No more nothing. I’ve done enough nothing. No more “taking a break” after publishing my first novel. No more lamenting over the life-changing experience it turned out to not be. No more not writing.
In a followup to my previous post which asked the question “Book One is Done. Now What?” I am now exploring what entails the process of moving onward.
I have not written in a long time. I have been editing for ages, but other than a few quick bursts of unfinished prose I have not written anything in…years.
I wrote the first draft of my first novel in 2008. In 2010 I wrote a second draft of it. In 2011 I wrote a third. That is the only writing I have done. It was all editing throughout and after that. Completing my first novel sucked the writing spirit right out of me.
I am not done with writing. I don’t despise writing. What I mean to say is that my desire to finish, to complete my first novel took precedence over writing for fun, over starting new stories, over creating new characters.
And now that it’s done, I find myself wondering how to write. It’s been so long since I’ve tried to create something new. I mean really tried. How do I compose a story? How to I bring to life a believable character?
How did I do it before?
And so I had to find that spark again. I needed inspiration. I browsed the Reddit writing community I frequent, Googled articles and blogs, and I read for fun. The only fiction I’ve read over the last several months was my own novel, over and over again as I tried to edit it to perfection.
And I thought about writing. I stayed awake in bed at night thinking about what I enjoy about writing. I opened up my old writing files, random documents full of half-constructed plots, broken characters, hastily recorded settings, and unfinished stories that I just couldn’t get quite right.
And there I stumbled upon one story I had started years ago. I had rewritten it’s opening scenes several times with different characters and skewed plot lines, but I was never able to make it work. I read through it, and as I did all sorts of colorful ideas and bright possibilities lit up my mind like fireworks on a dark night. This broken story which had frustrated me to no end in the past was now acting as a catalyst for my mind, reinvigorating it with the creative fire I had been searching for.
I got the creativity back. The spark plugs were firing, but I was still without any gas to get the motor running. I had ideas again. Great! But having to start all over again, needing to put new words down on a fresh document, beginning from nothing– that was another obstacle I needed to muscle through.
Patterns, routines, and goals were what I needed. Balancing a full-time job and a social life could not be an excuse. There is always time, and when it can’t be found it has to be made. Through my writing community I found this bit of advice from Joanna Penn. I followed some of her guidelines and now find myself writing just about every day.
I bought a big wall calendar and am using to track my word counts. I wanted to set for myself a strong daily word count goal. Of course I want to be at my best and write five novels a year, but I had to be realistic. 2000 words per day (wpd) was too much to start out with again. I have done more than that in the past, but I would have just scared myself away by setting such a high goal. 1200 wpd is what I decided to set for the month of February, and I can up that goal next month if I feel I can make it.
In this past week I’ve met that goal nearly every day. I don’t look at the days I didn’t make my 1200 wpd goal as failures because I still made an effort and I still wrote every one of those days.
I know that there will be days I miss with a big fat zero, but that’s ok. I’m writing again. It’s fun, and it’s a struggle, but I’m doing it. This is how I am moving forward. This is the “now what?” I was trying to figure out, and this is how I am continuing onward.
Here we go again.