When I finished my first novel I tucked it way for a few weeks to simmer and set. Then my break-need set in as well. I’d completely burned myself out. I knew it was coming on for quite a while. Fast forward to a few months later, and regaining entry has proved more difficult than I expected.
There is a disconnection that happens when you leave a WIP to rest a while. The positives are seeing your piece with fresh, often scrutinizing eyes. The negatives–what you see may or may not be something you like or can even use. Not all we create will be worth a damn in terms of publication, regardless of the time spent–weeks, months–years even.
In my attempt to pick up where I left off, many aspects are working quite well, while others, I see now, must be scrapped. I shall need to rewrite my first chapter for instance. A daunting prospect as it has given me trouble since day one. I would scrap it too if I could figure out how without losing needed story elements. It just refuses to roll off my tongue in the right way. My playlists are providing some needed inspiration and with any luck will carry me through the 25 or so pages.
Any tips for re-entry after letting the novel stew a while? Ideas to trigger to inspiration?
This is when nothing clicks anymore. When your sentences sound awful, your story doesn’t make sense, you can’t think or concentrate. I believe this is writers burn out. This is writers burn out for me.
This is the point when you wonder for the first time if you should ditch it. Dismantle it all. Everything. And call it a day. This is where I am. I hate to admit it. Admitting it makes it real.
This isn’t writers block. This is something completely different, completely foreign.
My novel is still on my mind, new ideas still come to the surface. Some days I jot them down, other days I push them away.
I’m pretty sure this is why blogs disappear, novels go unfinished, talent goes untapped or unseen. This is when writers walk away.
Walking away isn’t my plan.
But I have been putting too much pressure on myself. Listening to too much noise. I suppose it’s part of the process–these revelations of sorts. I hope.
So, I believe the only solution is to leave it be for a while. Take a few more walks, run a little farther–a little faster and try to regain the passion that put me in front of my laptop screen in the first place.
Back to the grindstone. That’s code for editing. When in doubt about what you’re trying to write and banging your head against the wall doesn’t help anymore, edit a different work in progress!
Step 1. Reread, again.
Step 2. Cut and rewrite, again.
Step 3. Repeat, again.
Step 4. Question everything.
Step 5. Ditch it and create random blog entries.
Ding, Ding, Ding….I choose number 5.
Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!
I am not a multitasker. At All. Thus, my scattered mind and anti-focusing ability. No I do not have ADHD. People with ADHD probably focus better than I do as of late. I think back on the first six months or so of writing my novel, when all my thoughts were a flowing faucet. When my energy was high and my enthusiasm was higher. When I was positive my story was right on course. I wrote my first draft in three months. The full story. A year later, I’ve rewritten that story probably five times.
I wonder about authors like JK Rowling. She took five years to complete The Sorcerer’s Stone. I wonder how she didn’t lose interest after all that time–how she kept her focus. It’s applaudable really.
Here in the 13th month with my WIP, I am the closest I have been to actually finishing–I’m just not sure how close that is. If I could sit and write for hours like I did in the beginning maybe I would already be done. But the constant questions hanging over my shoulder as I write, quash that possibility. They urge me to look deeper, question more–take longer.
I am trying to embrace my style of writing, find it useful in my progression and learn from it. After all, it is the way I write, frustrating one day, over-exuberant the next. At some point I’ll nail down the ins and outs and reel in the over-bearing devil on my shoulder. In the meantime, I’ll try to embrace what he says instead of fighting him all the time. Or…..I’ll just knock him off;)
My rewrites are numerous. My ideas…off the chart ridiculous. My scope…? I’m not sure it’s wide enough. And honestly, I’m not sure how to figure it out. I know that sounds stupid. Let me say it this way. I can name any number of my favorite books and point out just where they went right. The reasons the story works and flows. I can name a few other books that all but lose me. Or pick me up and then drop me again. The books that I need more from, more detail, more explanation, more feeling.
I read my book over and over with all the rewrites and editing. Some days, I love it. Other days, I wonder what in the hell? The questioning of my work is what messes me up. Really, I’m fine with that part of the process. The questioning, it’s needed to a point. What I’m not fine with is where to cut it off. When you read your own work so many times, it can feel cluttered and clunky. When I walk away from it for a few days, read it again, I see more hiccups and fix them. Again.
That’s just it. That’s the problem. I could do this same drill for months. I know I could. So when do I leave it the hell alone and know it’s where it needs to be? When I have too many thoughts and ideas at once, my head will likely explode. And I think that’s my issue. Too many ideas. I put my novel down, walk away, come back, read it again and “Hey! I’ve got an idea!” Or worse, “What am I saying??” I don’t know how to turn it off. All this second guessing will likely kill me.
Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -you just don’t know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you’d mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place. Trust your demon.
– Roger Zelazny
First off…As if I do not have enough hair pulling going on with simply trying write, I have thrown myself into the twitter bowl. If nothing else, it should be entertaining to watch me crash and burn for a few weeks.
On a positive note, writing picked up steam last night and I was not only able to stomach the first 7 again, but actually made some good edits along the way. I’m on the upside of my carousel ride again…I pray it hangs in for a while.
In the earliest stages of my novel–when it was only a stream of ideas, my POV took hold. It wasn’t something I thought about at the time. But I think about it now and why it came so naturally. I wonder how much of me was my protagonist in the beginning. As the story moved and continued to unfold, the characters became a far cry from where they started–who they were, when I started. The personas, voices, thoughts and feelings are distinctly their own now. They are no longer the people I began with and I love that.
I realize that there is a part of me in everything I write. A part of every author is weaved into their landscape, their characters, their stories. In some way, no matter how small, we are what we write. The choices we make, the angles we take, the voices we use–they are all part of who we are. Knowingly or not.
When we write, we create the world, the rules, the behavior and the actions. It is at our command. The possibilities are endless. The ability to change and evolve. The choice to stay the same. But I believe our characters at some point, take over. They have to. They lead us the rest of the way through the journey and to the end. And in that evolution, the real story comes out.
The best idea in the world rarely ends where a writer thinks it will without total manipulation of the characters. Unless we allow them to speak on their own, we can never know the true story. At some point we need to relinquish part of the control and allow ourselves to be led rather than to lead.
“Writing is rewriting. A writer must learn to deepen characters, trim writing, intensify scenes. To fall in love with a first draft to the point where one cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospects of never publishing.”
-Richard North Patterson