About trusting yourself and letting go

My most recent book was a lesson in trusting myself and letting go of notions of what I thought the book should be.

The comments I’ve received on the book are better than usual, and that is gratifying. I don’t think I would regret anything even if they weren’t, because by the time I’d written the last word, I was happy with the book and the direction it had taken. It’s a book I was sure no one but me would like, because it does things that books in the genre I’m in don’t usually do. It was really a mix of several genres, as a lot of my books are, but with enough of an overriding element of one that I’m able to claim it as belonging to the genre I always mean to write when I start a new book for my main pen name.

It was also hard to write at times, because I kept having to beat back the critical part of myself and just write what felt right instead of what my brain was telling me was the right thing to write.

The book had several twists that I fought up to the bitter end, but now that it’s done, I’m so glad I let go and let the story become what it needed to be versus what I kept wanting it to be.

The real lesson I learned from this is that sometimes our brains tell us we’re going in the wrong direction, and what we’re really doing is laying a foundation that will be the bedrock of the story we end up telling.

It’s important to trust ourselves as artists and writers, and accept that sometimes that means we don’t know where we’re going with something until it pays off for us, for the characters, the plot—the story.

I hope if you’re struggling with a story, you can find it in yourself to let go and trust yourself even when things aren’t going along how you imagined they would in the story. You might be surprised by what comes of it.

June 16–18 progress

Here’s an update. These updates are one of the several ways I’m trying to stay accountable to the writing plan I’ve made for what’s left of 2018. (Especially important considering how I let the year start off.)

June 16: 715
June 17: 193
June 18: 259

The goal each day has been at least 2,000 words, but I’ve gotten bogged down in the current chapter I’m writing and having no luck writing my way out of it.

I started out this chapter in one way, then began again, and again, and again, but didn’t want to lose what I had. Big mistake. I’ve tried to stitch it all together, but that’s where I end up bogged down.

I don’t tend to think I write out of order, but I when I try to look at things objectively, I know that sometimes I do. This may be one of those times. It’s also possible I should have just deleted everything in the chapter and started completely fresh, but I didn’t think that was going to be necessary. I did end up deleting a lot, and rewriting a lot, and wishing I’d just deleted to start with, but missing every little bit I ended up losing. It’s still a bit of a mess, but I did manage to put all of it back together. I have some thoughts about things I missed that I need to fix, but I am hopeful I can get in there and do that without going off on a tangent again that changes everything that comes after (which is what tends to happen and is the cause of a lot of writing grief for me).

It may also be that I’m a little too worried about what I’m writing (perfectionism rearing its head). It’s hard to tell. I can’t seem to let go of the idea that things just aren’t right yet.

If I bog down again today, I’m going to have to lower my expectations for this story, because I want to finish this book within a six week period, and I’m already approaching the end of week four since I began working on this book in earnest.

You know what? I read back through that last paragraph and it’s obvious why I’m bogging down. I’ve put expectations on this story and I’m going to have to let them go, now, not later.

So there you are. This is where I am with the writing as of this morning. Hopefully, I’ll have better progress to report the next time I do a progress post. :-)

There’ll be no zero word day today

Zero word day? Or zero words day?

Eh, no one cares anyway.

Today I will write 500 words—maybe not net of deletions but I will write them. I happen to know that for a fact. I’ve already finished one session and am about to start another.

On the other hand, 500 words is going to be tough to get. My first session got me up to 33 words. Yeah. Not kidding there. I spent most of that first session editing out some stuff that was bogging down my scene. I’ve also realized I’m going to have to delete a large chunk of the rest of the scene, too.

These are the words I considered deleting a few days ago but didn’t delete. I probably should have done it right away. I have a feeling these words are why I’ve been stalled for four days and broke my 500 words a day streak.

Despite all the editing I seem to do, let me take a moment to say that I do believe Dean Wesley Smith has the right of it when it comes to rewriting. On the other hand, because of the way I put scenes together on the page, sometimes I have no choice but to edit stuff.

I don’t like to rewrite (which is to me just taking a sentence and trying to recompose it using different words and which usually does take your natural voice right out of your work) and I try not to do it. But I do fight myself a lot and end up doing it more than I should.

But I’m not talking about rewriting when I’m talking about editing. When I talk about editing, I mean I’m working with my text, trying to figure out where I’m going and how to get there.

Since I don’t do that in my head as often as I do it on the page, there have to be additions and deletions on the page.

Generally, when I start doing this, it means I’m stuck. Call it writer’s block, call it project block, it’s all the same to me. I can’t go forward, so I just start messing with the book, trying to figure stuff out.

I should trust the process more often and stop avoiding it. I have a feeling I would get through these little phases so much quicker that way.

Some people would probably just say this is part of the writing. And it is. But I can’t seem to stop calling it editing.

There are other reasons I get stuck editing, too, but it’s all kind of hard to explain. I’ve written a lot of books this way, so something about it must work for me, even if it’s not very efficient.

Too much second guessing (challenge update)

It’s obvious to me that one big problem for me when it comes to speed is the speed at which I second guess my choices.

Today’s attempt to cross that 6,000 word barrier has been hampered at every turn by my tendency to write something, then write something else, then delete something, then delete something else, then rewrite the first something I wrote, before deleting it and starting the whole process over again.

That’s not the way to gather speed and momentum.

It’s 7:53 pm and I’ve let myself turn on WiFi on my computer so I can write this update. I knew it would be much faster than trying to do it on my phone and even though I have only written 1,225 words today, I’m still hopeful of more.

However, 6,000 words is probably shooting for the moon when I have no rocket.

For today.

For tomorrow, well, tomorrow hasn’t started yet. We’ll have to see about that.

For now, I’m signing off. I have more words to write, even if meeting the 6,000 word challenge is beyond me tonight. I’ll start this thing again in the morning and see how it goes.

First priority? Stop second guessing everything I put on the page.