Whenever I am writing I always think every word I type is shite (excuse the language, but it’s needed here as it describes my thoughts accurately). In fact, I recently read a book which had writers in it and one of them sums up her thoughts about writing and they match mine, perfectly, like so:
‘1) Start the book and hate everything I write.
2) Keep writing the book despite hating everything I write.
3) Finish the book and pretend I’m happy with it.’
This quotation is taken from Verity by Colleen Hoover and I hope she won’t mind me using it. I loved the book (reviewed it HERE) and I encourage everyone to read it.
It’s alright when you are writing a particularly active scene, something punchy that you can get your teeth into, where someone is getting found out or there’s a lot of action, but when you are writing the general banality of the everyday stuff that happens to your characters it is incredibly tedious to put down on the page. However, it is amazing that when it gets to the editing stage, that stuff can, with some tweaks and better use of words and grammar, still make it into the final version. It just goes to show you have to write through that bit which is often referred to as the flabby middle (or as it appears to me at the moment, the flabby whole) to get to something that can be edited and edited until something half decent (but which I will still be unhappy about) comes out the other side.
I think one of the problems is that I am not writing something formulaic. If you do, when writing a series, you must have an overall plan of what happens where, the build-up, when the climax bit occurs and the aftermath. But I don’t do that.
I am writing a series at the moment (potentially anything up to twelve books) and none of them are anything like each other. The only thing they have in common is the setting, which is a whole village, rather than any one particular place within it. The characters in each story are different, although there will be some overlap as characters are introduced in earlier stories and naturally mingle in the village. It is ambitious and no doubt this ambition is part of the issue I am having in writing anything at all, as it’s daunting. Especially as I feel I need to write all twelve initial drafts first, so I know I can complete the job. I also only have eight stories in my head. That’s something of a problem too. However, on good days, I hope other stories will reveal themselves as I go along. Otherwise it will naturally become a shorter series.
I realise I’ve digressed off the point which was meant to be about getting back on track, although I guess by writing something a little more positive than last week’s post it does show I’m getting back on track to some degree. Anyway, after my bad second week of Nano, during which I wrote precisely nothing I have a lot of making up to do. I am writing this early in the week but next Sunday, the day before this comes out I will add in the current number of words written. It is, as of this moment, 13,386 (and as I’m writing this on the 15 November it should be 25,000), and on the 22 November (yesterday) it is 20017 and it should be 36,652. So I’ve added just under 7000 words in the week, which feels about right. It’s better than nothing anyway but I can’t see me getting to 50K in the next week!
I am eager to see if I’ve managed to catch up any. Also does anyone else find it’s really easy to fall behind in something, but incredibly difficult to ever be ahead? Or is that just me!
Anyway over to you. If you’re taking part in Nano how are you getting on? And if you’re a writer can you relate to Colleen Hoover’s words above or do you feel considerably more positive about your work? I’d love to know.
I loved this post. It’s pretty much the way I feel about my writing—and where I am with my NaNo!
Really! I can’t believe you feel like that about your writing!! It’s so wonderful Actually that’s quite reassuring, Barb. Thank you for the comment, and where exactly are you with your Nano word count? I think we should be told
Hi Georgia! Thanks for a thought-provoking post.
I loved Verity, too! Very different from her other books, but quite chilling.
I tend to alternate from being enthusuastic about what I’m writing, especially as I start a project, to thinking it’s rubbish as I progress!
I’m not taking part in nano, but I’m trying to finish Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, a prequel to the trilogy and I’m over half way through. So I’m setting and more or less keeping to deadlines of about 1000 words a day. However I do write to a plotted plan. It works for me as I need that security and focus.
Your new series sounds great. It’s exhilarating to create a whole new world and write a series. Good luck and I can’t wait to read it!
Thanks, Luccia. I don’t do nano officially but I do use the month to make a decent amount of progress on something. I do block out some time each day, which sometimes works to keep me on track, but I don’t really expect to hit the 50K mark as I write too slowly. Really interesting to hear about your prequel though, I look forward to reading that! 😀 And I know you’re really focussed on plotting – I wish I could be!
I feel the same about my writing, though I’m not doing NaNo. I did it last year for the first time, and though I made it it to 50k, it’s not for me. I’m still editing that book… I saved a good confidence meme this morning and I’ve attached it to your post on FB. We should all read it for a while!
Love the meme, Linda, thank you! I shall indeed read that every morning because I’m going to stick it to my laptop. I do know what you mean about Nano not being for you. I think if I went wild and actually attempted to hit the 50K by writing any old thing it would be a complete waste of my time because I’d end up binning most of it. Instead I use the month to make myself keep going at the one manuscript to hopefully get the best part of a decent first draft done. I can then build on it from there. I could actually do this ever month, and indeed, I should, as I think that’s just being a focused writer so I shall try to continue in this way for the next few months so I can get all these first drafts done.
That was my resolution for the next few weeks too – be more focused, instead of faffing so much on social media. I want to finish my edits on last year’s Nano book by the end of the year. So let’s be focused together!
Agreed, Linda, and good luck!
Haha when I’m writing first draft I am absolutely thrilled and astonished by its brilliance, the gush of words, the sheer excitement which is why, really, we all write – damming it all up is impossible, we’d burst! When it comes to editing – especially the editing after the month in the dark – I am despairing at what absolute garbage it really is. One or two bits are salvageable … slowly enthusiasm returns … by the time it has come back from beta readers I have read it through about 30 times and hate the sight of it. I’d give up at that point if my lovely beta readers weren’t so positive, and my editor is always encouraging so I keep going … Oddly enough only 2 of my books have made me positive and excited almost throughout and neither did well. 😀
I love the fact you are still gushing the words out after all your books, EJ. I lost that ability a while ago, sadly. Fortunately I like the editing bit where you get to see those occasional sparks of something half decent starting to appear. There are certainly a lot of ups and downs in the production of our books. Your last point is interesting though… wonder why that was?
I believe that thinking most of what we write is rubbish is just part of the process! Occasionally, during the first draft of the first draft, I get little bubbles of excitement and think ‘I think I’ve got something really good here, if I pull if off’, but mostly I just think, ‘Jesus, if the people who write me great reviews ever saw this load of bollocks….’ !!
As for writing the bits that bore you, my outlook is this: if they’re boring to write… you can fill in the next bit yourself! You can take the plot from one place to another without writing them, even if it covers several years. For instance, you don’t have to write ‘for the next two months Josephine worked hard at the bakery while filling her evenings with needlepoint’. You can just start the next chapter 2 months later, when the devilishly handsome stranger walks into her life! Also, walking downstairs, doing the shopping, making toast – unless you can make it funny/plot-relevant, I think it’s best to find ways to skip over it entirely.
Eight first drafts – that’s a tall order! I’ve only ever done that ‘writing more than one book before it’s published’ thing twice, when I wrote Lindisfarne and half of UK2 before publishing Tipping Point, but that was hard enough! It’s really difficult to have a book more or less good to go, then leave it and start on another! Why not try writing a plan for them all? Then you would know where they’re all going, or more or less, but could start publishing. Anyway – great idea, good luck, and don’t be too hard on yourself!
Haha, I’m glad it’s not just me! And I do know what you mean about the everyday bits that are a drag to write – most of it will end up coming out. Of that I am sure.
I know it’s a tall order, but I think I need to at least get a good outline down for them all because otherwise I can see there might need to be things referenced in the first books for stories coming later on in the series. Those are my thoughts anyway. I also don’t want to embark on what I think is a 12 book series when really it’s only 3 or 4. Which it might well be!
So glad to hear you’re back on track, Georgia. I think my approach is a bit like yours in that a lot of the time I feel as though what I’m writing is rubbish but when I read it back I realise that I can really get somewhere with it subject to a bit of polishing.
I’m finding the current book particularly challenging as it’s the fifth book in a series of five. Some of the timeline overlaps with other books in the series so while I need to fill new readers in on what has happened to date I don’t want to bore existing readers by repeating too much. It’s a fine line to get the balance right.
I think book series have their own unique challenges and, having written two trilogies and a five book series to date, I’ll be so relieved when I finally get to write a standalone.
Good luck with your new series. I’m sure it will help to plan out each book beforehand.
Thanks Heather, and I can see it’s tricky to get the balance right in what reminders to put in although why a new reader would ever start a series at anywhere other than at the beginning is beyond me! I did say when I finished my trilogy I wasn’t going to do one of those again but I think I forgot that when I embarked on this much longer series. Anyway, I’m not committed to anything yet so I shall just see how it goes and only proceed if I think it’s worth doing. Good luck your your final book of the series!
Hi Georgia, I was pleased to read this post and see you are feeling more positive. I will look for your post tomorrow so I can see how it has all shaped up for you.
Thanks, Robbie, I’ve certainly been having a better time of it. However the post tomorrow is actually about something completely different! 🙂 I should probably do a Nano wrap-up after that!