Now, at the word “peril”, some will run away screaming from this post. You could do that. OR, you could look at the word “peril” and think, “Ooo an adventure! A trial to prove myself!” It doesn’t matter. The plain fact is, writing is hard work. Some days, you won’t feel much like writing. You won’t feel like editing or rewriting. You won’t feel like brainstorming. If you’re so burnt out that your brain has turned to mush, it’s probably time to take a wee break and chill a bit. If you’re not quite to that point, but you’re just feeling blah about what you’re writing, time to bite the bullet and jump back in the game. You’d be surprised how many hurdles you can overcome just by simply plowing on ahead.
What are the many perils of writing you might ask? Here are *most* of them. I say “most”, because some authors do different processes with their writing.
1. BRAINSTORMING — Even if you’re a “mostly” pantser like me, there are still moments for brainstorming your story–typically at the beginning of the novel journey. You might like to brainstorm at your computer with a Word document (or whatever word processor you use). You might like to journal your thoughts. Regardless of how you do it, you’ll likely send a good bit of time brainstorming. For some, this is an immensely exciting time. For others, it can be daunting, scary, and filled with danger. Sometimes, I experience both of these extremes. Often, though, it is somewhere in the middle. Occasionally, I can easily create new ideas for a story. Many times, however, I stare at a blank page in frustration. It’s just a peril of writing and you MUST face it in order to succeed. Some writers simply use brainstorming as a chance to roughly sketch characters and certain plot points. Others use this time to completely map out their entire story. Do whichever works best for you as a writer.
2. WRITING — The fun part! Well, most of the time it’s fun. Other times, it’s like trying to pull a giant inflated balloon through the eye of a needle. It can be extremely challenging to get the correct words on the page over and over and over again. Some days, you’re mind is firing a hundred ideas a minute and you end up with a huge word count by the end of your writing session. Some days, you struggle to make it to 1,000. Whatever you make it to on an given day, be glad you sat down and DID it. Writing is tough. It is a lot to expect from your mind when you sit down every day (or mostly every day) and demand that it produce new worlds, people, places, and stories. Still, it is one of the most worthwhile jobs in the world and even for those who aren’t full-time or even part-time authors, it is a worthy past time. Keep up your writing schedule unless you are facing an emergency or vacation. It will help you to overcome writer’s blocks and other hurdles.
3. READING — Reading your manuscript should be a priority for you. You shouldn’t just wait until the very end of your first draft to glance back over your manuscript. You should be doing “checks” along the way. For instance, every day that I sit down to write, I read over what I wrote the day before and make changes, notes, or edits. Occasionally, I’ll read through the entire novel again up to the point I’m currently writing. It is a big help for stimulating new ideas for the plot, but it also serves to remind you of the overall story, nitty gritty details, and the development of your characters. It can get boring after you’ve read your story over a hundred times, but it is something that MUST be done.
4. REWRITING — This, to me, is the greatest peril of all. In my current manuscript….I see a gaping, HUGE, plot nasty that needs to be fixed and changed (for the better), but I’m scared to….I’m afraid I’ll mess up something that “wasn’t that bad in the first place”…etc. However, sometimes, rewriting MUST happen. In fact, rewrites usually happen. What can you do when you’re too afraid to change something? Open a new word document, copy and paste the section you want to change so that it is preserved when you’re rewriting that section. If what you rewrite is significantly worse than what you had, all you have to do is copy and re-paste your original text into your manuscript. Easy as that–no risk. You might surprise yourself, though, and find that your newly rewritten section is MUCH better than your previous writes.
5. EDITING — Some people hate editing, but I actually like hunting through a manuscript for unfinished sentences, redundant words, grammar, and punctuation issues, and just plain bad writing. Like rewriting, it is a chance to refine and polish what you’ve already got. If you’re an indie who can’t quite afford a professional editor yet, you’re going to get very intimate with editing. I ended up editing Night Bells about a gajillion times (okay, maybe not that many, but I edited until my eyes could no longer see mistakes, then I read the draft on my Kindle and found more!) Editing doesn’t have to be a horrible, loathsome task. If you’re a language nerd, it can even be fun! Seriously, though, if you don’t have a good handle on the English language (or whatever language you prefer to write in), start studying! You need to know the ins and outs of punctuation, syntax, parts of speech, etc. There are tons of great websites for brushing up on your language skills. Hop to it!
6. (Indies) FORMATTING — This is the one thing that terrified me when I was publishing my first book. After two or three days of it, though, I felt comfortable with it and I learned some really neat stuff about Microsoft Word. Like all the other parts of writing, if you’re an indie, you’re going to have to get comfortable with formatting your manuscript properly for print and eBook formats. You can, of course, hire people to do it, but honestly, it’s not that bad if you follow directions well. There are many websites out there that can help you with it, along with some great eBook guides. Go exploring!
7. PUBLISHING — If you’re a traditional author, there are of course additional steps between editing and publishing, but since I’m an independent author, I’m not hugely familiar with them, so I’ll stick to what I know. Regardless of the way in which you’re publishing, there will be a lot of work involved. After you have pressed the “magic button” or your publishing house has released your book, you are a proper author! Now comes the really hard part: marketing. See this post if you’re looking for more information about marketing.
There you have some of the “perils” of writing! If, like me, you are into adventure, these are exciting things! Still, we all have our days when we’d rather go to the dentist than write another scene. If you’re having a day like that, write something unrelated to your current manuscript! Write a poem or random scene! Practice with a writing prompt. Regardless of what you do when you’re burnt out or tired, keep writing. It will pay off in the end.
Have a terrific Monday!