I started writing a new book last week.
I was both really excited and really nervous about it. Excited because working on the outline for the novel helped me figure out a lot of details and really understand the story that I want to tell, not to mention the characters who are going to be living through it. I think this is a controversial story, as far as how well people might like it (it’s a tragedy, after all). but it’s still an idea that’s been stuck in my head for a while, so I want to give it a shot. Nervous because it’s been almost a year since I’ve written anything that’s a novel-length work. After being in a rut for so long, it’s been hard to get back into the swing of things again.
Which became even more evident after I started writing again.
I wrote twice last week. Once, last Monday, I believe. I had mapped out some time–two hours each day–where I would dedicate to writing. The goal being at least an hour, but having two mapped out, in case something got in the way and I couldn’t write or I was on a roll and wanted to write longer. So I sat down and started writing.
After roughly an hour and a half, I got 400 words written.
Not bad, really. But I wasn’t feeling it, afterwards. I felt like the words were shit and everything I was doing was wrong. As such, the rest of the week, I kept finding other things to do during the time I blocked out to write, whether it was blogging or reading or emails or figuring out what I want to buy everyone for Christmas. It was obvious I was avoiding opening up that document, because it just felt like shit.
Then, on Thursday, I forced myself to continue working (with a little help from an empty To-Do list).
By the end of the night, I had almost 4,000 words.
Granted, about half of those were recycled from the project that I scrapped that this one is being fleshed out from; same generally premise, only a lot better and more detailed, with different characters and conflict. But I was trying to rewrite a scene that I had the general bone structure for in a previous book. So, I decided to copy that scene over and see if it still fit, with a little more fine tuning.
It took a lot of fine tuning, but I cannot describe how great that felt, writing that night. Not only did I get the first chapter written, but I also discovered that my character has a little bit of snark to him that I wasn’t expecting. And that’s going to have some interesting consequences for the novel and how it plays out.
Writing like that? It was like waking up after a really long nap. Or stretching out and preparing to go for a run after not being able to for months. The muscles I used to hone daily were sore and a little out of shape, but they were still there. They still worked. They just needed a little more encouragement, is all.
How interesting, then, that after a busy weekend, when I finally have time to write again this week, that I’m suddenly apprehensive again; that I’m looking through my fresh To-Do List and trying to decide what I can do first, instead of writing. Those nerves have crept up again, that doubt always lingering attempting to make itself cozy in the forefront of my mind.
I need to do two things:
- Stop thinking about publishing. I keep thinking, as I’m writing, about this book’s future. Is it marketable? Will agents like it? How will reader’s response? Is it good enough to query? Yet the plain truth is, none of those questions matter–hell, none of the answers to those questions matter–if the book itself doesn’t get written. I can’t do anything with a blank page. I can’t sell a story that hasn’t been written yet.
- Just write. I just need to write the damn thing. If this draft sucks? So what? If this story never gets published? So what? If no one ever reads it but me? Yeah, so what? Even if this story “goes nowhere,” I’ll still learn a lot by writing it. It’s still a story I really want to tell. It’s probably the most challenging thing I’ve written so far and something I really want to figure out. So I’m going to write it and, if it gets published in the future, fantastic. If it doesn’t, it’s still not a waste of my time and right now, the only audience that matters is me.
*tries to think of a clever way to end this post, but fails, so decides to do this instead, so she can actually go write and try and meet her word count goal for the day*