In writing, it is SO easy to start something.
I mean, I swear a week doesn’t go by without me coming up with another idea. Like Oh my gosh, what if some guy could travel between universes? And what about a girl with earth powers? What if everything we knew was destroyed? I could write about that!
I’ve known since I was in middle school I wanted to tell stories. Even back then, I dreamed about writing books and getting published. In high school, I attempted to write three books at different periods.
None of them made it past chapter ten and were scraped. (The last one however was like… the great-grandmother of my first book. The story wasn’t working, but I saved several elements and characters to do an extreme plot revision to create the book I have now)
As you can see, starting something is easy. Sitting down to bang out a first chapter or write a character profile is easy. It’s a lot harder to stay focused on a single project for months at a time and keep going as it!
Like Stephen King once said, “Writing fiction, especially a long work of fiction can be difficult, lonely job; it’s like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub. There’s plenty of opportunity for self-doubt.”
And he’s so right! You get so far into the project and then start to look back at it. Man, my writing sucks… I thought it was good, but this is really garbage… Will anyone actually want to read this? What if people hate it? Maybe so-and-so was right and I should go back to collage to do something actually useful..
So how do you beat back the self-doubt and stay focused long enough to finish the first draft? Because I PROMISE, once you have a first draft, you have something to work with. It’s so much easier to fix bad writing.
Not to mention, you feel like you’re on top of the world. If you can finish a first draft, you can do anything!
This is how I stay focused long enough to finish.
First, I make goals for myself.
Like first, I want to finish the first draft in five months. So I plan out and set the date. My current date to finish the book I’m working on is beginning of April.
Next, I set my goal for how I’m going to complete this BIG goal.
So I can finish it by April, I’m going to write around 1000 words every time I sit down for a writing session. If I miss 1000 tonight (Like I only write 800) then tomorrow, I’ll write 12000ish. If I ever have a time where I’m just on a roll and so into it, I will just keep going and see what comes out. Anything extra is always a bonus.
I also know it’s unreasonable to know I will write everyday (dang work keeps getting in the way). So I try for at least four or five days a week. Again, anything extra is a pleasant bonus, but not expected.
These goals work pretty well for me, even if I’m the only person who knows about it. I can’t stand breaking a goal. If the last week, I have to give up sleep and write for three to four hours a night, then so be it.
The other way I stay on top of my writing is by having a beta reader. Someone else who’s always there to look over my work and tell me what works and what needs to be fixed.
I’m not the kind of person who waits until the end to send someone. I’ll write a chapter, let it sit a bit, revise it and then send it out.
This helps so much, because not only do I get a small boost of confidence, I’m also getting feedback in real time. This is probably why I didn’t finish in high school, I was trying to write alone!
Not to mention, it makes my beta reader want to read more. It’s hard not to write when I get, I really love this part, what happens next? When do I get the next part? Did you write last night, I need to know what happens next!
So this is how I stay on top of my writing and keep everything going. While it works for me, I’m sure it can’t be the only way. Does anyone else have another, different way they stay writing?
Or do you ever experience self-doubt? Let me know! =)