It comes and goes but most of the time I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall. I’m stuck. The story is there but it won’t come out. I try to force it and nothing happens. Write, I say. Just write. Whatever comes out, let it out. Just let the words come out even if they are awful and nonsensical and don’t get me anywhere.
The worst of it is, I know where I want this novel to go. I have it planned out. I have a very loose outline that tells me that, barring any unforeseen character actions, I have 10 scenes left to write at about 1,500 words each. That’s 15,000 words which puts me at my ultimate word count goal of about 75,000 words. I wrote 50,000 words in one month last November and I can’t write 15,000 words right now.
Maybe I’m looking at it too clinically. Maybe I’m being too pragmatic. As I’ve said before, I’ve never been the type of writer to outline. Outlines make me feel claustrophobic, boxed in. Outlines kill my writing. That’s what I did here, I know it. But I thought I had to. I want to finish this book. I thought if I just gave myself a deadline – March 31 according to my day planner – then I’d be able to complete the draft. I need to complete this draft.
I’m tired of feeling stuck. Stuck not only in my writing but in my life. I know that plans don’t ever go the way we anticipate them to, but I guess I thought I’d be published by now. I thought that I’d have an agent and a book deal and a book on the shelves at the local bookstore and library. I’m tired of writing and failing again and again.
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I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Everything points to the fact that I could have had this novel finished by April 1 and now April 1 is tomorrow and I’m not going to have it done.
The editing is done. By hand, at least. I have one chapter edited that still needs to be transferred to the computer. I’m still missing two scenes and need to finish two other scenes. And for the last month I simply haven’t done it. I don’t even have any excuses. I’ve had the time. I know what to write. It’s not like I have to invent the scenes or figure out where they go. I know all of this.
I just haven’t written them.
That’s not entirely true. I started the “Grand Canyon scene” and have two pages filled in my Moleskine, written over two different writing sessions. I also started to finish the awkward car scene this morning (fittingly) in the car via Google Voice which is always hilarious. (A good example is that I said “geocache” and it translated it to “AG of hash”.)
(Update: After writing and scheduling this post, I hunkered down and crunched out the rest of the awkward car scene in the car again. Still have to edit away Google Voice’s hilarious translation, but that at least leaves me with 1 1/2 or 2/12 scenes left, depending on what I end up with…)
But that’s it. I need to write less than 3,000 words and I’m coming up relatively empty.
So I ask again: what is wrong with me?
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I can’t tell if I’m doing good or not.
- I made my word count goal (70K words), but haven’t finished draft one.
- I wrote the final scene, but didn’t complete all the ones before it.
- I “red-penned” and revised chapters 1-4, but the rest of the first draft is still up for grabs.
But the biggest takeaway there is that I’m not actually finished with my first draft. I think I have about three scenes left to write. I know, for certain, about one of them. I’ve imagined it and re-imagined it in my head a few times. But I haven’t put it down on paper. I keep thinking that I should, but I don’t. I don’t know why. This is why I said I can’t tell if I’m doing good or not.
Because in the past few days, I took a purple pen and did a heck of a lot of overhauling of chapters one and two, based on some great feedback from my writing group. This included changing my main character’s motivation (to a point), well, expanding on it. That new motivation is going to have to carry through the rest of the novel, which means I foresee a lot more scratch outs and rewrites in the near future.
I have a few observations about this point in the WIP process, many of which are pretty defeatist, but isn’t that usually where a writer’s at near the end of draft one?
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