Writing Update – April 2020

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It has been a long time.

It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog post or anything at all. To be honest, the reason I took such a long break from this blog was because I was too embarrassed to admit I had stopped writing. I had created this blog to document the writing process of my first novel, and there wasn’t even a novel anymore!

A long time ago, when I was doing research on publishing novels, I received advice that the first novel I write should be one I don’t care about, due to how unlikely it was to get published on the first try. So when considering the plot of my first novel, I kept that advice in mind. I started to plan a “starter” novel, with an idea that I could work with but that I wasn’t passionate about at all.

But the problem with not being passionate about an idea is that it became almost impossible to write. It was like pulling teeth – trying to figure out characterization, trying to outline plots and subplots and finding a way to weave them together. Nothing came naturally, everything felt like a chore and I simply did not have a desire to keep working on it. I did though, because I told myself I had to. I had to get this first novel written and out of the way so I could move onto the ideas that actually cared about.

Until I couldn’t anymore. All of a sudden, in the midst of dragging my feet to get this idea to work, another one popped into my head. And while I should’ve been focusing on writing the first chapter of my novel, I was suddenly consumed with the plot and characters of a completely different story. The characters spoke to me in a different way. I fleshed out their backstories on a scribbled notepad at my desk when I should’ve been working. I sprung from my bed in the middle of the night to write down plot ideas in my notes app before I fell asleep and forgot them in the morning. This new idea of mine was developing without me even trying. I couldn’t stop the sudden ambush if I tried.   

And yet, I did try. Save it for your second novel! I kept reminding myself. Don’t waste this great idea on your “starter” novel! But the more alive my second idea became, the less interesting my original –now partially abandoned—novel felt. I had to be honest with myself finally.  The truth was, I would never finish any novel if I didn’t allow myself to follow the idea that I felt truly drawn to.

Yes, it was frustrating scrapping nearly a year’s worth of work. But the feeling of starting to expand on my second idea, and dive even deeper into planning the characters and the plot made the wasted work feel worth it. It took me just about a month to plan what had taken me six months to plan the first time. And the best part? I was excited again! I couldn’t wait to get home to have free time to develop and explore the characters that had been bouncing around in my mind for months. I was even inspired to write out scenes from their backstory, that no one would ever even see but me. I wanted to learn everything about these new characters, wanted to watch how they responded to every different conflict I threw at them. Every part of this plotting process finally felt right.

What I’m really hoping to get across in this writing update is that it’s ok to admit when something is just not working. I know it’s hard to feel like you wasted your own time, but now on the other side, I can tell you it’s so much more rewarding to let go of an idea that you’re struggling with. Writing can be hard, but it shouldn’t be impossible.

With that being said, my writing update is I am essentially back at square one in my novel writing process. However, instead of feeling set back, I feel even closer to my goal than ever.  

Now, I’ve got a story to write!

CURRENTLY READING: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling – I have been itching to re-read my old Harry Potter collection. I haven’t read all the way through the series since I was in high school – can you believe that! And since we’re all quarantined, now seems like the best time to devote to my old favorites.

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