Write on Through

Whenever I get a huge idea for a new story, I generally stop what I’m doing and open a new document, give it a temporary name, and write down the first couple of sentences and notes. I have lots of these lurking in my WIP folder, but I never allow myself more than ten minutes to create them. Then I leave them alone, to wait until I’ve published what I’m currently writing. I do write more than one book at a time, but I haven’t ever abandoned any of them in favour of starting something brand new, and working on that instead. Many times I get to a place in a book I’m working on when the next thing to happen refuses to reveal itself to me, or I think that the whole story is a lot of rubbish anyway, and getting stuck into something shiny and new would be a much better idea. No matter how much I really, really want to start in on my new idea, I won’t allow myself to do that. Because if I do it once, I’ll do it again, and then maybe another time, and if I’m not careful I could end up with piles of unfinished books and nothing ever ready to be published.

I’ve never heard any famous author say that writing is easy. It isn’t. It’s really hard work. I think that writing is like any other job though, in the way that the more you do it the easier it gets. When you begin an exercise regime you might only manage a ten minute workout, and you have to push yourself through the pain to get fitter. You have the choice of deciding that it’s way too difficult and try something else instead, or to carry on pushing until you reach your goal. If you give up, you’ll be disappointed in yourself, and will never know what you could have achieved. If you choose to keep going, those endorphins are going to give you a happy face every time you complete your workout, especially if it was hard, and eventually you’re going to reap the benefits of all your work with your taut new body, and years added on to your life.

I think that writing’s just the same. When that next sentence just won’t come, you can just drop it and try something new, or you could write on. It’s at these points that I allow myself to write anything, no matter how stupid it sounds, because eventually the tangled threads will unravel, and I’ll see where I need to go. My goal is always the final sentence of the story I’m working on, and then I get to reap the benefits of getting it published. And those writerly endorphins give me a happy face every time I add to my story. There’s always a sense of accomplishment whether it’s one hundred or two thousand words. Not writing anything at all on any day generally brings on anxiety, because I know that the longer I leave it, the harder it will be to get back into. Just like exercise, you have to keep your scribbler muscles in shape. So it doesn’t matter how many new stories you start writing. If you don’t push through on the books you’re writing now, you stand the chance of wasting a whole lot of time, with only a pile of partly written stories to show for it.

Lewis Carroll
Image Credit: Public Domain Review

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26 thoughts on “Write on Through”

  1. Thanks Jo. Very sound advice. I still some unfinished “gems” but you’re right about exercising the writing muscles. Discipline is necessary. We can always find reasons not to do something but coming to the end and having your story complete is the best one to keep going.

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  2. I’m a one story at a time guy. I make notes on other projects, but set them aside. I have to work on one at a time or I’ll lose it. I always start at Once upon a time, and write until Happily ever after. I don’t write things out of sequence either.

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    1. Now that’s discipline! I like to have three on the go at the same time – different genres, but generally one of them gets 70% of my attention. It prevents that “finished book, now what” syndrome for me. 🙂

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      1. The blog is nearly an alternate project. I enjoy the time between projects. Writing isn’t tied to my paycheck, so I might go fishing for a month instead. I need to ruminate on my story ideas anyway, and the fishing hole is a good place for that.

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  3. Sane advice. When I am in the grip of an idea I am penning (or keyboarding) down, other ideas keep popping up. In fact, snatching off some time to note these down in an embryonic stage renews the perspective on where the current one is headed. Unfortunately, at any point in time, there are 99 of the embryo kinds vying for my attention.

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