Most recently I’ve been working on the second installment of my Sunstone Covens series. Or, should I say, I’ve recommitted myself to finishing it. The first in the series was published in April of 2014, and I’ve been working on it off and on since then. I could sit here and come up with excuse after excuse as to why it still isn’t finished, but the plain and simple truth is I’m tired of it. It’s honestly to the point now that I just want to get it finished to get it off my back. It’s like a dark cloud hanging over my head, and writing shouldn’t be that way. But alas, it very much is. Honestly, there are days that I seriously consider not writing another damn word, but then I admit to myself that that option just isn’t possible. I’m a writer, if nothing else. It’s what I do.
So CampNano rolled around this month and I determined myself that the first draft will absolutely be completed no later than July 31st. The problem is, I’m losing so much steam on it. I’m tired of living in this world at the moment, but I’m so afraid to visit another one for a while because I just might not come back. And that just can’t happen. Now here we are, seven days into CampNano, and I’m barely trudging along. So I decided to try and find ways to keep me moving forward, instead of coming to another two or three month stop.
The first technique I’m going to try is something that I’d heard suggested before, then reiterated by John Van Kirk at the WV Writers Conference I attended last month. He had suggested, no advised, that we not write our stories in order. Write it in scenes, write it backwards, etc. Just don’t write the beginning first, because you don’t really know what the first line or chapter should be until you’ve written the end. I’ve actually found this to be somewhat true, in my personal experience. The original beginning to the first Sunstone Covens book was not the one it was eventually published with. I let a trusted friend and co-worker read it once the first draft was finished and he suggested that I add more of a lead in to the novel. I did and it actually worked out perfectly I think. Great advice from someone who doesn’t even write. However, he’s an avid reader and sometimes, they can be just as savvy about things like that as writers themselves are. So I’m going to try this method and see how it goes.
For further ideas and inspiration, I headed to my stockpile of articles on the craft, collected from the different writing magazines I’ve subscribed to over the years. I actually found a fairly recent one that addresses the exact issue I’m having. The article, Why So Many Writers Give Up Mid-Novel (& How Not To Be One of Them) by Tracey Barnes Priestly, begins by giving reasons as to why writing can stall, then asking the writer to identify what’s really holding them back. After these to integral parts of getting over the slump, she lists seven steps to keep the creative juices flowing and your fingers flying on the keyboard, a couple of which I already engage in. These would be getting together with other writers and taking a break. Yeah, I’m quite talented at that taking a break exercise. Other things she suggests are to set smaller goals, understand what really motivates you, and to be realistic when trying to change your writing habits and attitudes. It takes time to adapt.
So I’m going to take all of this advice, because it all really is sound advice, and see if I can end this month with a finished first draft. I’ll have an update on how it’s all working out next week.