Month one of writing my second novel, Snowe Storms, went much the way a menstrual cycle typically does, and by that I mean, it did not go according to plan.
In fact, the more I think about it, so much of May was relatable to a whack-ass period, it was eerie.
Gory to look at?
Late on deadlines?
Uncomfortable and, at times, painful?
BUT, as with all things meant to be, I got through it and proved that perseverance truly is your best buddy when it comes to writing novels.
Perseverance and chocolate, that is 🙂
Running Word Count
Why no ‘ho’ to my ‘yea’?
I hate not reaching reasonable goals that I set for myself.
I know it may have seemed unreasonable to set a goal to finish an outline, a rough draft, and a first draft all in one month. And it may have seemed like a stretch to write five chapters a day to finish that first draft when I was already pretty far behind on my milestone deadlines. So to those of you who found my goals unreasonable, you win this round 😉
But the problem wasn’t my goal setting, the problem was May, I tell you. MAY!
For a moment there, I thought everything was going according to plan…
I had my concept, I had my character development briefs, I had an outline and, for the first five chapters, I flew like the wind, Bullseye!
Then I made my way into the first major plot twist and froze up. Rather, instead of freezing to my desk until a release from writer’s block melted my grip, I found anything I could to be a distraction from my failure as a writer.
Which, on the one hand, was extremely helpful. I made a few cat stands, painted the inside of the house, organized my office, and cooked some fancy-pants meals in the fallout.
But I avoided my WIP like I avoid anyone in the real world who coughs into the air instead of in their hand. Like, that’s how people die… . …I think…. .. .. .. …I’m pretty sure!
I don’t know why I avoided it as much as I did, other than a fear of failure and a fear of workload…it’s hard to revisit an entire concept and rework it; it’s even harder to do that as an amateur novelist, unsure if you’re making your story better or worse with every change you make.
When I finally accepted the flaws that were holding me back (self-doubt, disorganization, fear of defeat), I was able to work through them, but not at a pace I liked.
And that’s what I’m still grappling with: speed.
I think that’s why I desperately want to be a pantser, because to me it seems like that’s a faster process.
But this month I learned it most certainly is not!
Not for me, anyways.
Pantsing ends up exhausting my efforts and wasting my time. When I go into a chapter knowing everyone’s motives, passions, and backstory, I whip out a much better draft than when I go in blind.
So until I conjure a book concept that is capable of writing itself at a speed I find reasonable, I’m an outliner. A plotter. A planner by all measure!
The next step, is figuring out how to adapt to missed deadlines because, let’s face it, I’m a speed-typer who has zero creative filter and absurdly ambitious expectations. I WILL write four books this year. Period. This isn’t a discussion because I’ve already done it. In the future. Go look!
I’m just hoping to figure out a process sooner than later that works consistently for me so I can become as efficient as possible.
I reasonably have, can, and do pump out 5,000-10,000 words, on a good day, while drafting. This is how I can create a basket of literary gold and feel nothing short of a smirk as I toss full pages out of my collection. Where a lot of writer’s struggle to cut sentences/paragraphs/chapters from their work (content they think is absolutely necessary even when it’s not), I just scrap that shit and keep moving.
But despite my speed-typing abilities, May was a writing slump for me, and I think I know who the culprit is (I’ve mentioned it so much in the last month of blogging that my site may have renamed itself to match this latest foe): FEAR.
Let’s all agree to slingshot ourselves into June with ZERO FEAR and MAXIMUM LOVE
Fear is defined as: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”
Fear, translated into Noveldom-speak, means that I’m emotionally stunted by my own visions of what success and failure might look like in my not-too-distant future.
More than anything else, I’m afraid I’ll fail at becoming an author. I’ll fail to write a good story, or entertain my readers, or sell a book, or make this a longterm career change.
All understandable fears, mind you! But nothing that should be clogging my writing flow like a stopped drain.
Radical example: would you avoid grocery shopping for fear of not finding what you want to purchase when you arrive?
Of course not, says I! So why would I avoid my own interesting story concepts out of fear of not finding what I want at the end of this Noveldom tunnel?
How about I just go ahead and assume that when I show up to that Noveldom “grocery store” of sorts, they’ll have everything I want and I’ll get to pick and choose to my unending delight.
A writing contract.
A multi-book deal.
A new career that I adore.
A lifetime of novel writing ahead of me.
A booth at a book convention.
In this new reality of June, there is no room for such a ridiculous emotion as fear of something we cannot predict!
I know a grocery store and a publishing house are two very different things and two very different experiences. But let’s face it, as amateur novelists, if we get hung up on what may or may not happen when we’re done crafting this beast, we may get too fearful and never finish it in the first place.
What fears are holding you back from writing with ease and how can you mentally recalibrate them for success?
It sounds silly, but reminding myself that I wouldn’t pose unnecessary, illogical fears when going to a grocery store is seriously helping my mind rework how much negative rhetoric I spew every time I hit a writing jam.
Just because I hit traffic on the way to the grocery store, doesn’t mean I won’t find bread when I get there.
Just because I hit a writing jam on chapter thirteen, doesn’t mean I won’t land a publishing contract when I get to that point!
And just because I get hung up on flaws in my novel, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth creating!
What quirky tactics do you revert to when your Negative Norman’s got you by the neck?