The conversation I want to have with you in this blog is something that a lot of us struggle with. It is a struggle for me. When I published my previous blog, “Let It Simmer,” some of you mentioned that you tend to let things simmer too long because you are fussing over everything you’ve written trying to make it perfect. I was guilty of this early in my writing process as well. One of the things I did while letting my writing simmer was to spend too much time editing one chapter instead of writing new ones. I kept going back to my first chapter and spending hours cleaning it up or trying to perfect it. Eventually, this took a toll on my motivation.
I love editing, however, I use a different part of my brain to edit than I do to write new material. The editing part of my brain became overwhelmed with trying to perfect my first chapter and writing my novel started to feel like a chore.
The most exciting part of writing my novel for me is starting a new chapter and getting the story out of my head and into my document. I get to make my ideas real by putting them down on a page and I get to empty my head and make room for new ideas. I get to use all the research and outlining I have done and turn it into chapters. There is nothing more satisfying than finishing yet another chapter in my book.
Unfortunately, when I get stuck editing the same chapter, my ideas for the rest of the book are also stuck in my brain collecting dust, and my book is no longer moving forward.
The last thing I wanted was to make my novel writing process a chore. I wanted to be excited every time I sat down to work on it. One of the values I live by when it comes to creative work is, “if you’re not having fun, then why are you doing it?” I believe that creative work should always be fun, exciting, or fulfilling in some way otherwise you are wasting your time and your skill.
I had to make a pact with myself. I vowed that during this part of the process I am only focusing on quantity not quality. My goal is to get the entire story out of my head and all the chapters written before I even think about going back and editing. This has taken a lot of pressure off of me. I’m no longer aiming for perfection. I’m just letting the words flow out of me.
Once I made this decision, I was amazed at how quickly I was getting through my novel (being quarantined at home for a month also helped). Now I just focus on putting down as many words as I can and drafting as many chapters as I can. No, my chapters are not even close to perfect. They’re not all the right length or contain all the information I want them to. They’re not all polished and ready for an agent. But, they exist. That is my only goal in this part of my writing process.
In my upcoming blogs, I will share more of my process with you and, soon, I will introduce you all to my characters! I would love to hear about your experiences and suggestions that could make this journey more fun and interesting for me. Feel free to leave comments below or contact me personally through this website.
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Stay tuned for more #browngirlwrites blogs. Next blog: “First Draft: Research Tips and Resources.”
Happy Writing! :)
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Art by Loso F. Perez of Prime Vice Studios
These blogs explore my writing process and highlight my favorite writers and books.