Writing Update: Autumn 2019

I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus these past months, so to relaunch, I have a writing update for you all! I’ll mostly be talking about my longstanding project, fantasy novel The Secrets The Dead Keep but if you scroll down, you’ll also find sections on my plans for other fiction and this blog.

Continue reading “Writing Update: Autumn 2019”

May Writing Update

In January, I set myself monthly writing goals to keep me on-track with my novel-in-progress The Secrets The Dead Keep. I finished Draft Three back in April, and my goal for May was to start discussions and feedback with critique partners (assuming I have found suitable critique partners). Continue reading “May Writing Update”

2017 Writing Goals

For some reason, I completely forgot about New Year’s Resolutions for this year until someone asked me what mine were on New Year’s Day. I hadn’t thought about it at all – their existence just completely slipped my mind. Still, it wasn’t at all difficult to come up with an answer. I’ve made so much writing progress recently, and I really want that to continue. So, I decided that I want 2017 to be the year that I get truly serious about writing.

Since planning rather than ‘pantsing’ my novel seems to have gone pretty well, I thought I’d try the same for my writing life! So without further ado, here are my monthly writing goals for 2017:

Continue reading “2017 Writing Goals”

The Writing Process: A Guide For Non-Writers – Part Three

So by now we’ve gotten to the point in the writing process where you’ve written a book. Congratulations! But your work is far from done.
I feel like people with no writing experience see this as the end point. You’ve written a first draft, therefore you’ve written a book, right? What people forget is that things hardly ever turn out right first time. If you read Part Two of my writing process series (discussing the writing of the first draft), you’ll understand the extent of this and the reasoning behind it. Even if you outlined your book in great detail, there is no guarantee that you won’t change things halfway through, or that you will be happy with the book that your outline produced. And of course, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll be happy with the actual writing. Every writer has their flaws: some of us ‘underwrite’, some of us ‘overwrite’, and we all have words and phrases that we use far too often. The first draft is just a foundation for all the good things to come later, and it may need fixing before you can even do that.
So once you’ve finished your first draft, it’s time to edit.

Writer’s Block

Recently I started sending chapters of my novel to a group of people I call my Guinea Pigs. In actuality, these are just my closest friends – the people I trust the most and feel most comfortable sharing my work with at this stage. However, it’s not easy, and for me, this editing seems to have brought on what many people refer to as writer’s block.
But before I get into that, let’s see where I’m at with this novel of mine. I did, miraculously, manage to complete Camp NaNoWriMo this past July (see my stats here), but in doing so I did not get anywhere near finishing the first draft of my sequel. I got so stuck with it that I decided it would be both easier and more beneficial for my writing if I were to instead write the second draft of my first draft (also my laptop spent six days out of my reach having a virus removed, so by the time I got it back, I had to write FAST, which I really couldn’t do with the amount of inspiration I was getting for the sequel). So, at the end of July’s Camp NaNoWriMo, I had a complete mess of a beginning of a sequel, and the first four chapters of the second draft of the first book.
Since then, I have edited the prologue plus one of those first four chapters and sent both off to my Guinea Pigs. After editing Chapter One about a week ago, however, I got writer’s block.
I say that like it struck me like lightning and I had to spend the week in bed with flu-like symptoms because of it. Of course, that is not the case. Writer’s block is not a disease; it affects different writers in different ways and for different reasons, and it won’t even be the same for each writer every time they get it. See this tumblr post for more on this.
In the past, I’ve had writer’s block from simply being uninspired. This time, though, it was decidedly anxiety-induced.
After sending Chapter One out to my Guinea Pigs, I started editing Chapter Two, but I couldn’t finish for the feeling of impending doom lying heavy on my shoulders. It suddenly struck me just how long a project this was, and how serious it was getting: I was writing draft two, and sending it out for other people to read! It is very rare for me to ever have finished a writing project, and I’ve certainly never gone back and completely rewritten one before, so this is the closest I’ve ever been to having a manuscript that is ready to send out to agents. This thought brought on even more fear: if I can’t deal with having my closest friends reading my writing, how will I ever be able to cope with getting anything published? What if I can’t achieve my lifelong dream?
It didn’t really help that I can be a bit of a perfectionist, and was worrying over whether any of this was worth my time anyway if it would never be perfect. Just thinking of continuing writing makes me want to hide from the world and all my responsibilities.
I decided the best way to overcome this was to take a break for a few days, and not force myself to write when I felt unable to do so. I’ve ended up consciously taking over a week off from writing my novel (I say “consciously” because often I just won’t find time to write for this length of time or longer). On one hand, I could say that it has worked: when I do think about it (no use thinking about something that makes you feel like crap, right?), I feel a little better about it, and I have started writing again. On the other hand, what I have been writing is not my novel, and even if it was, this would definitely not be a permanent solution. The anxiety only comes back and then I’d have to take another break lasting a week or two. It could take years to get this novel done in this way, never mind its sequels.

Another potential solution is outlined in this tumblr post. I don’t think the problem described by the anonymous user who sent in the question is quite the same as mine, but it’s similar enough that it’s worth a try. The advice suggests asking yourself a few questions about your writing whose answers are meant to encourage you and rekindle a bit of self-belief. I think my answers to these questions are certainly something I need to remember whenever I feel discouraged about my writing: yes, I enjoy writing, therefore no, I do not think it’s a waste of time. That reminder that I’m writing this more for my own pleasure than for a future career might be just what I need to get me out of my writer’s block.

The Secrets The Writer Keeps

Several months and a sneaky blog-title change later, I’m finally posting an update! It’s currently one week until my last exam, and therefore one week until my summer begins (I don’t understand how quickly first year went!). I haven’t managed to write much recently (whether it’s true or not, I blame studying), but I’m looking forward to writing more over summer. I also hope to start posting on here again, so here are a few updates!

  • I set myself a few writing goals and put them up on my wardrobe:
  • Therefore I will be spending June writing my second draft, July taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo to get the first draft of Book 2 started, and August finishing Book 2.
  • Over the past few weeks and months, I’ve mostly been fleshing out the world in which my story is set, planning my second draft (from big plot changes to tiny details) and attempting to write a new beginning. Since I decided to write a new prologue and move the old one into the first chapter, “writing” for me has pretty much become synonymous with “writing and rewriting the new prologue”.
  • I have received detailed feedback from one of the two people who have read the first draft of Book 1, and hope to receive more feedback from the second. Already I’ve found that even getting just one outside opinion is incredibly helpful: it helps me to see things from my reader’s point of view, to see what works and what doesn’t, which details need to be toned down and which need to be made more obvious, and see problems and characterisation flaws that I wouldn’t have noticed (for example, I tried to make my main character grumpy-but-lovable, and instead it just resulted in her being slightly unlikable and difficult to relate to).
I plan on posting mostly progress reports on my writing here, perhaps along with a few other things, however I’m not currently sure what. Nevertheless, I shall endeavour to at least post something in the near future.

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