Every published author gives the same advice to aspiring writers: Write every day! One author suggests we keep in mind two words: discipline and respect. Great advice!
It’s no secret that the hardest victory in the world is a victory over your own self. Sometimes it’s next to impossible to make yourself do something that’s too challenging. Well, in my blog I’ll discuss only one challenging thing, which is writing fiction.
When no ideas come to my mind, I can’t keep my butt on the chair for several hours straight. And if/when I can, I’m busy reading news on the Internet, checking my email, commenting on my Facebook friends’ posts, chatting on Skype, etc. And all the mundane things that I tend to forgo or postpone at other times suddenly take precedence over my writing. Excuses, excuses, excuses…
Well, starting today, no more excuses!
On January 1st of this year, I had a Napoleonic plan: Write my fourth novel, governed by Karen S. Wiesner’s detailed instructions in her First Draft in 30 Days.
I started. I tried. I couldn’t.
My problem is this: I cannot make a step-by-step outline to save my life. I can’t possibly give life to a new character prior to writing the actual book. I absolutely cannot describe her/his appearance, personality, as well as involve them in activities before I meet them—in the book. Besides, even if I do have a general idea for a book, meticulous planning of events stifles my creativity, thus killing the joy of writing. And that’s the last thing I want to do–deprive myself of the pleasure of writing.
So I returned Wiesner’s instructions to the shelf and picked up my old notes for my fourth novel, made a year ago. Yes, I already had my first draft. It was very raw and very incomplete. But that’s what a first draft usually is like. It’s just a skeleton waiting for its arteries, veins, blood, skin, muscle, heart, and soul. It’s a sketch on a canvas waiting for brush strokes that would give it texture and color, and yes, heart and soul, too. So I just had to roll up my sleeves and start working.
I tried. Several times. I couldn’t do it. Why? I was lost in too many characters. And if I, the author, felt this way, what could I expect from my readers? I needed to sort my characters out. It was so damn hard.
But things aren’t as bad as I have now portrayed them. After all, I’m not writing a novel from scratch (even if I am). It’s a sequel to my previous one, A Measure of Guilt, and the protagonists are Kate and Nick who at the end of that mystery decide to travel to Russia. Which is what they do in the sequel. (I won’t reveal its title until I finish it.)
So waiting is a crucial word here, reminding me of the other two—discipline and respect. I have become disciplined in order to show respect for Kate and Nick. They’re the narrators in the next book, and they’re waiting for me to put their words on a page so that their story be told. And that’s what I should remember every day. And I will!
Right now, my manuscript has 50,809 words, with its beginning, middle, and ending. It’s only a half of the fully developed novel. I need to both beef it up and strip off the unnecessary stuff. But I’m not about to make a plan. I’ll just work with whatever idea hits me on a given day, and I’ll try to be satisfied with the result–as long as I’m working. A key to my success will be thinking about my book–constantly! That’s how I wrote my first three books, after all. They used to occupy my mind all the time. And I loved it!
So, I’m starting my 30-day writing marathon today, on May 6th. It’s my New Year’s, delayed by four months. Shame, shame, but…better late (to pull yourself together) than never, right?
As much as I would love to finish my second draft in thirty days, I realize that’s impossible. But I’ll work hard and, no matter how much (or little) I accomplish, I will post entries on my blog daily. And even if no one reads them (unless some other aspiring writers stumble on them and share their experiences), my blog will be just for me, and it’ll make me accountable. At the end of thirty days, on June 6th, I will have a record of the joys and troubles of my creative process. Which is a joy in itself, since writing is what I love!
So this is what I will do: Every evening I’ll record my daily progress and set a goal for the next day.
Today’s goal: Revise Chapter One.