Last time on Work in progress: I finally found a way to wedge my butt in the chair!
I wrote through, just like Nino said.
In the years previous, I’d tried a number of different tactics: outlining, character sketches, plotlines for the major characters, world building, timeline, research. None of it got me writing … like writing.
I’d always heard that if you want to write, then write. I’d even said it to students. It’s true, but you have to be ready to see the truth, to accept it fully, and live it. After years of struggling with my inner critic, informed as it was with all of my weaknesses and doubts, all my past experiences … I finally got it. I finally wrote.
I’d never gotten past the first hundred pages before. They were written and rewritten many times, but I’d never gotten past them. This time, I tried a new strategy: ctrl-g 🙂 I’d note the page I stopped on, and went right to it the next day. Starting from the beginning every day merely trapped me in an endless loop of editing. Another authorial truism: the work is never finished, only abandoned. The first draft isn’t the time to tweak and fine-tune, it’s the time to get the words out.
By September of 2008, I’d written my way to 1000 pages. It was scary, and exhilarating. Then it was called Initiate of Wind. As a reward, I treated myself to a writing workshop with Sue Harrison at the W.O.W Retreat in Bruce Mines. Loved it, loved it, loved it! Watch Authorial name dropping for my post on the lovely Sue 🙂
I’d started out writing the novel as I’d intended, changing point of view in sections, cycling between the major characters. Then, some of the plot points started to change as I wrote. New sections wanted to be included. New characters. Toward the end, I was working on fumes and dropped all the fancy stuff. The last three chapters were written in the same p.o.v. I just got the words out. All of them, good or bad, were out.
My refractory period was the renovation of my office. Five weeks of nothing but physical work: demolition, insulation, vapor barrier, mudding, sanding, painting, floor refinishing, and furnishing.
At the end of it, I had a room of my own. An office. A place to write. I think that helped me to keep at the writing too, but by then, I’d been writing every day for two years, so I guess the office was a kind of reward too.
Then it was back to real life, back to work, and back to writing.
What I learned: Write. The first draft is no place for revision. Write. Commit to your relationship with your creativity, and you will go back to it, every day. Write. Just write.
Have you completed the first draft of a novel? What did it teach you and how did you feel? What did you do to reward yourself/celebrate?