Monday, May 26, 2008

Pushing Through

Last week, I posted a message to the American Christian Fiction Writers e-Loop asking for advice on pushing through my novel.

Here's the deal: I love my story. I believe in my story. I am excited about the possibility of it being published, along with two more books in the projected series. I have about 10,000 words to go before I type The End (which will be a HUGE accomplishment in itself - a first for me). The first several pages of this particular manuscript has finaled or placed in three separate contests. I know there's potential there.


As I read over my previous chapters, I am getting discouraged and overwhelmed. I'm thinking about all the work I have to do. Fleshing out characters, adding depth, inserting scenes with more dialogue, subplots that need to be more thoroughly developed...ugh.

So after posting my "poor me" message to the Loop, I received oodles and oodles of responses from published authors, offering encouragement, advice, and a kick in the pants (which is what I really need most, by the way).

I was so blessed by these and wanted to share a few of the quotes I received. If you're struggling with pushing through and finishing your novel, I hope the following tips will help you as much as they helped me.

(The following quotes were used with permission. There are a couple who haven't gotten back to me yet, but if and when they do, I'll add them to the mix):

"Welcome to the world of writing, Lynda! LOL This happens EVERY TIME. With every story. I make myself sit down and write. There's no easy answer, it's just pure discipline. You do it because it has to be done. Once that first draft is done, then the fun REALLY starts! When you have that rough draft, you have something you can work with. The real work is still ahead of you. I just got my edits back this morning and I'm rubbing my hands together and about to plunge into my favorite part of the writing process. But to get here, I had to get that stinky first draft done. LOL So just do it. That's all I can tell you. It's discipline." - Colleen Coble, Suspense/Romance/Mystery Author of zillions books (Colleen's Website)

"Here's the deal (and I'm sure I'm oversimplifying) but I think most manuscripts are sold based on premise and writing style/skill. It's in that editing process, when you've had time to sit back and take a few month's worth of breaths that you can go deeper in your development. If the idea and writing are solid, well the rest verges on gravy. And you'll probably find that, as you work with a good editor, it's just as much about cutting as adding." - Allison Pittman, Historical Romance Author of "The Crossroads of Grace" series (Allison's Website)

"One suggestion. Stop pushing. Breathe. You are forcing it, and that will never work. Here's my honest advice (from someone who has FINISHED 23 full-length novels). Find a comfortable chair. Sit down and breathe several times very deeply. Instead of you running your mind, let it go. Let it slide through the story you now have, not critiquing it but living and enjoying it. As you do this, thank God for what He's already given you in this story and then ask for more. Ask for God's view on the ending, how does He want it to go, ask Him to show you the scenes in vivid detail about what comes next and how it ends. When you finish this, you should have more ideas about how to go forward." - Staci Stallings, Inspirational Romance Author (Staci's Website)

"Truly, for me it has been a matter of butt glue! That, and ignoring rewrites till it's rewrite time. Draft time is draft time, non-negotiable. Besides, as a good friend of mine (Donna Sundblad) once said, "You can fix bad. You can't fix blank." So I just throw the story on the page and worry about fixing it later on. My first novel needed 8 thorough edits before it was ready on my end, so anything shoddy is sure to get picked up at some point. so... just write it!!" - Grace Bridges, Science Fiction Author (Grace's Website)

"My advice? 1000 words a day. NO EXCUSES! Your book will be done in 10 days. Then set it aside.
Start a new book, maybe even finish it. So you can distance yourself from all the revisions.
Then, a month from now, when you're 30,000 words into your NEXT book (at a 1000 words a day) dive in at the beginning." - Mary Connealy, Historical Romance Author (Mary's Website)

"One trick I've done is to go ahead and write the ending/last chapter. Then I go back to where I stopped and write up to that final scene/chapter. But that's not terribly "in order," is it? :) And yes, it's very tempting to start thinking about a future project. You're right!! It's so much fun when an idea is fresh and new to us. But keep working on that last 10K. And don't work on "fixing" it until you're done. :)" - Lynette Sowell, Fiction and Non-Fiction Author (Lynette's Website)

I just want to say THANK YOU to these ladies who offered such awesome encouragement! And a special thanks to Grace Bridges for reminding me to invest in some Butt Glue (for some reason, that term just whacks my funny bone every time!)

Great tips, right? Hopefully, these words of wisdom will help other aspiring authors like me. I am now sufficiently motivated to finish that darn novel! As soon as I find that butt glue (tee hee).


Donna Sundblad said...

Hi Lynda,

Google let me know my name came up here on you blog and thought I'd check it out. I'm glad I did. I'll be back. Lots of good information here for writers.

Donna Sundblad

Mary Connealy said...

So, girl, it's been five days since I gave you my sterling advice. :)
Tell me you're written 5,000 words.

Catherine West said...

HI, Lynda,
I meant to chime in on this one as well, but I figured you probably had enough people telling you what to do. :0) If it makes you feel any better, I get the same way, except it tends to happen around the middle of the book. Because my novels run around 100 K, by the time I'm pushing 50, I tend to zone out. Not good, I know. It's not that I don't like the story, but I think I get a bit discouraged because it seems like I have SO much more to write, and it's JUST THE FIRST DRAFT!!!
I find if I put it aside for a bit, work on something else and go over plotlines etc.. in my head while I'm laying on the beach, oh, I mean cleaning...when I get back to it, it goes faster.
Don't sweat it. You can do it!!
And I'll give you my motto again, "When it's not fun anymore, stop."