The other day I posted a meme on social media that said the following:
Expect nothing and appreciate everything
A short conversation ensued and at some point I said that “go with the flow” needed to be my daily manta.
I am an over-thinker, which inevitably creates problems that were never there in the first place. I also second guess myself…a lot. All of this leads to self-induced stress that throws my inner world into a state of chaos.
That’s kinda where I am with my writing at the current moment. It’s no secret I have major issues with getting a handle on my inner critic. I’m doing battle with her right now as I slog through writing the first draft of a novel. I haven’t gotten very far because I keep questioning what the hell I’m doing. Starting and stopping. Starting again, then stopping to outline because I’m not sure where the story’s going.
My over-thinking went into overdrive and I needed a break from the chaos, so I set the project aside. It’s been a week and a half since I last opened up the computer file. But I think I’m ready to go back to it now. I’m going to stop outlining and go back to the writing. Ultimately, the story will show itself in the writing. Outlining can be saved for those times when I’ve hit a brick wall and need to figure out how to get unstuck.
I think the best thing I can do as a writer is lower my expectations, appreciate that I have the ability to pursue something that I enjoy doing, and try going with the flow for once to see where it might take me.
Just a quickie:
I’m five days into Camp NaNoWriMo and my progress at this point has been at a slug’s pace. As of this writing, I’ve managed 1457 words of my 25K goal in the first four days (haven’t written yet today). That’s an average of about 365 words a day. If I keep up this not-so-breakneck pace, I should have my 25K words in a little over 2 months from now. The good news is that I am making the time to write, whether I feel like it or not. My true goal here is to get back into a regular daily writing habit, and so far that’s gone as planned.
I’ve had to put writing aside for a while. I really hate it when that happens. Life can be kinda sucky at times. Sometimes we’re forced to do things we don’t really want to do, and in the process the activities we do enjoy fade into the background.
In January, after another round of layoffs at the company I work for, I decided to go back to school. The course I’m enrolled in is for another job in healthcare, a medical records type job like the one I have now. A job I may not like, but one that pays better. For almost three months, I’ve done nothing but work and study, study and work. Burnout is setting in and it’s making me cranky and stressed out.
Over the weekend, I realized that it’s been a really long time since I’ve written anything. Then I remembered the “estranged sister” story I’d been working on last year. I hadn’t gotten very far, just some brainstorming and figuring out some of the characters. I read over all of my notes and feel re-energized about this story. Blowing off this course and spending all of my spare time writing is a very tempting thought, but writing doesn’t pay the bills…yet. So instead, I blew off school tonight and worked for two solid hours on my outline, and guess what? I’m not cranky anymore.
Making time for writing needs to become a priority again. For me, it’s an escape from my troubles and definitely a cure for crankiness.
I’m a planner. My house is littered with five million notebooks filled with lists and snippets of ideas – weekly menus, shopping lists, to do lists, story ideas. I jot things down as a way to organize my thoughts, as well as to help guide me in a particular direction.
When it comes to writing stories, I’m a person who prefers to know where the story is going before I begin writing.
There are plenty of ways to go about outlining a novel. If you’re a minimalist, a simple one-page bullet list of key scenes might be enough to get you started. There are some writers who create complex, detail-oriented outlines that are fifty or more pages long. Personally, I’m looking for an outlining method somewhere in between. It’s very easy for me to linger far too long in the planning stages of a story. I think it’s just my way of avoiding the inevitable – writing the draft.
Here are a few articles I’ve found explaining different ways you can outline your next novel:
For me, the outlining process is a way of fleshing out the original idea and figuring out if I can form that idea into a full-fledged story. I think it’s where I’m the most creative in the whole writing process because the ideas just seem to continually flow.
Knowing ahead of time where the story is going gives me a much needed boost of confidence that moves me from the plotting phase to writing that first draft.