With less than two weeks to go until the release of my third novel, Close To Home (and yes, I am excited!!!) I’ve been pondering, again, this whole writing business. Starting work on a new novel, I’ve found the same issues keep arising, the same old worries, concerns and obstacles that came up with novels 1 and 2. I’m the first to admit I’m a bit of a slow learner but I have found it worthwhile to review my novel writing experiences. So, in no particular order I’ll be doing a series of posts (to be posted each Wednesday, this one is a day late) on that very topic, partly as a reminder to myself and hopefully to help some other writers out there.
Here goes with Number 1:
If You’re Stuck Just keep Writing.
I’m not a planner. I’m one of those writers who starts with an idea or image, leaps into the story and lets the characters and plot develop as I write. With Close To Home I fully intended to ‘correct’ this habit. I sat down, pen in hand, began writing out dot points, managed about six and hit a wall. No matter how hard I tried, how many lists I brainstormed or diagrams I drew, that was as far as my plotting would go.
So I reverted to my previous mode of operating – pantsing – and started writing. It was easy, I had the beginning of the story playing in my head like a movie. The character, the place, the initial part of the plot. Words flowed fairly effortlessly onto the page. I sat at the computer tallying up the words, thinking I had this whole writing thing well under control. Until I hit – no, crashed – into that wall and the momentum stopped.
Where to next?
I gave myself a reward of a few days off, thinking my brain would come up with something once I rested it.
So I gave myself a week, two weeks, then three.
By the time I reached a month without having written a word I felt completely stalled. Totally useless. The fear monster had been let out of it’s lair and had me in it’s clutches. How could I go back to writing the story when I didn’t know what happened next?
Had no freakin idea?
Luckily for me I was on a deadline of sorts. My publisher wanted to see the manuscript in a couple of months time. There was no way I was going to send her a raw draft. I had to get this thing written and then at least lightly revised before I could show it to anyone.
So after 4 or 5 weeks of procrastination I opened my laptop and told myself to write. Anything. It didn’t matter what. Start with a word. Then a sentence. Get to a paragraph. It’s a draft. It’s going to be revised anyway. Write one word and then the next and then the next. No matter how long it takes just sit there and write.
That first day back at it I managed a paragraph. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad. But there were more words on the page.
The next day I did the same, managing a page or so. I can’t tell you exactly when it happened but at some point a switch flicked on in my brain. The writing took over. I STOPPED THINKING and let the words write themselves and without me even realising it the story started to tell itself again.
And there it was, the turning point that got my first draft finished. I’m not saying the rest of the novel flowed fully formed from my finger tips but it did end up on the page and gave me something to work with and revise.
Now I’m writing a new book and while I have the first part of the book clear in my head I know I’m approaching a roadblock. What I have to remember is that there is a way around that block. And the way around it is to keep writing.
Speaking of which I’d better get back to it.
I’d love you to share your own writing experiences and what you’ve learnt from them in the comments.
Close To Home is available at 20% off for pre order here