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Try try again

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So, I sat down ten days ago and started typing and managed to produce a first draft of my newest novel.

It was amazing, I was on a word high and for ten glorious days I was writing between 5000 and 10,000 words a day. When I was done my arms were sore, but I was elated because the thing just flowed.

Sounds lovely and magical doesn’t it? Well it’s not…really. 



Because before I started this book, I spent a long and frustrating chunk of time hacking away at another book, nearly hitting the 40,000 word mark before I wanted to violently hurl it out the window because I hated it so much. It just wasn’t working. I loved the concept so much I was trying to make it work, but it just ended up horrible, so horrible in fact that I had to step away from it completely and not think about it for months lest it make me insane.

So a couple months later I took a look at the concept at the core of the book again because I kept coming back to it, I was drawn to it and I didn’t want to let it go. Then Ben and I went on one of our epic creative beach walks and discussed and I whined about how in love I was with the concept and he finally said ‘so just write a different story’.

The original novel was about a 20-something girl with no friends or family and I was feeling in the mood for a younger voice to I decided to write from the perspective of a twelve year old with a family and a bunch of friends instead. Then I took a step back from my core concept (a mental affliction) and instead of giving it to the protagonist I gave it to her mother and blammo, I was in business!

After months of struggle with a concept I loved too much to walk away from I had finally hit the mark and I wrote like the wind for all the time I’d wasted fretting over a book that was falling flat.

So the moral of this story is that if you have something you love you don’t always have to let it go. If your book kicks you down, sit on your ass for awhile then get up and try try again. Don’t get locked into a single story, because a single concept has the potential to become a million different versions of itself, so if one isn’t working don’t be afraid to toss it in the trash and start fresh.

I sometimes struggle with learning this lesson because of the fear that once I have an idea I’ll never, ever have another one again. But that has never been true, not even once, so I think it’s time for me to get over it and learn that just because a story isn’t working, it doesn’t mean the concept is a flop.

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Stop & Go – On being a fast writer

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I’m a fast writer.

For the most part, when I get an idea in my head I just go, go go and I don’t want to stop until it’s done.  Some people think this isn’t always a good thing.  I’ve had people tell me to take my time with my short stories (like weeks or months) and I’m just thinking ‘What?! Why?! But I’m on a roll, I’m in the zone, I’m feeling the flow, I’m rocking this!’

Everyone writes at a different pace though, and my pace just happens to be fast and furious.  Like I’ve got a lifetime of stories all pent up in there and I can’t get them down fast enough.  And that’s okay.  It’s okay to write at whatever pace you want to, take your time or just let it pour out onto the page.  It’s all good.

All that being said I find sometimes, as I’m careening along the highway of my novel (both metaphorically and literally as my protagonist is traveling), there are moments where I just need to take a deep breath.  It’s not a slow down, it’s more of a brakes-on-full-stop.  I need to workout, eat a meal, or go for a walk and just think.

Maybe it’s that my protagonist has found herself in the wrong location, or maybe it’s the right place but the wrong time.  Maybe things have gotten too complicated, (I rarely find they get too simple), too extravagant, too obvious.  Something just doesn’t feel right.  As I haven’t really planned this particular story ahead of time, it could be one of a million things and I have to be okay with the halt in my speedy forward momentum.

Sometimes it’s a tough pill to swallow, when you’re excited about life and writing and everything so much that you just want to get it all out there, taking a moment can be a brutal concept.  Brutal?  Yes.  Necessary?  Sometimes.

A lot can happen in a five minute break, an hour long break or gods forbid a day or two.  You can learn so much in such a short period of time that it might even effect your style or the voice of your character.  So if you need to stop at any point, just read from a few chapters back to make sure you get back into the voice, then write like hell!

I’m a fast writer, and that’s okay.  I just have to learn to accept that sometimes my stories can’t keep up and need to take a little pit-stop before they can go again.

Are you a fast writer?  A slow writer?  What are your challenges with speed?

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Write Whatcha Know

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Your life is fascinating.

No no, you say.  My life is boring, dull, I haven’t gone anywhere, done anything.  Not really…

One time when I was in Scotland and I was looking around, wide eyed with wonder.  I was raving about the wild hills, the ancient castles, the way the dark stone gleamed and the green moss sparkled like magic.  A local looked at me with a bored sort of expression and shrugged.  “It’s no big deal,” he said.  I was shocked.  How could he possibly think all that untamed beauty was no big deal?  He was acclimatized.

You are the Scottish local, acclimatized to your life.  We all do it.  When I was a bit younger I had some crazy times and now when I look back it all feels a bit…mundane.  But it’s my job as a writer to make sure I remember it isn’t.  It’s your job too.

Remember that, just because you have lived your life and are used to it, doesn’t mean other people have.  Humans are a nosey lot, they want to peer into other lives, other moments that aren’t their own, find the juicy bits and chew on them.  Your juicy bits are in there, I promise.

I’m currently writing a book tentatively called ‘A Girl Out There’, it’s a story of a girl hitch hiking through America.  I was a hitch hiker once, around Europe.  So I’m having the time of my life writing this book and finding juicy tidbits from my time on the road, embellishing them, changing them up and incorporating them.  It allows me to go back in time and gather up all the things that made me who I am.  A ride down memory lane.

So maybe you didn’t hitch hike around Europe (probably for the best), but I’m positive you have done other fantastic and amazing things.  It doesn’t matter how grand, or small they might be, your experiences make you who you are and that is a story well worth telling.

When we write we allow ourselves to share our voice and this is what people want to read.  People want to feel like they have a connection to us, because they’re acclimatized to themselves and want to hitch a ride with someone else for a change.

Tell me how you write what you know.