You are almost there! You have been a part of this book writing journey 11 months. That is nothing to sneeze at, dear writer! One of my hopes in all of this lies in whether or not you gleaned strength and wisdom on how to keep writing the book that you want. One of the things that you are going to have to confront is the bravery to keep going. Ergo, THE SMOOTH OUT.
THE SMOOTH OUT.
Noun (in the JBHarris lexicon).
This is the process by which you take the draft you are working on, and/or after revision, you are pushing towards publishing a certain work; considering current work for another revision.
This part of the writing process has to be mentioned, because it requires you to be serious, and be intentional about the work you have completed.
Don’t be afraid to examine.
Don’t be afraid to afraid and rework it.
Don’t be afraid to…continue if the story dictates.
Don’t be afraid to keep going…as the story dictates.
What is one of the things that I have noticed in my writing career (as both a writer and coach), is this fear that writers have about (1) what they have to say, and (2) being brave enough to say it.
This fear leads to writer’s block, and what I affectionately call ‘The Yipps.’ This is the fear that you have when you know that you have to write, know what you have to write is important–but can’t! This normally happens when you have a project you want to start, but don’t believe that you have the ability to do it.
The fear of being judged, fear of not having your work read–or quite simply? Just believing that you can’t. It is this fear that snowballing into everything else related to your writing and to any future projects!
There is no way around this. There is only a way through it.
The fear is unreasonable, so you, too, must become unreasonable.
Subdue the fear–by writing anyway. Don’t be afraid of what it will say, get it out first. Then we can do back and fix everything else. This is what drafts are for.
So what will you choose to do: are you going to believe the fear or …believe your talent?
Note: An excerpt of the essay, Writing Through the Wall, will be ready on 11/6, and ready for download on 11/9.
Ah, that is always the question! Who am I to dash your hopes and dreams, dearest writer? This is the only time where the end of a story is the beginning of another–and even then, series do end. However, don’t despair! This is one to the thing that I need to tell you about series versus stories.
If you are building out a world with people, specific mythology and characters, you might want to consider a series.
If you think that you story can be told with just one book, you might want to just write one story. If you want write a sequel–there is more story to tell. A series gives you more or multiple stories to tell.
Series are investments! They allow your mind to flex and wander!
Stories allow your the freedom to focus one story at a time and develop what you want to say to its conclusion.
Don’t stifle your voice by the space you think it might take up.
Writers are weird when it comes to the end of things.
Writing a book is an investment in time, resources, talent and imagination. It is perfectly natural to feel anxious when you come to the end of this process. It is an expenditure! There are famous writers that take time to decompress after finishing crafting the world with these ink and paper people. Again, a part of yourself goes into the making of these worlds and people! Why would you not want to rest?
Yet, you must. Your mind and body will insist on it. Even if you have to take breaks between drafts, this will prepare you to say everything that you need to say–so you can get it all out! One of the tricks with writing is to be brave enough so say everything you need to say, even if you need to take breaths in-between.
Writers love control. Maybe that is part of the reason why we write. However, the hardest thing about drafts it letting go of that control! Now, make no mistake. Every writer has their own process, and how many working drafts they create before they call a story finished.
But eventually you have to call the story done. If you can’t, that’s a separate issue that we will tackle later (Trust me). For me, I use 3 drafts before I call a story done. If I think that I can’t let it go after the second draft? I save it. Why? I clearly (again is this just me!) I have either more to say, or don’t know quite what know what I need to say. When that happens, I save it. This way, I can come back to it.
However, with that said, I know that if I desire to have a book be read by someone other than myself, then I need to allow someone else to read it. So, it is with that wisdom I give to you: If you want someone else to read your work other than yourself, you are going to have to let it go!
Here are three questions to ask yourself when you considering whether or not you are at the end of a work, where you either have a final draft, or entering a final draft:
1.) Is this all you wanted to say?
2.) Did you want to say anymore?
3.) If you wanted to add anymore, where would it go?
Besides, if you feel there is more to say–you can just write another book, right?
For all the writing coaching that I do, there is one consistent thing that I have seen across all of my clients: fear of getting stuck in the middle of a draft. This getting stuck is indicative of a greater problem! Yet, these problems are why I am a writing coach.
Getting stuck, that feeling of not being able to write, is one of most common reason I see writers quit. This is different than writers’ block! This is being unsure of what to do next–being stuck!–is different than not being able to write! Being stuck is anxiety-inducing, and it will make you give up.
YET–there is a way to combat it. You have to write through it. The only way to get unstuck, is to get unstuck! Don’t quit in the middle because it is hard! There are three ways to get unstuck:
1.) Take a break. Walk away from the draft for 30-90 days. Sometimes you have to give space between you and the work. That may be all you need–sometimes you need to see forest AND trees.
2.) Get a new set of eyes. It is always good to someone to look over your work and offer feedback. It might even help brainstorm!
3.) A spaced-out read through. Give yourself about a week from what your current project. After that week (or no more than a month), read through what you have. And write. Even if it is one or two pages.
What I want you to remember as Month 4 of this process ends, is that writing will require you to chase your imagination. It will require you honoring your intellectual curiosity, and be willing to have a certain amount of walking around (working) knowledge.
Now, what do I mean when I say walking around or working knowledge? This is a set of information that you have independent of other outside research or knowledge. These are just things you know because you have experience them, learned of them, or even went to school to learn. Since you know these things, research is not paramount to your writing–it is a back up!
Lydia King is a writer, and a doctor. When she wrote Opium and Absinthe, she had the medical knowledge to write about the pain her protag was experiencing and even the reason why. Yet, due to the setting of the story, she still had to research what would make the setting accurate! You cannot get away from research: it is only the amount that you must research!
Reading is the cheapest way to feed that working knowledge. Feed your head–keep reading. Your imagination will thank you.