Friday, September 21, 2012

Overcoming the "life gets in the way of writing" syndrome

Life sure gets in the way sometimes, huh? Especially when fiction writing isn't your main source of income, or, in fact, any form of income at the present time. No matter how much working on my manuscript(s) makes me happy there have been HUGE periods of time this year when I haven't had time to write, have been too stressed to write and just plain haven't wanted to write.

It feels stupid/stink/lame to say life gets in the way. But the reality is that we're all juggling the various components of our lives, deciding our own priorities and even when you want to write, there are times when you need to put that aside and focus on other things.

One of my priorities is sitting at the end of the bed, watching me, waiting for her walk. Her name is Ruby and one of the very good things about owning a dog when you're a writer is the fact that you do need to get off your butt and walk the dog. The getting off your butt bit is critical, I've decided to one's physical and mental health.

At the moment, I'm rehashing the first three chapters of a romantic suspense. It's not the first time I've rehashed this book, but I hope I'm finally on the right track with the plot and can move on to actually finish the whole manuscript.

People say they have trouble getting to through the saggy middle. Gee, I'd actually like to make it to the middle of this story so I can see if it's saggy or not!

Other writers have told me you'll learn aspects of the craft of writing when you're ready. I can relate to this better this year after several light bulb moments when Randy Ingermanson, the 'snowflake guy' from spoke at our RWNZ conference. Basically I figured out that I wasn't being nearly as mean as I needed to be to my characters. You'd think for a romantic suspense, I'd have chucked them in the deep end and made them suffer, sweat and panic. Well, you would think that. Trouble was I had about 15,000 words of them getting to know each other while sort of in a panic about running away from the bad guys. Nup. Re-write! Re-write!

The weird thing was the plot outline was looking promising - lots of action, lots of drama, lots of emotional high and low points. I haven't figured out why I was letting myself write off on these soft, lame tangents in stead of facing what needed to be done - bringing the bad guys in and truly making my characters sink or swim.

So that's where I'm at this week. Re-writing the first 10,000 words. Again.

No matter what my lovely critique group members say, I can't just start from where I was up to, because that was wrong! So wrong I'm not even sure I should call myself an amateur suspense writer. DOH!

Anyway, so, it's all part of the learning process, isn't it? I just hope it doesn't take me another two years to plot the next book and that's before I attempt to write it, then re-write it, etc, etc.

The good thing is I do think I've got the premise and characters pretty much on the right track. And what I've written isn't bad - I even have "oh, that's quite good moments" - but I can do and will do better.

While looking for a couple of progress tracking tools today - all in the interests of trying to finish this book this year - I came across these word tracker spreadsheets among the writing resources available from Svenja Liv. They're pretty full-on spreadsheets and as I've developed excel spreadsheets of my own in the past, I might simply utilise some of the ideas which are really excellent. Clearly a very talented person with the complex Excel formulas and groovy colour layouts. We all appreciate the sharing of this kind of resource :)

So, I better go walk the dog. More writing later... I can't leave my poor characters in the midst of a car crash for much longer...

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