When I’m writing, I find it hard to see the finish line. Especially in the first draft, when everything is messy and muddy, the characters aren’t as consistent as they should be, the plot is meandering and too slow here, too fast there, maybe a little convoluted in the middle and what began as a concise, exciting story in my head just looks like a large pile of words.
Yeah, when I’m in that stage, it’s hard to see past that pile of words, through the multiple edits and polishing and all the proofreading to the final, finished novel. The one that looks just like it did in my head, and the one people will get to read.
It’s funny when I try to talk to people about my writing process, because I always end up making it sound like something completely unpleasant. First drafts are hard for me; I work much better and faster when I’m fixing something than when I’m pulling it out of thin air. And because it’s hard, it can be difficult to keep myself motivated, even if I love the story. So I cheat a little bit, and give myself something else to focus on.
During The Edge of the Woods’ first draft, I commissioned the cover art. Which was very early for a cover, and it did require some tweaking before I was ready to publish, but it helped me see what I was working towards. A final novel: my first novel. So even when I hit a dead end, or when I realised had gotten a character all wrong, it motivated me to keep working through that first draft. And once I had, it was all downhill in the best sense. There was a lot of work to do, but it was the kind of work I like best. Revising.
And here I am again, first draft attempt number three on a new project I absolutely love. But I’m not commissioning the cover for this one. I don’t need to visualise releasing a novel the way I did last time. That’s not my motivation now, because I know it’s something I can achieve. What I’m most excited about with my new book, SUBJECT (TRAJECTORY: BOOK 1), is introducing my characters to you.
So this time, I got in touch with my friend Ben Sigas (artist behind my blog header) and described the first of my two protagonists. And what he sent me back was exactly the young woman I’ve had in my mind as I write her story.
And now she sits beside my computer, urging me on through the hard bits and the slow bits and the bits I’m not too sure about. Because I can’t wait to share her story (and the story of my second protagonist) with you.
And here she is!
But I’m a visual person. What gets you through the tough bits?