Writing, for me, is such a fickle thing.
One minute I’m writing something that I think rocks and in the next I’m rereading it and stretching my finger up to the backspace key. Conversely, some days I write something that feels like utter sludge only to go back to it and think that it was really well written.
From what I’ve read this isn’t unusual for writers. In fact, I’ve found I have more than a few common traits with other writers. On days when I doubt myself I can at least look at that and think to myself, “well if I’m similar in all of these ways to all of these other peoples who say they are writers then I must be one of them!”
In case you’re wondering, it provides little solace.
Anyway, I’m just having a mentally self-judging morning. Today I want to review my progress over the last few days.
I’m hoping that every Monday I can do a review of what I accomplished in regards to my novel and maybe talk about roadblocks I’ve come up against, obstacles, and other musings that came to me over the weekend. I’m also hoping to do a weekend preview on Fridays with what challenges I face ahead of me and what my goals are for the days ahead. At least one other day of the week (not a weekend day because I am dedicating to writing and family) I plan to send another entry out into the worldwide web about anything really. Maybe ideas for other novels or short stories or random musings or just a spontaneous piece of writing. I don’t know, consider it my creative day as far as the blog goes.
Getting straight into it – this last weekend was a mixed bag.
On the one hand I accomplished a fair bit. I mean, most other writers probably wouldn’t consider writing 5 pages a major achievement but I have had severe struggles with maintaining my perseverance as a writer in the past and almost never make it past page 3. Being over page 10 right now has me feeling pretty good about myself. Not only did things go well on the writing front but also on the planning front. My novel has been on my mind pretty much non-stop since I decided I was going to try and jumpstart the writing engine again and, because of that, the story keeps snowballing in my head. The story has transformed in certain ways and didn’t elements that I originally never considered have begun to present themselves to me as the only natural succession of events. I’ve even had some great ideas for future novels and short stories come to mind, one that I’ve actually started to work on when I hit a roadblock on my novel so that I can keep the creative juices flowing and maybe find my way around the block.
On the other hand though, I feel like 3 out of 5 of my last pages were garbage. I haven’t gone back to reread them but I’m fairly confident this is one time I’m not being fickle. I feel like I had reverted back to my 15 year old, angst filled self when I wrote them. Thankfully it’s not the plot point I’m at or the idea that I’m conveying, I’m actually quite happy with that portion. It’s the writing which should maybe sound scarier to me than it does but…oh well!
I’ve struggled with different areas before and none of them are a secret to me. Obviously commitment to a project is the biggest one I am currently working on. The other big one is being descriptive. I consider myself a story driven writer. It’s probably a good thing that I have no intention of going into fantasy because world building is something that I would struggle with.
I’m also a very emotional writer. When I am writing a scene I always tend to stray away from describing the setting thoroughly and dive right into describing the emotional conflict between the characters and getting into the story advancement. I could write pages and pages just on a single character being introspective and I could spend the rest of the book just going from one event to the next. The problem I think is two-fold.
1) Being an effective story-teller means you can transport the reader to the place where these events are happening. You want them to feel it, see it, smell it and taste it. Yeah, I excluded hearing. Nobody wants to be able to hear what’s going on. I’m kidding but the point remains that describing what is all around the characters is crucial.
2) If I just went from event to event and spent pages here and there of deep character thought and focusing on drawing out emotion the book would be about the size of a novella. Well, maybe it would be a bit longer than that but it would not be long enough to be considered a novel. Descriptions are needed to bulk up a piece of writing.
I’m not saying you want to bulk up a piece of writing for the sake of bulking it up but adding descriptive narrative adds layers to the novel.
So, in saying all of this, my problem with what I wrote over this weekend is that I went from event to event without stopping to explain the setting. Seeing as I wanted this to be a chapter that sets the readers teeth on edge I need to work on this. Thinking about what I wrote I know that it didn’t meet the standard I have set for myself and it needs to be worked on.
However, I am not at all discouraged.
This isn’t the first time that I started novel only to end up writing something that I considered to be garbage. The difference between this time and all of those other times is that in the past I would delete all of those garbage chapters and go back and start over. That usually resulted in me quitting because of frustration and never picking up the project again. This time I made a rule for myself:
GET THE STORY OUT
This is only the first draft and I already know that it is going to be far from perfect. Even the parts I like are probably going to undergo major rewrites suggested by myself and then by others. Instead of TRYING to make it perfect the first time only to never get any further, this time I’m going to push past all of the crappy bits of writing and I am going to finish the novel. I want to know that I have created a story that is complete with a beginning, middle, and end before I go back and start trying to fix all of the problems.
The second draft I’ll go back and I will fix all of the mistakes I already know are there. I’ll probably do this 2 or 3 times before even passing it off to any friends or family members to read and critique. I don’t need to have my first draft come out like the last draft of a Stephen King novel. That would be insane to believe possible.
I think in the past I’ve had so little faith in myself and my abilities that when the weaknesses started to pop up I immediately thought that it meant that I wasn’t cut out for this and that the novel would NEVER be good. I judged my own first draft, page by page, as if it should be finalized.
This time I’m giving myself the chance to finish the story and then go fix it. I want it to be something I am proud of when I start sending out query letters to agents.
The week continues and the story keeps developing itself even before it finds its way to my computer.
OH, on a final note. For any aspiring authors like myself out there that may feel overwhelmed about more than just actually writing their first manuscript – head on over to http://www.roliterary.com.
Specifically, listen to their podcasts! I’ve found them extremely helpful and informative and they’ve made me feel way less stressed out about all of the stuff that comes after I finish my manuscript (especially finding an agent).