Returning to Writing After Months Away
For the last eight months, I’ve been editing my first novel Remember. I haven’t been producing much new writing, except the occasional rewrite and blog post. Other than that no writing.
Editing is something I despise with a passion.
The whole process is frustrating. You repeatedly reread something you wrote multiple times, changing little things. You find new mistakes each time. It never seems to progress as you’re editing. It’s annoying when you can’t see your own mistakes for a really long time. Cutting things is a painful experience for me. And after months of work, the changes make the story better.
I cut my story in half. Typos weren’t there anymore. It’s easier to read. All my big repeat issues were gone. It seemed never ending, but it does, end that is.
The last two weeks, I’ve been writing short stories.
I wrote two so far. This is how that made me feel. I learned a few things about writing along the way. There are a ton of articles about writing tips on Medium, but I haven’t seen any like this.
I thought about these stories before I entered my editing phase.
The first one Audition is about a woman auditioning at a musical college and batting her nerves. Then there is Up and Down. It’s about a woman with rapid cycling bipolar depression. She ran out of meds, and then she has to survive until she can get more. I write a lot of literary and psychological stuff.
I ran through them again in my head.
I don’t write any pre stuff before the first draft. I go through a story in my head word for word twice, before sitting down to write. That’s great because I can’t write except for a few hours. I can’t take notes because of my physical impairments.
I follow my routine.
Without fail, before sitting to write, I feel like I can’t do it. Starting up my computer and putting on my headphones makes me feel ready. Then I don’t feel I can’t write.
Starting with an empty page is tough, so write below earlier work.
Writing on an empty page makes me anxious about writing. I start below something else I’ve written. Then, I have visual evidence I can write.
Another thing that kept me writing was posting my daily word counts.
Twitter. That added some accountability. I couldn’t post if I didn’t write. Unlike Facebook, everyone in the world can see your tweets again. It added some social pressure I needed.
Writing as a practice every day makes writing a second instinct.
That is how I write novels. A small chunk each day. It turns writing from something you want to do to something you need to do. You have this need to write every single day. At that stage, not writing bugs you. Eventually you write longer and longer because you’ve a grown your creativity by writing every day.
After abstaining for a while, you have a burst of creativity energy.
I’m not sure how to quantify that in better terms. Writing blog posts doesn’t require much. Fiction writing requires more, and poetry the most. My first week of writing, I wrote Audition. That being my first new writing in eight months made my sentences more lyrical and rhyming than I usually write. In week two, I wrote Up and Down. My writing was closer to baseline after my creative energy surplus was finished.
It’s like that rule of magic used sometimes. The first act of magic is advanced and powerful, and it’ll take years of learning to do the same thing again. I’m thinking that’s because for years they haven’t done magic the energy builds up. Then they return to baseline until they practice up to that level on a daily basis.
What I plan in my head doesn’t land perfectly on the page.
That would be impossibly difficult. Something magical happens and the story grows in new and unexpected ways. And it works way better than you ever thought possible. It’s like taking Felix Felicis. Things magically lead you in unexpected ways to the goal you’d always thought was impossibly difficult. The path is circuitous and strange but things work out great.
Writing requires the most unconscious activation.
Something strange happens when you’re writing. Your brain plans stuff behind your back. If you don’t write, it all goes to waste. I have some personal evidence. Each day I wrote, it was 1,500 to 1,600 words except the day it was 1,300. I didn’t count except twice, once halfway through and once after. The unconscious is very good at solving problems with many variables. Getting very similar word counts is a problem with many variables.
That’s why writing tips are odd.
Write a few hours at most each day. Follow a routine. Write with the computer screen blank. Don’t edit as you go. Take breaks. Sleep the right amount. Eat. Drink water. Act like your character. Take notes all the time. Read your writing out loud. Print out your drafts. I don’t have the references for all those tips.
I rolled my eyes when I first read those things.
It all seemed so ridiculous to do. It seemed so disconnected from writing. It all helps though.
I hope this helps someone out there.