I mentioned in a recent post that I have been in quite the rut when it comes to my novel. Trapped in thoughts, I wasn’t actually creating anything. I sat down every day to write, and instead of opening my Google doc, I started making a list of things I needed to change and edits to implement. The list, of course, only grew longer and more complicated because I was putting all of my effort into what I thought I was supposed to do instead of what I was actually doing. Which, basically, was thinking instead of writing.
That is when I decided to make some changes, and I am happy to report, I was able to add about 1,500 words to the book. And they comprise a scene that I have been trying to write for months and just haven’t been able to. My fingers always typed a sentence. My eyes read it. My brain said, “My God, you need to change so much if you go in this direction.” And then I became entirely overwhelmed and fiddled with commas until I escaped to Twitter. But this time, I tried something new.
The first thing I did before even attempting another sentence was read a novel in my genre (YA fantasy, if you’re new here). I read Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan in a matter of three days and remembered why I wanted to write a novel in the first place — escapism, happiness, joy in creativity. This particular book was the perfect choice for a wandering writer, because Faerie Wars does not take itself too seriously. There are plenty of death scenes and serious events, but nothing feels somber. It is light. Fun. Fantastical. Humor is woven into every page. Brennan doesn’t explain everything to his readers, which is something I am a little guilty of in my manuscript. Show, don’t tell, Alex. Make them feel.
During the time I was reading this book, my mother and sister finished beta reading my second draft. I talked to them about it and asked them these questions (among a million more that emerged from their respective answers):
- Which characters do you like?
- What do you want to know more about?
- So, you really weren’t bored?
Thank you, Mom and Sister, for telling me the truth but also fluffing my ego. Writers need that sometimes, I think. Sister texted me with a piece of advice that I had been worrying in my head for months. Does it or doesn’t it need this? Without me having mentioned my doubts to her, she suggested it. I forgot that my gut is what put the story down in the first place. Maybe I should follow it.
Anyway, I finished talking to them and felt the spark in my belly again. I knew what I had to say. I knew the pain I needed to put on the page, and I realized I had been avoiding it because this scene was one that was going to be a hell of a lot more personal for me. I had been, devastatingly, afraid of writing.
More importantly, I had forgotten that this book is something I am creating because it fulfills me, not because I may publish it in some distant future.
The final thing that I did before I could actually write again was re-read. I scrolled through my opening scenes, sat down with the first three chapters. Changed small things because I am picky. But I read my book instead of attacking it.
I finished Faerie Wars and — finally, miraculously, gloriously, gratefully — I wrote again.