Figuring out this whole writing process thing the second time around

August 20, 2014 Writing  No comments

I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.  Saul Bass

My first novel came out two months ago, and after a short (shorter than I intended anyways, because I was going fucking insane) hiatus, I am starting my next project. And now that I’ve been through the ringer once, I’m trying something different this time …

The first time around I reworked the draft as I went. If I wrote a chapter a week, I would write the first half one day. The next day I’d come back and reread and rework that material before devising new material. And then the next day I would rework that. I was continuously reworking as I wrote. I enjoyed this process, honestly.

But this time, I think I’m gonna try to hold back on the reworking as I write. This time, I’m going to try to write a pretty fresh rough draft without going back through it. I am going to just enjoy writing to write, writing to get that story out on the paper in it’s purest, shittiest form. It will be a true first rough-draft. Then I can rework from there on a second draft. Maybe there will be something to be gained from waiting through the whole project, getting to the end, before editing. We shall see.

A year ago, when I was working on my first novel, I felt like I was drowning. I was overwhelmed, pushing myself way past my limits, and anxious beyond compare because I had no idea what  the fuck I was doing, and honestly, I felt that I had something to prove. So I struggled with my schedule, wrangling with it and reworking it again and again until I found something that fit. I felt immensely guilty if I didn’t fill some made-up quota in my head (5 hours a day minimum, I said to myself). I felt guilty when I indulged in a novel or TV or when I meandered around Pintrest or got lost in YouTube land. Because everyone else in the world was being so much more productive than I was.

I’ve since learned.

As for the process …
I’ve learned that those tangents and days of indulging in watching TV or obsessively reading a novel are absolutely NECESSARY to my process. I wouldn’t be able to create the things I do without those creative inputs. A perfect example: my character Samara in The Charm Necklace. I knew I needed her. I knew I needed her to be uniquely awesome, but I had no details. One fateful snowy day in February while watching The Vampire Diaries (oh, Stephan. swoon.) on Netflix, huddled under blankets in my theater-room basement, she came to me fully formed. Case in point: I’ve learned (kind-of, still working on it) that indulging in fiction sparks my creative process. I’m trying not to fight it as much.

As for the actual writing …
I’ve learned a lot from my first novel, things I will apply to my next project, and hopefully, streamline the process a little more so I’m not floundering about every which way. I’ve learned about plot and structure, characterization and character arcs. I’ve learned about upping the stakes and creating more tension. I’ve learned about the actual publishing process of designing a cover and formatting an interior. I’ve learned that those days I struggle so hard to write that it feels like I’m drawing blood, where I feel like what I wrote is absolute crap and feel like a horrible, no-good writer, actually turns out to be some of my best, rawest material. I’ve learned that maybe I work best at one, maybe two if I’m feeling ambitious, hours a day. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and I’m still tired from the first one. All this, I hope, means I won’t go through quite as many drafts as I did the first time around.

I feel that I am off to a much better start now, than I was before. My character sheets are much more detailed. Instead of just being names, they are living, breathing entities who I just happen to be lucky enough to hang out with every day and chronicle their journeys. My outline is more specific, with plot-points and scenes that actually need to be there. This story has been marinating in my mind for about a year. I can smell, taste, see, hear, and, most importantly, feel it. I know the mood. I know the setting. It’s a place I’ve visited often in the past few months and now get to take residence of for the next … year? two years? who the hell knows? Because I’m not rushing this one.

I refuse to buy into the lie that more is better. That production = success. That my worth is based on how much I put out. No, my worth – creatively – is about the quality of my work. About how much passion it stirred up in me while writing it. And hopefully, about the passion readers feel as well.

On top of all of this, I’ve learned that I am just a person. I may be a writer. I may be artistic and creative and see things where others don’t see anything. I may have this compulsive need to get this world inside my head out on paper. But I’m still a person who has a life and a family and interests and hobbies outside of writing. It’s time for me to stop thinking and talking about balancing my writing with my life, and actually just do it already.

 

What can I tell you about my next project?
I can tell you that it’s New Adult Contemporary Romance.
I can tell you it’s set in Southeastern Michigan – Harper Woods and Roseville, namely.
I can tell you that it will be a different form of dark and edgy than The Charm Necklace. Think a bit more urban. Industrial, even.
I can tell you that Jamie, the main female protagonist, is a brown-eyed brunette who wears black moto boots. And that Collin, the main male protagonist, wears a navy blue Carhartt jacket.
I can tell you that the book is in alternating first person POV from both Jamie and Collin.

That’s all I can tell you for now.

Until next time, farewell, and may your life never cease to be filled with wonder and curiosity.

 

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