This morning, a friend shared how frustrating writing our first novel can be. He said he had listened to a podcast where the author spent nine years writing her first book. So let’s talk about the frustration first. We spend hours in front of the computer typing nonstop (that’s on good days when we’re inspired and have no interruptions). Sometimes, we get tempted to go back and tweak the manuscript. This can be counterproductive (I’m speaking from personal experience and what peers have shared). When we stop to edit previous chapters or paragraphs if we’re working on a short story, we hinder the writing process and sever our muse. And let’s not even talk about writer’s block or computer malfunction (that’s for another blog post).
How can we fix this issue? Years ago, one of my mentors advised me always to pick up where I left off. If we go back to earlier chapters, we’ll most likely start deleting parts that could be important in the storyline because we’re not being objective. Leave this job for the beta readers or the editor. Our job is to finish the book.
Writing a book can be likened to a plant’s growth. Let me share an analogy. I planted bell peppers seeds in pots. A patch of three-inch shoots didn’t make it because my kitty cat thought she had hit the catnip jackpot. The ones I was able to salvage started growing strong. They started flowering, and one day, I caught a wild peacock red-handed feasting on the leaves and flowers of one of the pots. But he was too handsome to deny him that joy. So I moved the pots to my kitchen window, and now safe from felines and fowls, they are in full bloom: I have two peppers! Patience and dedication paid off.
So what’s the point, you might ask? I didn’t give up. The growing process of the peppers continued despite the merciless attacks. The plants themselves did the growth process; I only provided watering and nurturing. We, writers, start with an idea, develop it, flesh it out, and improve it. Then, once the book reaches maturity, we ask peers, beta readers, and editors to help us refine it.
How do you nurture your writing? Are you guilty of revisiting earlier chapters?
Photo by Claudia Del Balso
Photo By Claudia Del Balso