Gotta Know When to Fold’em
To date this month, I’ve written just under 60,000 words. Most of that was on my SF novel project. However, nothing seemed to be coming together with the novel and I kept throwing out whole scenes and chapters and starting again and again trying to make the plot gel. I kept doing this until the fun was gone and all I could do is sit and write and then delete and try again and hate every second of it.
So I’m sort of quitting that novel for now. Not forever. Just for now. It’s a complex plot, more involved with more POVs and more threads than I’ve ever tried to write before. Which is a good thing, since I think it’s healthy to stretch my writing muscles and make myself deal with something I’m weaker on like complicated plotting. But beating myself up about it not coming together wasn’t helping anything.
It’s really hard for me to admit I need to take a step back from this project. I follow Heinlein’s Rules, after all. Rule 2 is “finish what you write”. When stepping away from this, I had to ask myself honestly if I wanted to put it down for now because that’s the healthy thing to do? Or am I just walking away because this is difficult? It’s one thing to set something down and let it percolate a little more. It’s another to start forming a habit of dropping a project the moment it gets rocky. I don’t want to form a habit of not finishing things, because nothing will kill a writing career faster than not finishing, except maybe not starting. (If I don’t start, I can’t finish, if I don’t finish, I can’t submit, if I don’t submit, I can’t sell…see?)
So I’m making a compromise with myself. I’m stepping back from this novel. I’m still going to keep up my writing streak and go for my necessary 3,000 words a day and a short story on weekends (the numbers I need to hit my annual goals). And I’m designating Mondays as the day to work on this novel (minimum one page/250 words). If I have to just write it scene by scene and take 40 weeks to finish, I’ll finish. Meanwhile, the rest of the days will be devoted to other projects that I feel more comfortable with. I figure that this is a good compromise. I’m not quitting this novel entirely, but I’m giving myself breathing room on it while hopefully continuing to develop my skills enough that the sort of complicated plot I want to construct here will become an easier thing for me. I’m tired of second guessing myself and deleting words and basically letting my critical voice eat away at me. I’m a better writer than that and I should know better.
So that’s what’s up with me right now. I’m turning to short stories while I get a couple of novels formatted for e-publishing and then I’ll be back to novel writing in March (working on a fantasy novel with a nice straightforward quest/romance plot and only one or two POVs, thank god).
I’ve fallen behind on the Write 1/Sub 1 challenge by 3 short stories, so I intend to catch up this week and next. Also next week I have two workshops back to back, so I think that will help recharge my batteries and be really interesting and amazing as always (but especially with the changes in the industry right now… being around multiple professional writers for an entire week is going to be very, very educational).