing every day and chronicling my experience of writing my first novel. I was on a roll at a comfortable pace and settled into a comfortable groove. After about six months, I completed the first draft. But ever since then, my “roll” has turned into more of an awkward tumble. Somehow, I lost my groove.
I’m working on getting it back but I’m still out of sync. I think it is just going to take some time, patience and continued determination to reach my goal. Hopefully soon, I’ll tumble my way back into my groove again.
Well, if this isn’t a sign that I am disenchanted with revising the first draft of my book, I don’t know what is.
I wrote tonight. But I didn’t write for my own emotional enjoyment like I usually do. I wrote for my day job. Don’t get too excited or anything, but I wrote…are you ready for it? A settlement agreement. Yippee, woo hoo, I can hardly contain my creativity from exploding onto the screen. This is the type of writing I do at my day job on a regular basis, so when it comes to doing it during my free time, I usually can’t procrastinate quick enough. (Or slow enough?)
But in truth, I was glad to do it. I didn’t want to work on revising my book tonight. I settled a case today and if we are going to avoid trial later this week, I need to have the document ready to be signed tomorrow. I worked on it tonight when I would normally be writing for fun, or lately, revising (not so fun). I chose to write for my day job instead of for me. A settlement agreement, for Pete’s sake. I think it is fair to declare myself in a funk. The good news is, at least I’m still writing…something.
Day two hundred thirty-seven of my 365 Day Writing Project.
Am I in revising hell? Some days it feels like I am because in all honesty, I’d rather be writing. Writing is an exercise that allows one to stretch her legs and push herself to her limits, pulse a-ticking and mind a-blaze. Revising is…well, to me revising feels like the equivalent of the timer watching the clock on the sidelines, starting and stopping play.
It’s no wonder, then, that I have not been inclined to blog as often while in this revision phase. Motivation has been waning and I have not been spending as much daily time on my book like I was when I was writing. Is there something I can do to make this revision phase better? Does anyone have tips on how to make it more enjoyable than it actually is?
Day two hundred thirty-three of my 365 Day Writing Project.
Revising and rewriting is much more difficult than I anticipated. I’m too often squabbling over minor things, reluctant to take out parts that probably should be removed, and unsure of ways to make a chapter better. It has been overwhelming, really, so I have been searching for ways to improve the process. Finally, I think I found a solution.
Instead of revising by chapter, I have narrowed my focus to revise by paragraph. I ask myself several questions with each paragraph, picking my way through in small bites. It is no longer overwhelming. Bringing my lens closer has also allowed me to not get bogged down in trying to create a perfect 2nd draft. I have to remind myself: Make a pass and remember that you will need to make more passes before it is done. Just make a pass, one paragraph at a time.
These are the questions I have come up with to work on each paragraph:
Is the paragraph necessary to move the story forward? If it isn’t, get rid of it.
Does the paragraph serve its purpose to convey information to the reader in a clear way? If it doesn’t, revise it.
Is the information in the paragraph consistent with the plot? If it isn’t, get rid of it or rewrite it to fit the plot.
Does the paragraph keep the readers attention? If not, rewrite it.
Does the writing in the paragraph keep a smooth flow and rhythm, connecting well with the previous paragraph? If not, revise it.
Whether this method works for everyone is doubtful, but so far, it works for me. In fact, it may be just what I need to get to a finished manuscript.
Day two hundred thirty of my 365 Day Writing Project.
I’m back. Back into the rewrite. I did some other writing for a bit, but began to again feel that niggling urge to get up to my elbows in revising my first draft. And I must say, it feels good to get back at it.
I’m revisiting the second half of Chapter 3 with purpose in mind to make changes to the plot. So far, so good. It’s even a little exciting. I have discovered that plot changes have that effect on me. With renewed creative energy, I look forward to working on it some more tomorrow.