IGNORING MY OWN ADVICE
by Carla Damron
One piece of advice I always give writers who are working on a novel: KEEP WRITING. Don’t take a break longer than a few days, because you’ll lose touch with the project and may lose momentum. Once you’ve vacationed from the novel-in-progress, it becomes easier to stay away from it, to let it gather dust. Avoidance wins. How many half-completed novels sit in closets or dusty hard drive files?
So I always tell writers: even if you just have fifteen minutes, sit down and write. When you’re not at the computer, think about the characters. Imagine what they’d be doing right then. Mull what you can do to advance or enrich the story. Don’t let the novel leave your consciousness. I even use my Kindle to help with this; I let it read my story aloud to me when I’m driving home from work. There are many ways to honor your relationship with your project, but devoting time and mental space to it seems critical. Right?
Except I went against my own advice. Working on this home renovation project has taken me away from my novel-in-progress for way too long. And now, as I try to return to it, I feel like I broke up with a boyfriend and don’t know how to get the relationship back on track. Not sure how to dive back in, I chose to begin at the beginning.
Problem: I saw the project with different eyes. I wasn’t the this-is-so-wonderful-I’m-in-love-with-it author. I was the holy-crappola-this-sucks editor. Almost every sentence needed fixing. I usually go through this phase AFTER completing the first draft, not in the middle of it. I try to hold off the evil editor until I’m done because otherwise, I never WOULD be done. But alas, the evil editor had taken charge.
I see so other option, so I’m trying to work with the evil editor. Yes, I’m fixing sentences, but not stalling on those that need more time. I need to plow ahead, but I find I can also polish and fix some things along the way, and this makes my evil editor enormously happy. Compromise seems to be the key.
But then another problem emerged: my characters seemed to be mad at me. Caleb Knowles, my protagonist, wouldn’t speak to me for days. Apparently, I’ve been neglecting him and he’s not sure I’m competent to write his next adventure. Never mind that I have a beautiful new office where I can write him, and I’m ready to give him the attention he deserves, and who’s in charge anyway?? Who knew some characters carried a grudge? But after a little nudging, he’s letting back into his world.
It’s okay, Caleb, I learned my lesson.
So I’m back in the saddle with my writing. I’m listening to the voices (of my characters). I’m holding the evil editor at bay. It’s not my preferred writing method, but it’s the hand I’ve dealt myself. And next time there’s some huge distraction in my life? I’m going to freakin’ LISTEN to my own advice and make TIME to write.
|I WILL write, I WILL write, I WILL write ...|
How do you handle breaks from your writing? Do you have any tips for handling the evil editor?