For Writers, Some Things Don’t Get Easier

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So after wrestling my WIP through another round of revisions, I’ve been thinking about how this latest WIP has been one of the toughest books for me to write yet.

I think there are probably a lot of reasons for that, but I found it interesting, because this is far from my first book. This WIP is, in fact, the twelfth MS I’ve written, and so you’d think that I’d have the whole book-writing thing down pat by down.

Except, you know, I don’t.

I mean, sure, I know my process now. I know I do my best first drafts when I fast draft and I need some air between first drafting and editing. I know my general cycle is first drafting, revising, CPing, revising, CPing, revising, maybe more CP/betaing, and maybe more revising before sending it off.

But the actual writing part? And the actual revising part? It is so tough sometimes, you guys, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I sat back and wondered if I was wasting my time with this MS.

Because the truth is, writing doesn’t get easier. And neither does having confidence in your work, at least, not all the time. And even after you’ve written WIP after WIP, you’ll still have some days (or even some entire MSs!) that spew out words ridiculously easy, then you’ll still have some days (or, again, even entire WIPs) where you have to fight for every single word. And it’s not because you’re a bad writer, or haven’t learned anything, or you’re doomed to never getting published—it’s just the way it is. And it’s something I’m about 99% sure every writer deals with, regardless of how many books they’ve written or published or not.

Pressing send doesn’t get easier, either. Whether that send is to your CP, or your agent, or the thirtieth query or whatever, sending your work out is scary every single time. And I mean, it helps that I’ve learned that the best thing for me to do is immediately distract myself after pressing send, and absolutely not looking at the manuscript or the e-mail (because, invariably, I will find a typo, or misplaced comma, or something equally horrifying). But it’s still nerve-wracking and I still glance at my e-mail more than I should wondering if today will be the day my CPs nicely tell me this WIP sucks.

So here’s the hard truth: some parts of the writing process really don’t get easier or less terrifying. But being a writer means buckling up and riding the emotional rollercoaster that is known as our careers. And it’s true that some things don’t get easier, but to me? Creating new worlds and characters and stories and sharing them with readers makes it all so very very worth it.

What parts of the writing/revision process do you find difficult? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
.@Ava_Jae says, "some parts of the writing process really don’t get easier or less terrifying." What do you think? (Click to tweet)  
What parts of the writing/revision process do you find difficult? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)


Laura Rueckert said...

Oh, I so agree! My first ms was fun and easy and the words flew from my fingers to my laptop - because I didn't know how much you can do "wrong." Now, it's like, does the first chapter draw the reader in? Are my pinch points there? Character development and apotheosis? Do I have a relationship character? Is it ok not to? What's my theme? Is my setting lifelike? Why do I never describe how things smell? Did I get rid of most filter words? Did I use "really" 10,000 times? Are my characters gazing at each other waaaay too much? And a million other questions.

What has gotten easier is the knowledge that I'm learning and improving all the time (I think). One of the major parts is learning to trust myself. So, if my first draft is 42K, is flowing like nearly-hardened concrete and is missing half the elements listed above, I tell myself it's just a matter of time and effort.

But pressing send...yeah.

Ava Jae said...

While I don't usually question myself while first drafting (as I've very happily adopted the "first drafts can/do suck" mantra) this last WIP...I kept thinking I was wasting my time and wondering why in the world I was bothering. That being said, I absolutely understand the plague of questions—it can be really tough!

Also, that first draft you describe basically described the first draft of the WIP I was referring to in this post (particularly the nearly-hardened concrete analogy... *sigh*). But lots of time and lots of effort can definitely turn it around.

I don't think there are any cures for pressing send. Except maybe wine. And really good distractions.

Laura Rueckert said...

You're right. I think most of my questions came at the planning stages or during the revisions after the first draft existed. But due to the measly 42K I had, the 2nd draft felt kind of like first-draft-part-II. :)

Writing this ms was also an experiment, since I was much stricter with planning and outlining, so that was part of the reason for the nearly-hardened concrete. As revisions progress, I'll see if it was worth it!

Aimee Hyndman said...

So true. Some books are easy to write and some are hard. My first book was easy peasy to write and terrible to edit. But I've had other manuscripts that have been a slog to write. They say practice makes perfect, but the problem is, each MS is new with its own problems that we haven't practiced for. Because we've written other books before but not THIS book before. And that's where the struggle comes in.

PS- I have a very similar drafting method. Fast draft, lock away in a dark cave for two months, edit, CP and edit some more :)

Kathleen S. Allen said...

I think by the time I get to my fourth or fifth edit I just want the editing fairy to come and finish it for me (is there such a thing? If there is, give him or her my number, please).. I don't write a fast draft, I used to but I found myself going back too much and never finishing. Now I do a quick edit as I go, it makes the editing process go faster.

I have WIP's I've started and never finished because I lost the spark. I'm a total pantser but with my new one I plotted first and it was like pulling teeth but I'm finding the chapters easier to write with an outline in front of me. Huh. I'm still going off the outline at times but it's easier. I'm going to finish a fairy-tale retell next after I'm doing writing current WIP and editing another. Editing is like finding the diamond under all that coal (a FB said that).

Ava Jae said...

I definitely find that my experience for every MS is different. While there are some things I always struggle with or usually find easier MS to MS, every MS has it's own challenges (and easy bits!) and oftentimes they're pretty different.

Also, yay for similar drafting methods!

Ava Jae said...

Yeah, I tend to look at my outlines as guidelines rather than rules. Oftentimes my characters ignore my outlines outright (though usually that's on a scene basis rather than an overarching basis) and when that happens I just let it happen. It usually turns out better than I planned anyway. :)

That being said, I find it definitely helps to know where you're going. That way you don't really get stuck nearly as often because you always know what's coming next. Generally.

Happy revising!

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