I declared the first draft of my novel ‘finished’ back in May but I have something to confess – it actually needed a whole lot of structural work and a new character.
My second draft was spent shifting entire chunks around in Scrivener, rewriting thousands of words and hitting a wall. I ended up with something akin to performance anxiety. To try and break my newly acquired fear of my own laptop, I switched to pen and paper. It worked. I wrote another 13,000 words and finally found an ending that made sense.
Draft number three was comparatively easy – one or two blocks were rearranged, a bunch of dialogue was edited for voice consistency and character arcs were sanded down a little. I’ve used NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) as my motivation to complete the draft by the end of November.
Getting motivated to finish the damn book
One of my favourite writers, Allison Tait, is very fond of saying ‘finish the damn book‘ any time she’s asked for writing tips. I’ve listened to her say it over and over again both in writing and on the Australian Writers’ Centre’s So You Want To Be A Writer podcast.
Every time I’d get sidetracked from my fiction writing by shiny new writing projects, shelve my manuscript due to a perceived lack of time or moan about being the worst aspiring novelist in all of history, I’d hear Al saying: Finish the damn book. You can’t edit a blank page.
I said it myself, I wrote it on post-it notes, I even mentioned it during my interview with That Reminds Me.
And guess what? It worked. I’ve finished the damn book!
My book has 75,455 words of beginning, middle and end. It has a plot and character arcs and themes and all other manner of literary devices. It’s not perfect, but it is finished. I have no idea if it will ever be published, but it’s finished.
The suspense is killing me
Late last week I sent it out to half a dozen wonderful beta readers – writerly friends and family – and now I am spending my days biting my nails, checking my emails and trying so very hard to restrain myself from sending out group messages saying TELL ME, PLEASE, IS IT CRAP?
I’m trying to distract myself by short-listing a dozen publishing houses who are currently accepting unsolicited commercial fiction manuscripts.
I’m reading about drafting synopses, reading other people’s sample synopses and drafting my own synopsis. (If you’re looking for help on crafting a synopsis I can highly recommend Natasha Lester’s online course, Pitch Your Novel.)
I’m also sifting through ideas for my next novel because I’ve discovered something else – finishing a damn book is quite an exhilarating feeling. I rather like it. In fact, I like it so much that I think I just might try to finish another damn book.
What’s your current creative project?
Any tips on dealing with the wait for feedback?