My structured routine seems to be working ok for me so far. I exercise and write content for the blog in the mornings before work and I turn my attention to Wendy’s House for an hour each evening. Or at least I try to… progress with Wendy’s House is painful and slow. I recall a similar feeling when writing Latest Mistake. The project itself seems so huge that I almost can’t face it. I am alarmingly self-conscious, as if I hadn’t written anything in my life. It’s very frustrating. I often forget in this surprisingly vulnerable time that I have written a novel before. My friends reminded me of this fact over the weekend, which helped me to put things into perspective. Fortunately a lot of my friends have been supportive in this way and have been offering advice.
Firstly, my dear friend Amanda has told me to take things at my own pace. I suppose most creative arts such as writing don’t really run by a watch. I imagine only the most disciplined and immersed authors are able to write like clockwork. And that’s not me yet. Try as I might some nights last week I just stared at the white of the Word document, with no inspiration, no words or ideas coming. It was very depressing. But I’m not a teenager anymore, or even a university student, I can’t write into the wee hours anymore, or at any time of my choosing. The restrictions of adult life are real, hence the imposed routine. It’s like I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.
The solution? Stick at it. It’s the only choice I have, I can’t give up. And I know from experience that it will get easier. I barely know my characters, where they live or what’s going to happen to them. Hell, I’ve practically been choosing names, professions and back stories out of a hat just to move forward. I’m getting far too caught up on the little details (more on that in a minute). For Latest Mistake, I could confidently write a scene because I know Blane and Amelia so well. Even now, I could probably pick that novel up and write something new for it almost without trying. Perhaps that’s why I find myself longing for it so much. It was familiar. Wendy’s House is so new, which is exciting but it’s also really challenging, more challenging than I thought it would be.
Secondly, my dear friends Alexandra and Mish reminded me to have confidence and plough on, and to edit later. This is very wise for a number of reasons. Firstly, because I can always come back to these trickier chapters later. And make no mistake, the opening chapters are always tricky-you have to get over awkward meetings, physical descriptions, location set ups etc. Secondly, because some of the tiny details I’m toiling over aren’t important at this stage. I can decide on the company where Will is doing his internship later. I can flesh out these small things once I have a story established. I think I am trying to ensure I don’t make the errors I made writing Latest Mistake, one being, perhaps at times, not focussing enough on the small details. I have even received some constructive criticism to suggest Latest Mistake didn’t have enough depth. So I suppose I have reasons to feel self-conscious.
Trying to figure out a solution to this, I am even tempted to scrap what I’ve written of the first two chapters and start again, see if I can’t rewrite them in a way that makes me more comfortable, more confident.
So my plan is twofold (I plan a lot don’t I? Perhaps that’s also my problem!). I am going to stick to my routine, but perhaps rather than focus solely on the words, I may allow myself to include in my hour each night to get to know Will and Wendy, time to figure this story out in a little more depth, time to gain a little confidence and let go of Latest Mistake. I can’t measure myself up to what has come before or else I’ll drive myself crazy. I’m sure I’ll get back to the complete freedom I used to feel when writing. Just got to work hard for it.