Dames and dudes, I’m gonna be real up front about this: I’ve got an addiction to perfectionism.
And as I made my way past chapter twenty today, I realized it was either going to slow down my progress on finishing this first draft (REFUSE!) or I was going to have to find a way to tame that strange until it could serve a legitimate purpose in the future.
There’s nothing wrong with making adjustments to your storyline as you go. But a problem arises when you’re constantly changing things up to make your story more, more, MORE. At that point, you struggle to finish anything because you keep redoing EVERYTHING.
I took the red pill, as it were, and dove head-first into my first draft only to realize halfway through…I’m being chased by rogue storylines
You know that part in the Matrix when Neo takes the red pill and falls into reality? Everything’s going just fine during his training until team Nebuchadnezzar realize they’re being hunted by machines. Then all hell breaks loose…
Well, that’s been my experience during the second half of WIP #2.
I accepted my fate in writing this story, I accepted the outline I’d drawn out, I even shoved my petty, pompous Negative Norman to the side for once so I wouldn’t have to suffer through incessant mental bitching. And, for a moment there, I really thought I was going to finish this first draft as smoothly as anticipated.
I’m sure Morpheus really thought he’d saved the day by rescuing and training Neo…what could possibly go wrong?!
Second-guessing, perfectionistic, high-expectation gobble-di-gook, that’s what!
Out of nowhere, as I rounded into chapter eighteen, I began to wonder if the storyline I had created was as great as it could be…
I started to take note of how serious the undertone of the story had become, how dramatic and shocking the action and reality of the story really were. And, if it isn’t already apparent, I’m more of a comedic spirit. My writing tends to be more lighthearted no matter how serious I feel.
So you can imagine my surprise as I went back to reread my work to find that even my sarcasm had a veil of nefarious intent.
And that’s when the threads of this mind-fuck sweater really began to fall apart.
What is going on with my story concept that everything is so damn serious and even my humor sounds bloody?
After spending the afternoon reeling in storyline havoc, I realized something profoundly important to my novel writing process and, more importantly, what was going on with my overly-dramatic story:
The first draft creates the action points, the second draft imbues logic, and the third draft connects the two (action and logic) with deep emotion.
Just because you can make action points in a storyline connect, doesn’t mean you should.
Consider a puzzle. Sometimes you’ll find a piece that seems like it fits but you know it doesn’t. You can squeeze it in there all you want, but you, and everyone else working that puzzle, know it doesn’t belong there.
That’s the feeling I was getting by the time I rounded chapter twenty today.
I’ve got storylines that work to explain action points and, by all accounts, they make sense. But the logic I chose for why those actions occur at all, doesn’t jive with me. The answers are too easy, too fallible, too orchestrated. In short, they lack the emotional drive necessary for the number of years in between action points in the backstory.
Immediately, I went into perfectionist mode. I took two hours out of my day to seriously consider scraping this draft and starting over…again (if you’re following along, you know I already scraped my rough draft at chapter ten).
But then I pumped the breaks.
I reread some of my latest posts in this blog and realized that my perfectionisty self would never get through this first draft if I kept up this Bob The Builder-esque attitude of proving in the moment that I can fix things.
So into the rabbit hole I go, refusing to catch myself on the way down, hoping I land on something reasonable and that my journey out of the hole isn’t as questionable as it was going in…
I chose this rabbit hole.
I intelligently thought about it before I dug myself in and I chose this storyline regardless of the difficulty I knew I’d face. I chose this red pill, osh-kosh b’gosh! Ain’t no two ways about it!
And while it may drive me crazy right now that I’m writing a ton of content that will most likely get cut by the third draft, it drives me even crazier knowing that I’m dragging this process out relentlessly with my unwavering perfectionism.
So here’s a big KUDOS to me for not letting perfectionist tendencies get in my way today!
I got as far as chapter twenty-two by this evening and am proud to say that my first draft is panning out just as I realized it ought to: full of action points that will immediately need logical rationality in draft #2.
Here’s to a fruitful tomorrow where I plan to get through the last seven chapters of my first draft!
When you took that red pill (because, if you’re writing a novel, you most certainly did), which enemies popped up to slow down your progress
We fine crew of amateur novelists tend to face a lot of validation, self-confidence, and time constraint issues. Presently, I’m struggling through the first and second.
I’m constantly looking to validate my story concept in any way I can (sharing ideas with friends, talking about it online, etc.), but that doesn’t really help ease my mind when I’m convinced I can do better.
Ahh, psychology, you fickle wench.
Turns out, you can know all of your brain’s tendencies and it’ll still try to one up ya!