Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Suffering Means I Am A Real Writer, Right?

Writing is hard, and when it isn't bliss, it sucks a lot.
And the bliss is a depressingly low percentage.
So, I wrote the main chunk of my novel (the first 50,000 words) during NaNoWriMo, then took a break, then finished it (total of approx 75,000 words).  Since then I've been working on revising/editing, and halfway through I basically just got sick of it.  Two other ideas for new stories started blooming in the back of my mind, but I pushed them aside, determined to keep going on my  novel.
After suffering through trying to force myself to keep revising I have finally decided to move on to something else, for now.  I still like my novel and my characters and I feel weirdly like I am abandoning them, and I actually know what changes I want to make, it's just that I feel like I need to spend some time away from it.  I have completely lost perspective.
I feel:
  • guilty
  • like a failure for not following through to the end
  • lazy for stopping work
  • excited for the other ideas
  • confused
  • tense when I am not writing
  • happy when I am
  • hatred for myself for not writing more
  • proud of myself for writing at all

The two other ideas are only partially fleshed out in my mind, and I don't want to start work on either one of them quite yet.  When I wrote my novel I thought about it for months beforehand, setting up a fairly detailed outline and doing extensive character sketches.  I had the plot pretty much completely mapped out, and it worked well for me.  I don't want to start on either of the other two until I know more about what's supposed to happen and who the characters are.
So this past weekend, after not writing or revising or anything for two months and getting more and more stressed and freaked out every day, I finally just started writing the first thing that popped into my head.  It feels disorienting to be writing aimlessly, but wonderful to be writing.  I know a lot of writers write everything that way, but I find the idea of having things planned out very comforting.  I'm not even sure what this is going to be, but so far I am liking it a lot.  It's kind of fun to be surprised.


  1. Writing aimlessly is about the only way I can write. Well, I get a general idea in my head of where I want to go, and then fill in all the mumbo jumbo as it comes to me.
    I tried to do nanowrimo but so much crap came up in November that I only got about 20,000 words in before I was too overwhelmed with life to write.

  2. you are, without a doubt, a real writer. the feelings you describe are right out of the manual.

    and you're writing again—wonderful! your novel will be there, waiting faithfully. enjoy!

  3. Oh, my dear e -- writers DO this. They have the baby and put it in a bouncy swing to occupy itself for a while and then come back. Let it sit, keep your fingers and thoughts busy and go back for a re-read/write more when the time is right.
    Sometimes it is just the act of writing the whole piece that was your true purpose, learning how to construct your novel, and you put the first one aside to ripen more while you apply the learned skill on new ideas. I am just proud to personally know someone who successfully finished the process! Go, e!

  4. Heather, filling in the mumbo jumbo is the fun part, right? I hope things are calmer and happier for you soon, maybe you can give NaNoWriMo another shot this year.

    Angella, you mean so much to me. Thank you! :)

    Wooz, I know a lot of writers say you should write a first novel just to get the hang of it, then toss it, but I love my novel! I'm hanging on to it, for later. Thanks for your support!

  5. Ellen, I sometimes feel exactly the same way about my art... when the muse goes on an extended vacation... I think that's normal for any kind of artist. Ms. Muse always returns... eventually...

  6. Deborah, I guess it is all part of being creative. Silly, disobedient muse! :)


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