Today's question is: How can you get over the feeling that what you are doing just isn't good enough to publish? I tend to get bogged down rewriting the first few chapters until I lose all momentum for my first draft. On my current project, I'm trying to just write the story all the way through without letting myself revise, but I wonder if that is the correct way to go about it.
A few authors answer that question!
Stephanie Higgins: If you ever figure this one out, you can write a book for Writers' Digest and probably never have to work again :-).
An Idea: When you sense this is happening skip ahead to another scene anywhere in the book that you are excited about writing. . .and work on that to refresh yourself mentally.
I don't think there is a "correct" way to write. There is YOUR way and the way that works for you. . . and it sometimes takes a while for a writer to figure this out. And then sometimes what works for one book doesn't work for another and once again, you find a way to make it work. I believe there are as many ways to write a book as there are published writers. We are individuals with different creative gifts and those gifts organize and realize themselves differently. I love Randy Ingermanson's writing, but even thinking about a snowflake makes me want to run screaming the other way.
Sharon Dunn: Great question, been there, done that. The biggest challenge writers face is not learning how to plot or create a character, but learning how to quiet the editor in our head. You know, that voice that says we are not good enough to write a book. Part of the problem is that we as writers have a vision in our head of how we “see” our book. What ends up on the page rarely matches the vision and that is what causes us to think what we wrote isn’t publishable. Most writers have to work toward that vision through rewriting.
First of all, turn off the editor by giving yourself permission to write a less than perfect draft with the understanding that you know you can go back and fix what is not working. My rough draft is a mess. All I am trying to do is get the big scenes in place and because I write mysteries I also have to make sure the clues are in the right place. Once I have scenes in place, I have something to work with. It is not until later drafts that description improves and character motives are clarified and bridge scenes are written. In that early draft, I make notes to myself in bold that says stuff like need more research here, better description, would this character really do that? My favorite thing that I write is, "ick this is not working" or "blah blah blah". I give myself daily page requirements. I only go back and revise if the plot stalls out so badly I can’t move forward.
This method may work with you and it may not. There is no correct way to write a book. All that matters is what the end product looks like. One thing that helped me was I read articles and books about how other writers worked and tried out different things. Adopting some advice and dismissing other things because it didn’t fit my personality. I use a journal where I write about my frustration and fear and brainstorm what needs to happen next. The journal sits beside my lap top. I write long hand rather than journal on the computer something about writing sloppy long hand frees ups creativity.
Take whatever advice I have given and see if it works for you. Throw out what doesn’t work. You’ll figure it out. Happy writing.
Author of Death of a Garage Sale Newbie
Deb Raney: Well, I’m working on Novel #17 and I still have that feeling with every book Usually after I’ve done the rewrite using my editor’s suggestions I begin to feel like there might be hope, but until the reviews start coming in, I always fear each book is the one that will end my career. My writing style is to write a few pages, go back and edit, write a few more, go back and read from page 1, write some more, etc. leap-frogging my way through the book editing as I go. But I’ve learned there comes a point where I have to quit going back to the very beginning or I’ll never finish. So once you’ve polished five chapters or ten chapters, move on and don’t look back until you’ve polished the next five. Then do a couple of final read-throughs, layering in new things you’ve learned about your characters and strengthening your plot and setting. I think that will keep your momentum going.
NEW! from Howard Books/Simon & Schuster: REMEMBER TO FORGET
Now updated and expanded: A VOW TO CHERISH (Steeple Hill Books)
The novel that inspired the award-winning film from World Wide Pictures
Visit my Web site at: http://www.deborahraney.com