One of the hardest things I think I have to learn is that what I write isn’t set in stone.
At least, not until something is published.
Let me explain – hopefully I won’t ramble.
I mentioned before – I’ve started rewriting my urban fantasy novel (Sam Kane: Into the Fire). Currently, I’m at 16,000 words and hopefully I’ve updated the meter in the sidebar to reflect that by the time this post goes live. Getting there was hard.
Because I had written so much on this story and I didn’t want that to be for nothing, I didn’t want to throw any of that away. Each word was a struggle with perfection, with getting this idea out of my head and onto the page – I couldn’t throw it away! Right?
It’s that very kind of thinking that tends to hold me back. “I’ve written x thousands of words – I have to push through and force it to work!”
I was thinking these very thoughts not too long ago. Such thoughts were bogging me down, holding me back. Something had to give – my normal path would be to set the project aside and work on something else until I could get my head back in the game again and keep pushing through.
I do this a lot. I look at all of my projects and I see a pattern: I start full of enthusiasm and ideas, then I stall for whatever reason so I set it aside and work on something else, but it isn’t long before I pick it up again, push through for a bit, stall again, set aside again, pick up again – it’s a vicious cycle. One that has to be broken.
When I write, I edit myself. This means that I tend to not rewrite. I will write until I get to an arbitrary point and then I go back and read / edit. The trigger for this can be different things – sometimes it’s because I’ve hit a wall and need to figure out where the story goes from here, or how to get the story from where I’ve written it into a corner to where it needs to be in the next bit. Sometimes it’s because I was forced to take a break from writing for a couple days, or that I had other things that I needed to get done first and simply ran out of time for the day – in this case, I need to refresh my memory so I go back and read, something catches my eye or bothers me – maybe it’s a bit of logic that is bothering me (as in – that’s not logical), and so I start editing.
The result of this is that when I write, I think my brain thinks that it’s set in stone. I have created this work of prose – it shall stand the test of time!
Hear me brain? -B- -S-!
Thinking like that had me very nearly pulling my hair out in frustration. I kept trying to add on to the story, tried cutting and pasting this bit here, that bit there – I think the best analogy I could use might be the Winchester Mad House.
The Winchester Mystery House is a well-known California mansion that was under construction continuously for 38 years. It once was the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, but is now a tourist attraction. Under Winchester’s day-to-day guidance, its “from-the-ground-up” construction proceeded around the clock, without interruption, from 1884 until her death on September 5, 1922, at which time work immediately ceased. The cost for such constant building has been estimated at about US $5.5 million.
Think about that – She just kept building it, kept adding on, tweaking it – for the rest of her life. She never considered it finished, there was always something, somewhere, that she wanted to change.
I think authors (and any creative person, really), are vulnerable to this same kind of thinking. I know that I am. That’s why I just kept plowing forward.
Obviously, a couple weeks ago (or has it been a month or more now?) something changed. I realized that the only one holding me back was me and I started over.
The results are pretty amazing so far. Now I just have to keep with it and stay on target.
Yes. I went there.