Sunday, July 28, 2013

Getting the Words on Paper

I plan to finish the first draft of my current project by the end of summer.

There. I said it. That makes it extra official, doesn't it?

This project has me super excited. But that first draft? It can be scary. Perfect example: I went to bed Friday feeling unsatisfied with the words I'd written that day, feeling more than my share of self-doubt. Tonight, on the other hand, I'm excited! I have new, fun ideas for the next scenes I'm writing, and things are starting to tie together--big picture things. You know that clarity that surfaces now and then when you just stick with it? I'm dipping into it now. Oo-la-la!

Of course, I have no idea how I'll be feeling two or three days from now. Writing a novel means getting stuck and unstuck more times than I can count, questioning myself, judging myself, encouraging myself. To me, it can mean feeling smart one day and like a poseur the next.

A couple years ago, Jesse Joshua Watson was on a panel at the SCBWI Western Washington conference, and he said (regarding our projects), "All we can do is our best at the time."

So simple, right? Yet I've been reminding myself of his words almost every day this summer because they give me strength or courage or whatever it is that helps me get the words down. Trying to write perfectly leaves me paralyzed. But I can do my best. And doing my best long enough can lead to something that makes me proud.

If you haven't been to Jesse Joshua Watson's blog, check out this post, The Problem in the Process. I love it. It's beautiful and true.

18 comments:

Medeia Sharif said...

I like to announce my intentions on my blog because it motivates me.

Good luck with the draft. You can do it.

Anita Saxena said...

I agree with Medeia. If you put your goals in writing, you're more likely to achieve them. I hope too also finish the draft I'm working on by mid August or so. And I agree it has been an up and down, stuck and unstuck process. But we've got to just keep at it. Best of luck! You can do it!

Dawn Simon said...

Aw, thank you both for the good wishes and support!

Medeia, I enjoy reading your goals. It's inspiring!

Anita, I agree about putting goals in writing, especially since I'm such a box checker. I keep my critique group and a few other people aware of my goals; it helps with accountability. :) Good luck finishing your draft by mid-August!

Faith E. Hough said...

You can do it! :)

Margaret Nevinski said...

Dawn, thanks for sharing your goals and for directing us to Jesse's blog. You both inspire me!

Dawn Simon said...

Thank you, Faith! :)

Margaret, you inspire me, too! xo

Caryn Caldwell said...

Yes! You captured the feeling of writing a new novel exactly. One day it's up, the next it's down. And there will always be new things to figure out, even as you're figuring out other problems.

Good luck finishing your draft this summer!

Theresa Milstein said...

Oh, that up and down ride of the rough draft. The whole writing life is a roller coaster! But we create something from nothing. Sure, it's messy. But we do what others only dream of. Keep writing!

Dawn Simon said...

Thanks, Caryn! It's so true that there will always be new things to resolve! I'm definitely taking a macro to micro approach.

Thanks to you, too, Theresa! There are huge highs and lows, huh? Yet we love it. I'll keep writing! :)

Theresa Milstein said...

Yes. I like the quote, "All we can do is our best at the time."

Steven J. Wangsness said...

It's really like being on a long hike -- you just keep putting one foot forward until you finally arrive. Good luck with the writing!

Dawn Simon said...

Hi, Theresa! :)

That's true, Steven. And since I'm an outliner, I have a map! Thanks!

Crystal Collier said...

The more you do it, the more confidence you gain. I think book 1 is the hardest. Eight novels later, I still have those moments where I get stuck, but they come less often, and the stories tend to weave themselves together more prolifically.

Keep at it--and when all else fails, break out the cheese, eh?

Dawn Simon said...

Hi, Crystal! This isn't my first novel, though it probably sounds like it is! That said, it's different from the others in a big and wonderful way (future post). Each novel has highs and lows, and I feel especially vulnerable to it in the first draft.

Thank you for the encouragement! And cheese...mmm. :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Publishing is a roller coaster. Heck, writing is one too. Our emotions go everywhere. And if they don't, you must be doing something wrong. :)

Dawn Simon said...

Hi, Stina! Publishing and writing can have super high highs and dipping lows--I totally agree. And speaking of highs: CONGRATS on your excellent news! Go, Stina!! I'm thrilled for you!

Jemi Fraser said...

I love those first drafts - that's my favourite part! Now when I get to the ReWriting, that's when everything turns scary!!! :)

Love that advice - it really is true. I often say to my students "your best is ALWAYS good enough" - guess I have to believe it too :)

Dawn Simon said...

Hi Jemi, I bet you're a great teacher! Those lucky students!