I’ve reach that point again where I can’t shut off my pesky writer brain. Every time I conclude a draft, or revision, or beta round, etc., I know I should relax. Take a vacation. Ignore the buzzing ideas in my head. Sleep more. And in theory it’s a good idea. But in practice, nuh uh, ain’t happening. You can try and fight it, but the nagging just won’t stahp!
When you finish whatever you’re working on:
Then, you think you’re mentally exhausted:
But your brain is ssooooo not. It wants that new idea:
You try to find things to keep you occupied:
But your brain keeps racing through ideas for the plot bunny:
No matter how hard you try to ignore it, the idea keeps bothering you:
So you give up:
And you start working:
The struggle is real.
I never start writing before I know what the ending of the story will be. At least that’s the plan.
When an idea strikes me, I work on research, outlines, subplots, characters and the like before writing the first word. Even still, endings cause the biggest trouble for me. Without fail.
The idea I initially plan is generally well intentioned. It fits with the plot, the character, any twists or themes. That doesn’t mean it will stay the same as I planned. In fact, it most often does not. Mostly because once I read the completed draft, I realize the ending no longer fits. Sometimes it needs a serious overhaul before moving forward. Or perhaps minor tweaks.
I’ve also experienced endings I believe fit at first but later on, it dawns on me there needs to be a change. For the longest time, discovering these much needed edits would bother me. I had planned so carefully! Why didn’t things work out? And then one day it hit me. The ending, like the rest of the book, is alive. It shifts and changes and surprises you.
Things don’t have to go according to plan. I don’t need to get my ending right the first time words hit the page. I don’t even need it to be right when betas read through the draft. Writing is always a work in progress, so building up endings to a level that suggests they must be perfect simply isn’t true.
Nothing in writing is final until it’s in print. So there’s no need to stress so much over a tough or messy ending. Do your best. And that’s the best you can do.
What have your experiences with endings been? Do you find yourself sticking to your guns or editing with each round?
Another November has come and gone! This time around, I was able to prepare a few ideas for the month and spent the first several days testing them out. Shortly into writing, I knew my Underground Railroad Alternate History (think Civil War and Rip Van Winkle retelling…kinda) would be the best bet. On the 28th of this month, I reached 50k and celebrated another NaNo win!
I learned several lessons throughout this experience I thought they might be helpful to share:
Don’t Force It. Even if you have a goal of writing 1k, 3k or 5k a day, if the words don’t come out easily and writing feels like a chore then stop when you need to. In my experience, forced words usually get deleted later, so only write what feels right.
Embrace Change. I went into NaNo expecting and wanting to write one story. While I had the idea of the novel I eventually wrote, it wasn’t the one I expected to finish. By shifting goals, I was much happier throughout the month. The same went for changes in my plot or concept. Just let the words happen.
Use Support. One of the biggest benefits of the writing community is the helpful support. When I got writer’s block, or felt drained or needed a boost, having a support group kept me on track.
Try Not to Edit. I much prefer editing, so drafting is tough for me to do without wanting to make changes as I go. The tactic that I find works best is swearing off editing until the draft is done. Write down all the edit ideas you want, but don’t do them until the end.
Take Breaks. Everyone gets burnt out and drained up when writing. Factor in jobs, friends, family and all the other craziness of life and it can be exhausting. When you aren’t feeling charged to write or excited, do what you can and take a break. Watch a movie, read a book– anything that clears your head.
Most Importantly: Just Write. It might be an overwhelming goal to write a novel in thirty days, but at the end of the month, even if you didn’t “win” you still got words down. That’s what counts.
If you have any lessons or tips you’ve learned from your NaNo experience, feel free to leave a comment
People always ask, “What’s your book about?” But the question often ignored is, “Why did you write your book?” That’s where this blog hop comes in!
I think it’s fair to say every writer decides to put words on paper because the story speaks to them in some way. If you’re like me, you can hear the characters in your head and you know their tale must be told.
For my novel, The Bootlegger’s Bible, which was chosen for PitchWars by epic mentors Stephanie Garber and Stacey Lee, the nagging thoughts in my head to write this story came mostly from my childhood. My parents come from different religious backgrounds and for my entire life we’ve celebrated the holidays of each faith. I grew up immersed in both cultures, the traditions, the viewpoints and seeing how they weren’t always fond of each other. From that, my characters started to emerge until I could hear their voices and their old fashioned slang.
Now, to be fair, my youth didn’t exactly consist of an alternate version of the 1940′s, like in my novel, where the Second World War and Prohibition coexist. But I have always been fascinated by the gangster era. So when I thought about these families and when their story should be told, Prohibition seemed like an obvious setting. Especially given the warring neighborhoods and the everyday man turning on their friends and family.
Starting with those basic building blocks, my novel blossomed from (what I consider) a pretty cool idea into a fully fledged world. I loved exploring all the alternate history possibilities and watching my characters transform into people. It’s been such an incredible ride and I honestly have never loved this story more.
I know I’m not alone in having a great “behind the book” story, so be sure to check out all these other awesome PitchWars participants and learn about their journeys.
Tracie Martin: WILD IS THE WIND