It is a beautiful sunny day and I am sitting on my porch as I write this. I have missed my porch. During the Winter it has been too cold and the Spring has been rather wet. We have had a few good days but for some reason I haven’t made it out to the porch to write.
Possibly because of the glare. I am having a difficult time seeing the computer screen. White porch + bright sunlight = low screen visibility. I have sunglasses….somewhere. I guess I will just have to make do.
I came out here to work on my Science Fiction novel. It has been simmering in a box for awhile now, waiting for me to get around to the next rewrite/edit. I have this problem with editing…I don’t like to do it. Part of that is because I don’t really know what to do when it comes to editing. I know something is wrong. I can feel that it’s off, but pinpointing exactly what, always gives me trouble. Some of this is just because I don’t know what questions to ask myself and some of this is lack of practice. As in most things, the more you do it the better you get.
I have been reading this book, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, and it has been a big help. The other day I actually took my Sci-Fi novel out of its box and started to work on it. First I re-read it and then I spent thirty minutes starring at the first page. I knew stuff was wrong. The second paragraph in was really wrong, but no matter how I turned the page or willed the answer to come to me, I couldn’t figure it out. So I turned to my friend Jessi and said, “What’s wrong with this sentence right here?”
She read over the page and pointed out the sentence in question would read easier if I made it into three sentences and the next paragraph could be summed up in one three word sentence. I looked at again and decide that her suggestions were Pure Genius! After that the rest of the page went smoothly. Also, I began to notice I repeatedly made similar mistakes on other pages.
I rewrote that first page then went back to compare it to the original. It was so very much better that it made me excited. Maybe this editing thing isn’t so bad after all. 🙂
The house was cool despite the sun shining through the window. By late afternoon it was usually warm enough to turn on the air conditioning but today I sat at my computer bundled in jeans and a sweatshirt with a cup of coffee to warm my hands.
My fingers felt numb, but that could be because they had been posed in the same position for almost an hour and my screen was still blank. Ideas flashed through my head in a never ending kaleidoscope yet I hadn’t written a single word. I had my current book to finish before I could give in to the temptation of new untarnished ideas. Sadly, finishing my novel was proving more difficult that it should be. My inner perfectionist was getting in the way again. I had already wasted days trying to fix the mess I had made of the plot and now that I had a clear view of where the story was going I was having trouble putting the words down. What if I was mistaken? I didn’t want to spend another week untangling story threads. I wanted to get it done, but I also wanted to get it done right.
With a sigh I picked up my coffee cup, gulped a mouth full of caffeine, and frowned. It had gone cold.
Some people say Writer’s Block doesn’t exist. I think it all depends on your point of view. Writer’s Block is where something, often ourselves, gets in the way of whatever we are working on. You come face to face with some sort of wall that seems next to impossible to get around.
I am currently starring at such a wall right now.
I know that it is my own doubt that is keeping me motionless and my own fear of completing this work in progress. I fear that it will suck even after I’ve put so much effort into it. I worry about what I will work on after this story is finished. I fear that my creativity will dry up. These are all unfounded fears of course, but they still seem to keep me frozen in place.
So, I give myself permission to suck. I give myself permission to write past this wall even if they words I put down are the most awful ever written. There will be stories after this one, and everything else can be fixed in the edit.
The muddle in the middle can stop a writer flat. You know how you wanted the story to go. Maybe you are even one of those organized people who did an outline. (Something I very rarely do. Though I am trying this thing with note cards and a cork board…) Eventually though you are going to come to the sinking quicksand, energy sucking, enthusiasm crushing, muddle.
Usually this happens about half way through a story. Sometimes it isn’t until 3/4 of the way through. (If it happens after the first paragraph you may want to sit and think about your story some more before you try to write it. Chances are you may have some great characters but no story to go with them…or the reverse problem, story but no characters.)
The point is you will eventually be doing the writing equivalent of slugging through two feet of mud uphill. (If you have never experienced the muddle then you either haven’t written enough or you are one lucky…person, and should probably keep it to yourself, least other writers feel the need to pelt you with their manuscripts.) The secret to getting past the muddle is just to keep going. If you stop and stand still you are going to sink or be lured away by the sirens call of a fresh tale. Either way, it means the death of your current work in progress.
Just keep going. The ground will eventually solidify underneath your writing feet and you will find the going easier. Honest. I just made it out of the muddle myself.
After my last post I decide to play around on line a little and maybe see if I could find a few tips on how to make the rewriting/editing process easier. (I started the 2nd or 3rd draft of my scifi novel recently. I’ve forgotten which draft I am on. I just know it isn’t done yet.) A lot of what I do is trial and error right now. I am still trying to figure out what works for me.
The thing about writing and editing is that there is a lot of advice out there on how to do it and a lot of suggestions but not everything works for everybody. You have to figure out how you work. However, I have found knowing how other people write and edit helps give me ideas and things to try. Sometimes they work sometimes they don’t.
For example outlining does not work for me. I can scribble down a general idea of what I think should happen or the basic idea I have for the book but that is about it. If I go more in depth than I eventually toss the book in the trash in frustration. Also I rarely know the ending before I start. I know people who can’t even start writing if they don’t know how it is going to end and I know people who have to have step by step outlines for each story they attempt. I know a wonderful writer who struggles with fear of endings. Her books are amazing but she can’t stop writing them so they keep going…and going. She is currently working on different strategies to help her over come this.
The point is not everything works for everybody.
Anyway, as I was saying before I got side tracked, I was looking for tips and I came across an interesting article published in Forbes back in August of last year about publishing and the rise in indie published books. http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidvinjamuri/2012/08/15/publishing-is-broken-were-drowning-in-indie-books-and-thats-a-good-thing/
It seems like I haven’t written anything “useful” here in a while. Mostly my blog post tend to be random and about whatever is on my mind at the time. There is actually a reason for that. I sometimes (Okay a lot of the time) use this blog as a free writing, where I get all the jumble of stuff running around in my head down in print. Then, when I am done, I can get to work writing on the stuff I am supposed to be working on.
Often when I sit down to write I get in my own way. I stare at the blank screen and think: this is hard, I don’t feel good, I don’t wanna write this scene, I don’t know what happens next, I don’t wanna think….ect. In short, I can be pretty whiny. This is why I typically have a notebook or a journal to write in as well. I whine in it for a little while and then I feel better and can get to work. Unfortunately, my hands do not take to handwriting for long periods of time without causing me lots of unwanted pain.
There are also memories or ideas that I just can’t shake loose sometimes too, like the thought of my grandmother’s biscuits and gravy. I currently have an Urban Fantasy story in the works and biscuits and gravy may be nice, but they really don’t fit in a car chase. (Not in a serious car chase at any rate.) So I wrote about them here. If I ever need to bring to mind a country breakfast cooked on an old cast iron stove, I can glance back at my blog post from a few days ago.
It is good to have some place to write the random down. I don’t always write it as a blog post. In fact most of the time I don’t. But being a writer means having ideas floating around in your head and sometimes they can get in the way. So, you need to have a place to put them until you need them. It can be in a notebook, journal, scrapbook, three ring binder, or a folder on your computer. Heck, you can write it down on scraps of napkin and stuff it into a plastic bag if that’s what works. (A little weird maybe, but if it works I won’t question it….much…) The point is if you are having trouble writing maybe you need to clear some of the random thoughts away first.
It’s one of those mornings where I finally have the time and the peace to write but my mind is everywhere but where it should be.
I even have my tea and writing assistant close at hand, yet I still can seem to find my focus. I have some other stuff I have to do later today and I think that part of my distraction comes from worrying over my time limit and getting those things accomplished.
I guess I will just have to force myself to start writing and hope the focus comes. As long as I get something down it is better than the alternative. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be written.