Monday, 23 April 2007

Novel Progress - 1/3 written! (and how I deal with writers' block)

Well I've got no idea how it happened (apart from me putting my fingers to the keys and pressing, obviously) but I managed to write over 2,200 words tonight!

I've now written 30,118 words which means I've written over 1/3 of my novel. OHMYGOD.

I only have to write twice as much as I've written already and then I'll have finished it! OHMYGOD (more of a scary exclamation this time).

Still a lot to do then.

It's strange - I thought I'd be the sort of novelist that savoured every word, that actively enjoyed putting fingers to keyboard but it turns out I'm not. I'm desperate to type THE END. That's not to say that I'm not enjoying it (I am, mostly) and the 2,200 words I wrote tonight appeared because I was really enjoying the scene I was writing and they just flowed - BUT - that's quite unusual.

I'd say about half the words I've written so far have flowed easily and the other half have been a bit of a slog. I think the thing is I'm desperate to get to the really exciting bit which happens, I'm guessing, about 60,000 words in when the crises hit desperation point and my poor MC is really struggling (does that make me a sadist?). It's also because I very much feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants and it's weird knowing I'm not 100% sure what happens between 30,000 and 60,000 words (does that make me a control freak?). I also want to be able to pat myself on the back for, for the first time, actually finishing a novel.

Plotting eight scenes (and then adding on a few more as I write the earlier scenes) is definitely helping me motor on. It seems writers' block only happens when four things occur:
  1. I don't know what happens next and I'm stuck
  2. I get a rejection (from a sub or a competition) which makes me doubt how good a writer I am
  3. I read a fantastically good novel/short story and it makes me doubt how good a writer I am
  4. I read online how hard it is to get published and assume that I will be one of the many never-published

Okay, so number 1) can be solved - by forward plotting.

As for 2) I guess the answer is 'don't send anything out' but then I wouldn't get any acceptances which make me think I can write and cheers me up enormously.

For number 3) the answer is not to read anything good (actually I started reading a chick-lit book at the weekend which was fantastically bad and made me feel soooo much better about my writing. Maybe that's the answer?)

And number 4)? Simple - stop reading online articles about publishing until I'm all done.

One thing I've found that really helps (with 2-4) is to tell myself 'I'm writing this for me. I'm just writing it to prove to myself that I can finish a novel. That's the main reason why I'm writing it. Sod thoughts of publishing deals.' I'm totally lying to myself when I say that of course, but if I can get myself into that mindset before I start writing it lifts some of the internal pressure and the words start to flow much easier.

How do you deal with writers' block and 'wobbles' (A.Writer's term)?


Quillers said...

Well done again on the word count, Cally. I'd agree with there being times the words really flow and other times it feels like hard work to get them out.

I think all you can do with the wobbles is accept them for what they are, but don't let them stop you. I think saying you're writing it for yourself is a very good way to get it finished.

I'm only just over 1000 words off my target now and I've wobbled all the way and almost given up more than once because I've felt that I want to be doing other things. What kept me going was the thought that I did not want another unfinished (or in my case too short to send out) novel on my hard drive because then it would feel like I couldn't finish anything. So even if it goes nowhere after I've typed those last words, I've decided I've achieved something by getting it done.

It can be disheartening to get rejections or to read how hard it is to get published. You just have to remind yourself of those who DO get published. As they say in the lottery, you've got to be in it to win it!

Cally said...

Thanks Sally.

Yes - actually finishing the novel is a huge motivation as I (temporarily, I hope) ditched my last one at 51,000 words (it was a YA novel so quite different from this one) and there my first attempt at a novel (about 10 years ago) which was ditched at around the 5,000 word mark.

Giving myself wordcounts as motivators is really helping too. My next one is 45,000 words (halfway) and after that it'll be 52,000 (so I have the satisfaction of knowing I've written more words than my last attempt).

I can't believe how close you are to finishing your novel. How exciting! Are you going to celebrate with a glass (bottle?) of bubbly?

Quillers said...

I've got a bottle of whisky in the kitchen and enough coke to sink a battle ship (the drink coke that is!) So I'll be toasting with something. I should get started on finishing. Or maybe I'll just go straight to the whisky and coke...