Happiness, Journal

I used to be a glass-half-empty kind of person, but that’s changed over the years.  Sometimes I still struggle to maintain positivity, but today it’s sunny outside, the cherry blossoms are blooming, and my dear husband E is finally home from his trip. It’s a good day.

In the spirit of positivity, here are a few quotes that can apply to writing as well as life:

ADVICE TO A NEW WRITER: There are no rules in this profession. Do what is good for you. Read books and watch films that stimulate your writing. In your writing, go where the pain is; go where the pleasure is; go where the excitement is. Believe in your own original approach, voice, characters, story. Ignore critics. HAVE NERVE. BE STUBBORN.
~ Anne Rice

(The Olympian Creed) Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.
~ Thomas Carlyle

There’s a word for a writer who never gives up… published.
~ Joe Konrath

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
~ Jack London

I sense a theme… maybe it’s due to where I am in the writing process, which is at the beginning of a very long road. Though if I think about it, I have really just have two personal motto’s when it comes to writing: there’s always more to learn, and write honestly. Writing honestly is easier said than done.



So, I’m writing a novel. I’ve hit 78000 words, which is about 60% of my first draft. It’s been exhausting, it’s been exhilarating, and I’ve discovered my mind doesn’t work the way I expected.

At first outlining seemed like a very sensible thing. It was the way I’d always gone about writing academic papers. It would make the writing go faster, right?

I dug through my files and found an old novel outline. It was fleshed out chapter by chapter, scene by scene. I also had a folder full of character notes, settings, names, and family charts to go with it. It was a perfectly decent story, but I never got farther than the first 6 chapters. The actual writing process became so boring I couldn’t stand to finish the story.

So 78k words later, what worked this time? I discovered I’m a hybrid plotter-panster. I need an outline that lists key scenes and the climax of the novel. I need a direction to write in, but I also I need enough room to let my imagination run freely.

I also realized I don’t need to write linearly. When I’ve hit a wall, I’ve tried moving on to other scenes that I knew had to be written. From those points I could progress logically backwards. If you’ve never tried working backwards from the end of your novel, you should try it. It’s a mental workout.

Writing fast also works for me. I’ve been writing at a pace of roughly 1000 words a day. The result is a first-draft-in-progress that is a complete mess. It’s full of inconsistencies, gaps, and “insert name” placeholders. It’s taken all of my willpower to stop from going back to rewrite.

But, this fear of bad writing is the main reason that my previous novel writing attempts were unsuccessful. I have a folder stuffed full of novel beginnings that lack an ending. How many times have you re-written that first chapter of yours? hmm?

I’ve never gotten anywhere near this far along in a novel in the past, and I know that I can finish this one.

I feel that this first draft is the basic shape I need before I can add in the details. I’m looking forward to the edits and the polishing. I’ve always used this method when working with paint or clay, why wouldn’t it also apply to the way I write? Why didn’t I realize this a long time ago?

I’m still learning how the creative parts of my brain work.

Have you discovered something that surprised you while you were writing?