As probably all of you know, I’m in the midst of final rewrites for my novel EMBERS. I’ve learned a lot during this process that I wish I’d known all along, so I’ve complied a quick list of some particularly (IMHO) important things.
Maybe it’ll help you!
1.) As you’re making deadlines, don’t schedule so many things that missing a day’s work will put you hopelessly behind.
I cannot stress this enough. You will have good intentions as you plan your days – you will think you can manage to edit five chapters in twenty-four hours. You will think 30k a week is manageable. You will think putting it on a to-do list will help you stick to it.
What it will do is succeed in overwhelming you – so that you accomplish even less than what you’re typically capable of. Moreover, seeing it unchecked on the to-do list will leave you feeling miserable because it’ll constantly serve as a reminder that you “failed.” And then you’ll keep failing, because you’ve taken on so much and you’re so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to begin – and the work keeps piling up, day by day…
Be kind to yourself.
Break up your goals into small, manageable tasks.
2.) Turn off the internet. Put your phone on airplane mode.
Especially relevant for you millennials – if it’s on, you’ll use it.
If that sounds impossible, give yourself at least thirty minutes without it – and write, the entire time. You can reward yourself with a ten minute social media break. Adjust to suit your needs (but allocate more time for writing than social media) and repeat.
3.) Writing can be therapy. Therapy can be writing.
My best writing days are, without a doubt, my worst life days.
When life becomes unbearable and you want nothing more than to dig into that Ben & Jerry’s with a pitchfork and binge-watch another series on Netflix – write.
You will be better for it.
And your writing will have a raw, emotive quality hard to come by on a happier day.
I’m not asking you to seek out strife. That’s generally not a healthy thing to do. I’m just saying – cliche of all cliches – if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
4.) By the time you’re penning your final draft, the plot will be complex. You will get lost. You will want to pick your eyeballs out. Don’t.
This is perfectly normal and just one of those less-than-stellar aspects of being a writer (at least I hope so.) It will all click one day (at least I hope so.)
The trick is to take a mental step forward – asses your story not as a whole, but as a sum of its parts. Look at it chapter by chapter, scene by scene, or – as Anne Lamott famously put it – “bird by bird.”
5.) And finally, treat everything like it’s a draft.
When you start out on this journey, you will seek perfection.
I guarantee it.
You will be looking for that polished draft that mimics those found on the shelves of bookstores.
And when you’re incapable of writing it, you will find yourself stuck.
Stop seeking perfection.
I guarantee that you will never reach it. So don’t look at the final draft as the final draft – pretend that’s it’s just another revision. You’ll lull your brain into a false sense of security.
“It doesn’t matter that my prose won’t sparkle in this scene,” your brain will say. “I’ll just fix it in the next draft!”
And you’ll move on – and then, when the time comes for the “next draft,” you will realize it doesn’t require nearly as much work as you anticipated, and all will be right with the world (at least I hope so.)
There you have it!
Are there any invaluable insights you’d like to share about your own experiences?
WC: roughly 90k
25 days till self-imposed deadline
7 Chapters Remaining (to be rewritten)