Some good things have been happening lately. And some bad things too. The good things started with finding a great writing group filled with dedicated writers. The next good thing was that I started writing a novel (my first) as part of that group. I had a weekly commitment, and I had readers eager to see what I had written and give me honest feedback. Perfect. I’m a plotter, so I started outlining my novel. Then I started writing. But then I hit a snag.
I thought it was the classic outliner’s dilemma. You get excited about a story, you plot it out, and then the excitement fades when you actually start writing it. Writing it became a struggle. Then writing in general was a chore. Even blogging had lost most of its charm. I was getting frustrated and depressed because I wasn’t moving forward.
So what did I do? I put the novel on hold. I tried running away, basically. I wrote a short story and sent it off. And it was good. Or at least I liked it more than some of my other attempts. Things were looking up. But then I came back to my novel. And back to the “blahs.” But then I realized the problem.
My story just wasn’t as good as I had originally thought. That internal editor had overwhelmed me. So what did I do? I tore down my outline. I started over and rebuilt it. I made my characters more defined. I saw them more sharply in my mind. And in the new outline, I left details out. For the first time in a while, I let the characters have some control. And the story began to take off again. I was writing. And blogging became more fun as well.
And that’s when things the really good things started to happen. Not only was I making progress on my novel and improving a lot of the weaknesses of the earlier draft, but then @MythicScribes also retweeted a link to my blog, resulting in a record-setting number of viewers to my site.
So what did I learn? One, running away can help, so long as I run to another story. My short story was a nice distraction. It was a good story (I think, but I’m biased). And it let my subconscious rest a bit. The internal editor grew quiet, and my creative side grew more relaxed and confident. Second, eventually you’re going to have to face your problems. Writing is hard. Writing a novel is even harder–probably (no definitely) the hardest thing I’ve tried to write. There are going to be days that suck. But figure out what’s wrong. Break your story down, and rebuild it into something better. Make wild changes and make crazy choices, just to see how it affects your story. Accept some, delete others. But most of all, I learned that I need to keep writing. Good days are often just around the corner. But if I stop entirely and walk away, I would never see them.
I’d love to hear about your stumbles and bad days. How did you overcome them? Let me know.