Breaking through

Sometimes writing is super easy! It’s like running – when you’re in shape and you go out running, you pass a point and have a period where it feels as though you could run forever. Or at least I remember having that feeling, back when I used to run regularly. ๐Ÿ™‚ With writing, for a long stretch it felt easy. The words just flowed, whether I was writing something new, or revising an existing draft.

This last story was not like the others…

Writing “The Least Merry Elf” felt hard – but even with that story, the writing itself was easy, just unusually slow for me. My assessment afterwards was that I’d had a very tight schedule for months, and that I needed a break from writing something new, and should work on a novel instead, because I’d written so many new short stories in a row.

The story I’m wrapping up was entirely different. I’m finally in the home stretch, but wow has it been a slog. I’ve narrowed my issues down to the following:

  • One of the side characters had the wrong color name. Go ahead and laugh, but the instant I did a find/replace and changed his name to one that felt more green and less icy blue, the story felt easier. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • I was making significant revisions to an existing story draft. I’ve found that it can often be challenging to make hefty changes to something that’s already written – especially if it’s been a long time since I wrote the original draft. There are already words on the page, and making significant structural changes is harder because you can see what’s already there, and have to stay focused on what you want to turn it into. (Making minor revisions to an existing draft always seems to be easy.)
  • The protagonist in this particular story wasn’t sufficiently developed. She was an okay character, but I wanted to have more emotional depth. So I had to add that in while drastically revising the story.
  • I had taken way, way too much time off from writing regularly, and I kept procrastinating. And then when I’d write I’d find myself feeling fretful, which rarely happens to me. Usually when I write something and know immediately that it will need to be revised, I make a note and don’t think about it again until I cycle back through the manuscript on an editing pass. This time, I’d write a sentence or two, then would have to fight to keep myself moving on. (I did plenty of writing-related things during my lull, just not much actual writing.)

Being a Pollyanna means, of course, that I’m looking at all of this as a lesson. ๐Ÿ™‚ Once I got far enough along to figure out how I was holding myself back, I was able to come up with this list – and to think about how I can try to avoid this type of situation in the future. The thing that stands out the most is I need to do my best to never take so long of a break from writing. It didn’t seem like a problem at first – I was doing lots of other writing tasks (bundling, making book covers, etc.), there was an election, I was preparing for interviews for my day job, then there were holiday activities. (Four weekends in a row, which probably explains a few things…) But I need to be more cognizant and less complacent.

Hopefully this will be easy, since I have set some pretty hefty goals for myself for 2017!

Joint nibbling on Mr. Raccoon.

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