This book is writing itself. This is what I tell me who ask me how the book is coming along. This book is writing itself, for really and truly. While it may not always feel good to write from a place that hurts, it is pretty easy, at least for me. Some days come as more challenging, but that is mostly due to motivation. Honestly, weather affects my writing dramatically. If it’s dreary or rainy, writing is hard because that tends to be Netflix and chill weather. But for the most part, this book is coming along rather nicely. The one thing that I knew from the beginning would be a struggle is my war with editing.
Writing the first draft is supposed to be just that. Just writing. Nothing else. And as such, it’s supposed to suck. My first draft is not formatted correctly through and through. It’s not appropriately spaced at all. And I’m using the wrong font and the wrong font size. But the goal for the first draft is to simply write it. To get all the words in the right places. To realize the plot and characters and take the story from the beginning through the rising action to the climax back down to the falling action, and finally come to a banging conclusion. Beginning. Middle. End. That’s it! But I’m Robin and I am a type-A, semi-control freak who is very meticulous about pretty much everything. And this book is no exception. And in the last few days while writing, I have found myself battling against the need to edit and add in ideas as I write. I believe it has added to the depth of my story (for example, I’ve given my main character, Elle, a diagnosis and a fascination with clocks) but if I’m not careful, I fear I could either lose myself in a side story or convoluted the story with too many minor details that are not pertinent to Elle’s journey.
Allow me to share some of the lessons I’m learning as I reach the 21k word point.
- KISS. Keep it simple, storyteller. I love imagery. I think it can make or break a story, especially because the majority of us are visual people. But it’s important to avoid loading a story with too much imagery because it can distract from the story you want to tell. Know when to add just enough imagery to tease the imagination but not too much so that the reader becomes too overwhelmed to really enjoy the book.
- Just Write. This is the best thing I can say because it really is as simple as that. Just write. Don’t concern yourself with the particulars of how something might sound or look. The first draft is simply the canvass that brings your idea to life. Have fun with it!
- Find your inspiration and have it with you at all times. Inspiration is everywhere, and once you find it, you should keep it with you to resort to when you might feel discouraged or not motivated to go on. I find that Pinterest is great for this. My inspiration ranges from real life experiences and feelings, to people I know, to quotes and books I’ve read, and music that I listen to. I have created playlists for each of my characters and for my book that I have listened to on repeat for about a month now, and I add relevant pins on my Pinterest board for reference. Don’t be afraid to find inspiration everywhere you go.
- Do. Not. Edit. At least for right now. Just write the first draft. Don’t worry about the mistakes you make as you type or write because the second phase of the book writing process will be all about that. Also, it pays to have a second set of eyes look over your work once you complete that first draft. But for right now, don’t get carried away with the editing. That time will come.
- Stay organized and keep your focus. I find that I get easily distracted which can cause me to become overwhelmed quickly if I’m not careful. It’s important to have at least most of your ducks in a row when sitting down to write. For my first novel, I created an outline to allow me to visually see how my story could progress and then find ways to help it progress more efficiently. I also always have a journal present while I write in case I wanted to write an idea down that could be used either in a previous section already written or in a future part of the story. Also, I like to grab my favorite snack and make sure my water bottle is plenty filled so that I do not have to stop midway through my writing sprint for the day to re hydrate. Finally, I prefer to find a quiet place to write, which is usually my living room, although I’ve written in the bedroom and even at a Panera Bread. The important thing to be sure that wherever you choose to write, you are able to focus on the task at hand. Sometimes it pays to write in a public place because it gives you an opportunity to observe people as they naturally are which can be a benefit to adding meaningful action and dialogue to your story.
Perhaps the most important thing I can say that I’ve learned from this experience so far is to relax. I think most people make writing a lot more than what it is. And while the business aspect of turning writing into a profitable career can be a little intimidating, the art itself is something to be enjoyed, purely for the freedom of it all, save some trademarked stuff. Writing this book is probably one of the most freeing things I have done in a really long time. And although I was afraid of telling this story, I have found that giving it a voice has been quite therapeutic for me. This is a tough story to tell because it has evoked, and will continue to evoke some painful realities and some hard regrets, as well as the fear of a life lost. Some days are good ones, while others are not so great. But all in all, I am truly enjoy this experience, even on the days when the words come with a little more difficulty.
See you at 40K!