AT LAST. AT LONG, LONG LAST, MY FRIENDS!!!!!!
(I tried to think of a good title for this post for about ten minutes, but inspiration isn’t striking, so I’m gonna call it like I see it!!! Hahah!)
There was a time when men were kind. When their voices soft and their words inviting–
Har har har, I kid!
But in fact, there was a time when I thought this draft would never end and this day would never come. I HAVE FINALLY FINISHED MY DRAFT OF FOX STORY!!!!!
This was a really hard draft to complete and there really were times that I thought the end seemed so far away. Even when I was nearing the end, I felt like I was no closer to finishing this draft because it was going so, so slowly. In addition, my motivation was dipping low. Every time I was writing, the words had to be pulled from me like teeth. I think I was writing only a couple hundred per hour, which made me go like this:
It was frustrating to say the least.
There were couple reasons for this, one of which is that I started over a few times while in the middle of this draft, as seen in this post here. And I don’t think I blogged about it, but I end up going back to the beginning again towards the end of April when things got stuck and I realized I was going to have to go back. While I don’t regret doing this because it was all for the better, it made this second draft–which is already the most grueling part of the process–even… gruel-ier. And if at all possible, I’m going to try not to do this again.
I know there are some writers who revise as they draft (Laini Taylor comes to mind) as well as a few of my writer friends and it works for them. But for me, I need to have a sense of completion. Even though there will be many drafts to come, that sense of finishing a draft is what keep me going. It’s when a story feels never-ending that I lose my steam. I started this rewrite way back when in November. It’s July now. That’s… nine months! And I really thought I was going to go crazy.
I’m so excited to be finished with this second draft. (I actually have no idea what number to call this draft, since I went back a few times? So I’m just going to stick to Draft 2). It’s still very awful and it needs so much work–especially my third act, which is in major need of reconstruction as it is very rushed and disjointed–but it feels so good to know that I am done with this round.
Anyways, I feel like I’ve learned a lot (as always) writing this draft and I wanted to share! So here goes!
Reading is Integral to Writing
I cannot stress how important this is. I honestly had no idea how much my reading affected my writing, but I was proven time and time again during these long months that when I don’t read, my writing suffers.
For the first time ever really, I went through a really bad book slump toward the end of April and beginning of May? Timeline is a bit murky, but regardless, I was having the toughest time reading. I’m not sure what exactly caused this slump (and we may perhaps never know! I do have my suspicions, but I’m not going to get into them today 🙂 ) but it was kind of brutal. I wanted to read so badly, but every time I would start a book, it failed to suck in me and inevitably end up putting it down.
I came to an all-time low when I realized that I had still not read Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh, which was one of my most anticipated reads from, as you know, one of my favorite authors! Normally, I would have been so excited that I would have binge-read it immediately. And yet, it sat on my shelf, unopened. This might not seem like a big deal, but it hit me hard because that was just very unlike me. And even though I had been waiting for Flame in the Mist ever since it was announced, I had absolutely no desire to read it.
(For the record, I still haven’t gotten to Flame in the Mist, though I have plans to binge-read it very soon… perhaps as soon as today, might I dare say?!!)
During this time, I struggled hard with writing. The words were not coming. I was procrastinating and dreading having to open my laptop. I dragged my feet and whined a lot.
I struggled with trying to read a lot of different books before ultimately putting them down. I would finish a few, but it still wasn’t quite hitting the stop. Somewhere in between there though, I began my reread The Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. I read these books as a child (around ten or something years ago?) and enjoyed them, so when Thick as Thieves came out earlier this year, I decided the time was ripe for a reread!
I don’t know how to tell you guys, but this series is everything to me. Particularly, King of Attolia. I literally can’t talk about it–or even think about it–because I get overwhelmed by the emotions and it makes me cry every time. Literally. I love them so much.
Anyways, I became utterly consumed with these books and suddenly–everything was a little bit better. The words came easier, I got into the flow of writing. I had ideas for subplots I wanted to weave in for my next round of revisions and thoughts for what I wanted in a sequel.
It felt like taking a breath of fresh air after being held underwater for a long time.
I had my second experience with this just a few days ago when I started reading a book that I wanted to like but found that I was very apathetic to within the first couple of chapters. I forced myself to continue reading in the hopes that it would catch my interest; it was not long before I started dreading opening this book and as a result, I stopped reading.
And once again, my writing suffered for it. The feet dragging began. The lack of motivation. The words did not flow, but eked.
When I noticed that I was dreading reading, I knew it was time to stop. I don’t DNF books often and rarely do I do it consciously (many times I will just put a book down with the intention of coming back to it later and then never do), but this one had to go.
I picked up Finnikin of the Rock instead and decided to reread. And it was the best decision I could have made. First of all because I LOVE the Lumatere Chronicles and because Melina Marchetta is absolutely brilliant and I cannot get over how good these books are. And secondly, because I was able to write again.
Coincidence? *shrug* Maybe–
“Oh, Sherlock. What do we say about coincidences?”
“The universe is rarely so lazy.”
–but I don’t think it is.
I hear a lot of authors–published authors mainly–say they don’t have time to read anymore. That always made me sad because I could not imagine not reading for a sustained period of time, but now, I understand just how important it is to keep reading and in particular, to read/consume books/movies/tv shows/music–anything really that speaks to you and inspires you. It made WORLDS of a difference when I was reading a book I loved. I cannot emphasize this enough. I know sometimes, it can seem like you’re “wasting” time reading when you could be writing, but wow. Reading is so, so integral to writing. I had no idea how much I was inspired on a subconscious level. I had no idea how much reading inspired me to write.
Writing starts with reading: This is truly one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned and I am so grateful for it.
“Magic Hour is when actors look their best.”
Or in the case of writing, magic hour is when writers write their best. This one is more of a personal revelation for me, but I realized while writing this monster of a draft that I write best in the evening and night time!
This was HUGE for me. I am a morning person and consequently believed for the past few years that I wrote best in the morning and during the day. Because of this, I always stopped writing at about 8 o’ clock or so, give or take? I went to bed early so that I could get up early in the morning and write all day. It makes me laugh now because wow, I could not have been more wrong. I write best when the sun has set. I think of all the Magic Hours I must have missed and just laugh.
In hindsight, this was kind of obvious and I don’t know how I went this long without realizing it. It’s so clear to me now. It’s just easier to get into the writing groove during the evening for some reason. I don’t know whether it’s because I know everything I have to do is done for the day or what? I don’t really why but I’m not going to question it too much! Conversely, I realized that my worst time of day to write is the afternoon. Again, this should have been obvious to me considering that after lunch is when I get super sleepy and tired. And as for mornings? They seem to be the happy medium between the two! I don’t get into the writing flow as easily as the evening, but it’s a lot better than the afternoons!
This information has been vastly helpful because now I am allocating my chores and other tasks to the afternoon when my brain isn’t working and making sure that I keep my mornings and evenings in particular, free to write!
This isn’t anything I learned from writing, but I just thought I’d note that last night was the latest I have ever stayed up to write! I think I finished my draft at around 1:30 am! I have never stayed up that late before to write! I usually stop writing anywhere from 9:30-10:30pm and go to bed at around 11pm after reading for an hour or so (like I said, early bird!! 😀 ) Anyways, I don’t know why I find that so interesting but I do > . < New record!!!
Anyways, those two things were the biggest things I learned from writing this crazy draft. They were both such great revelations and I’m so glad for them! I’m so, so excited to be done and I can’t wait to start a fresh round of revisions! I’m planning on spending the next few days reading through what I have (and cringing a lot) and taking notes on what to fix and all that jazz. I’m really excited because I think–knock on wood–that I’m finally at the point where it’s going to be more revising than it is rewriting, which is my favorite part of writing!
Oh! One more thing!!! I’m also super excited because though I cannot afford it and probably shouldn’t have, I bought some new candles as a reward for finishing!!!!! I recently discovered my love of candles and the mad, obsessive buying has begun O___o It’s super nice because I’ve been lighting them when I write and it’s definitely so cozy and writerly! I am super excited to try these new bookish candles and can’t wait for them to arrive!
Wow, this post a lot longer than I’d intended! I’m going to stop here! And as always, I’m going to try and be better about posting, but no promises! Thank you all for reading!!! ❤