Friday, 16 February 2018

Getting Back to Writing



I have wanted to be a published author for almost as long as I can remember. I have been writing potential books for years, first during school and then a smaller amount during university. When I finished university, I said to myself that I would dedicate most of my time and energy to finishing a novel and trying to get it published. Mental health issues and work interfered. Again, I tried but I found myself feeling stressed and anxious about having to write the next day and reaching a certain word count. I tried different ways of measuring progress: word count, time spent on writing and just writing anything but nothing stuck. Then I realised: writing is meant to be fun, yes, it is hard work but I don’t want to be spending my time feeling stressed and anxious about something that I am supposed to love. So, I took a break. I ended up starting this blog which I absolutely love and I believe that it is one of the best decisions that I have ever made.

After about a month of not working on my novel at all, I started to feel like planning. I had about half of a first draft and I knew the main points of the plot but when I sat down to write I struggled to write much because I did not know exactly what was going to happen. When I have the scene outlined or in my head, I can just sit down and the words can flow. So, I decided to work out a more comprehensive outline. I had some cue cards that I had bought for outlining before so I picked them up and titled each one with each location that I knew the characters would be going to. Then I added some plot details: significant things that I knew were going to happen there and I started bullet pointing each step in the scene that I was currently on. I moved the scenes around until the order clicked in my mind and I could see the entire plot. These cards are now on my wall and it is amazing to see the rest of my novel up there.

Instead of trying to write every day or reach particular word counts, I think that the best thing for me is to write when I feel like it. It may take longer to finish my novel or it may take the same amount of time given that my routines never worked for long but I will enjoy the journey far more. It may take one year or five to finish my novel and although I do want to get my stories out into the world, I also want to enjoy life and making a passion into a chore is just not for me.

I think that once I have finished one novel, I will find it easier to write the next one and that I will write it more quickly. After all, improvement is about practice and I cannot wait to write down all of the stories that fill my heart and mind.

How do you write? Have you ever taken a break from writing?

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2 comments:

  1. I can relate: I've always wanted to be a published author but I've always been held back by either a lack of confidence or anxiety/stress or even work and struggling to find the time.
    I have unfinished stories and novels I have given up on and I kept saying every year that I'd be more productive.
    I read a book saying you should have writing goals and I've read advice saying write everyday but all this just added to my anxiety.
    I think it's important to find what works for you and if you are an anxious person then take that into account or get help.
    I am doing better with my writing, I always felt like such a failure because I have nothing to show for my ambition, but I started my novel last year and it's going ok. I've had to stop and work on typing my hand written pages up this week and I've finally started rewriting another short story. I do have a goal of 2,000 words a week but it's my choice because if I meet it I feel like i'm being productive. I hoped to finish if before the summer but I need to remember not to put too much pressure on myself and enjoy writing. Sometimes I feel guilty if I don't write -like today- but breaks are important, giving the brain a break can make it suddenly creative the next day, so I recommend a break to anyone who is stuck for whatever reason.
    I'm not a planner, I've tried planning but I've realised that I am a discovery writer. The story unfolds as I write and a scene idea may come up as I go, also I don't write in order.
    I am finally feeling happy with myself and proud for my writing, I know I will finish this one, I don't have that anxious feeling and fear that I will stop and it will be another unfinished novel. I do worry when I'm stuck, like now, and I have anxious concerns about my writing but I'm trying to stop worrying and just let it be, it will all work out. And I feel guilty when I'm not writing but need to let myself take a break!
    Anxiety can still get in the way, or more accurately my brain gets tired and I'm fighting to get the words out but I am doing so well.
    I wonder how my writers out there have also struggled with anxiety and how they deal with it?

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    1. I feel the same. I'm glad that you've found something that works for you and doesn't make you feel anxious, that's awesome! It sounds like you're in quite a good place with your writing anxiety.

      I feel like writers don't really talk about it enough, it would be helpful if authors could provide advice about how they've dealt with it.

      I think I feel quite productive with my writing at the moment because I'm working on my blog too.

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