Four months ago, I posted an entry to Jennifer’s Journal about how I had recently begun writing a novel. How excited I was to tell you of my ambition! And how I loved and appreciated the likes and the supportive, enthusiastic comments that post generated!
Little did I know then what lay ahead, Dear Readers and Bloggers.
Since the inception of this, my latest creative project, my path has had a few twists, turns and bumps. One of the biggest and most significant was undoubtedly when I decided, after conceiving a plot, creating the characters and developing an outline, to give up on it.
Well, I didn’t exactly give up on this first effort. I know; by now, you are probably thinking “what is this flighty, unfocused female trying to say?” No, I chose to set aside this first plot outline for consideration at a later date. I liked it, but not for right now. Instead, I began working on another, entirely different idea for a book. It is an idea that I felt more comfortable with and felt more capable writing about. So before long I had the new outline completed, new characters imagined, and I was underway.
But Life happens. I was sidetracked, and devastated, by some major personal events that demanded my attention and reflection. Into the mix was the holiday season and the traveling and socializing it required, a wedding, flare-ups of a chronic shoulder tendonitis condition, and then a bout of pneumonia. I blogged through it all, and managed to do some necessary research for the novel while the going was tough.
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
Thankfully, things have settled down since last month. I got back to writing. I imagined how my characters had been waiting for me, patient yet eager to be actually doing something besides standing around, waiting quietly in the wings, looking at their watches or drumming their fingers. At last they were given something to say, and something to do. Hurray!
As of today, I would venture to guess I am one-quarter to one-third done writing the first draft. I have hopes of completing this draft by late spring, then begin the editing. It is only now I am realizing the dedication and self-discipline needed to write an entire full-length novel, especially when the only deadline you have is one you have invented for yourself. Some days I write over a thousand words, some days five hundred, and some days, none at all. (I try to keep those to a minimum). Even when I am not actually writing, I think about my book a lot. My husband and I will be watching TV or a movie at night, and I’ll suddenly realize I missed a big chunk of the story because I was lost in thoughts of my own story!
As strong and compelling as my conviction is, I still have to fight against my nemesis, procrastination. As I’m sure many of you may empathize, even though I love writing and find it rewarding, it is hard work. And it is natural sometimes to feel you are not in the ideal mood for it. But it is important to push through at those times, and demand that little extra from yourself, even if it is only a couple hundred words or so. I have come to appreciate that writing for half an hour is better than not writing at all, so one doesn’t lose momentum and focus.
In some ways, I believe we can compare writing a book to training for and running a marathon. Here is an excerpt from Running for Fitness by Owen Barder, to illustrate:
The marathon distance is exquisitely set to take us beyond our comfort zone, into a realm in which we confront the limitations of our bodies and our minds. We complete the marathon distance only by patient preparation and mental discipline. There are no short cuts, no easy ways out. The marathon takes us up to, and beyond, the limit of human endurance, into an unknown zone where we confront our true selves, and discover our inner strengths and limits.
Please wish me luck on my marathon of writing in the months ahead. Daunting at times? Yes. Worth the sacrifice of time, and the blood, sweat and tears? Absolutely.
Do you have any thoughts about your own experiences with writing? Is there any advice you would like to share?