Why I Blog About Noveling

My poor blog, oh how I have neglected you so. Some issues prevented me from posting the past couple of weeks. First, I had my busiest week at work this entire year (boring, but true). Second, I had serious difficulty mentally preparing myself for all the editing I have before me and wasn’t feeling inspired. Thankfully,  I was able to regroup and come up with a plan—or more accurately, tweak my original plan, which was to give myself until January 14, 2014 to finish this novel. Initially that’s when I wanted to complete my first draft and I guess after that I was going to edit as quickly as possible? I don’t know. The point is that now I have until that date to make this thing as good as I possibly can!

But anyway, that’s not what this post is about.

This post is to discuss my decision to share the noveling experience with the whole world. It’s been on my mind because The Write Practice competition (to become a regular contributor) has me thinking about this idea of a “platform” or an audience for your writing (check out my guest post here!!). I definitely appreciate the marketing/sales component of it all, but that was not my original motivation for starting this blog.

The 2011 Suntrust National Marathon made me do it.

Let me explain. My third year of law school I decided to train for a marathon. I told a few people so they understood when I said “I went for a two hour run this weekend” or when they saw me scarf down three times as much food as normal. In general, however, I kept quiet because I was scared that I would fail. I figured that if I didn’t post about my training on Facebook or remind my friends of the race date then when I didn’t show up on race day, it would be no big deal.

After FOUR MONTHS of training, it was a week before the race and I knew I would be able to finish. I sent an e-mail to friends and family inviting them to wake up at 7 a.m. and watch! Unfortunately, my Dad and my brother were traveling that weekend and most of my friends couldn’t motiviate the early rise–they had no idea the race was important to me. I had deliberately prevented them from being a part of the journey—both triumphs and struggles—that was culminating that week. Race day, I knew I was about to do this incredible thing I wanted to share with the world, but only two people were able to make it because I had been too scared to talk about it.

I don’t want that ish to happen again.

From day one, I have had a healthy fear that this would all lead to no where. Trust me, once again I was tempted to hide away and not tell anyone I was writing a novel. But the marathon experience stuck with me. If, after all this hard work, somehow this thing gets published, I KNOW I will want to share it with everyone I’ve ever met! And I want them to be excited!!

More importantly, I’ve discovered that informing people about a difficult thing you are trying to do actually makes it easier. Because everyone knows I’m trying to write a novel, I am able to receive encouraging words at unexpected times from unexpected people—making the process feel less solitary and pushing me to keep going. The marathon taught me that my fears are a reason to reach out to people, not to exclude them. What I’m saying is this: including you in my journey has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, so thanks for all the support so far!!

Why Editing May Be The Worst Part of the Noveling Process

A couple of weeks ago I finished my first draft.  When I started writing in January I imagined that at this point I would feel relieved, excited, a sense of accomplishment, etc.  I really don’t.  Instead, I feel more overwhelmed at this moment than I have during the entire process!  During the past few months friends often asked “how are you going to write this thing?” and I responded, “I just will!”  And then I happily typed away, making sure the stories of Francesca and John moved forward.  Something has changed.

I’m not completely sure why the idea of editing is stressing me out so much, but it is.  Historically, I have enjoyed editing even more than writing. The only time I hated it was during the final weeks of writing my senior thesis—after each of a million drafts my adviser always had the same amount of comments!! It was crazy! Maybe that experience has subconsciously created a negative association with editing large projects??  Or maybe I feel different now because the stakes are higher–at this point one of two things can happen: 1) my novel never gets published because I didn’t spend enough time editing or 2) my novel does get published and everyone hates it because I didn’t spend enough time editing.

Of course, I started browsing some writing blogs for comfort regarding the editing process.  Usually they have good advice and/or let you know the situation is not as bad as you think.  Let me tell you, reading those blogs and comments was an f-ing nightmare!  All of my worst fears were validated!!!  One author, who has published several books, detailed her process and it involved five “big edits”—that is, edit, have people read it, edit again, more people read it, edit again, people read it again—you get the point. Seeing that most readers probably need a month or two to get through an entire novel that is an incredibly long process.  Another writer said that she budgets 1 YEAR-15 MONTHS for editing!! Wtf!  That is a LOT of editing.  It’s possible I’m being naiive, but that sounds crazy—and I think this was all before she even looked for a publisher! My hope is that because I planned so much of the story on the front end with my trusty snowflake method, I will be in a better situation than some of those people, but we shall see.

Anyway, I have told many people in real life this, but for those who haven’t seen me recently (or ever) this is my plan going forward:

  • Edit the entire manuscript on my computer and address any comments/notes I made to myself
  • Print the manuscript, read it again, and then make any necessary edits
  • Share with friends (readers and writers)
  • Shift ego aside and edit again
  • Consider sending to professional editing services—they are expensive, but possibly worth it.  An alternative step would be to attend a writing conference to get feedback from agents and publishers on the spot (also costs money)
  • Edit again
  • Try to find an agent

On a happier note—I made it to the third round of The Write Practice blogging competition!  I’m not sure what that means yet, but thank you so much to everyone who responded to my prompt last time.  I will keep you posted on that!!

I Can Make Your Day Better

Things are happening!  This weekend, I finished my first draft!!  It’s a great feeling, but I still have a long way to go until I’m finished.

Also, I made it past the first round of a competition to become a regular blogger on The Write Practice, which reaches 35,000 readers a month!! (By contrast Illegal Writing gets about 700-800/month.) To convey the meaning of this let me explain: The Write Practice = Platform = Agent = Publisher = Novel on bookshelves!

In honor of the weekend’s news, I’m dedicating this post to The Write Practice, which is all about getting people to take action to improve their lives.  The end of each blog post includes a 15-minute writing prompt designed to get everyone’s creative juices flowing.  So today, I’m going to create my own prompt.  Many of you aren’t writers, so it’s just a little something to try make you happier.  If you do it, be sure to tell me how it goes!!

PROMPT TO MAKE YOUR DAY BETTER

Ok so to be a successful writer (I imagine), you have to keep your mood in check.  This is because people can feel your mood in your writing. If you’re excited, that energy is conveyed on the page. Likewise, if writing is a burden for you during a particular moment, readers can feel that too.  What do I do to make my mind right? I use music to get me to the place I want to be.  For example, for some reason Lucy Pearl’s “I Wanna Dance Tonight” puts me a GREAT mood. Toni Braxton is good for those depressing love scenes.  I’m not the only one!  “Fifty Shades of Grey” author EL James famously relied on the Black Eyed Peas’ “Sexy” while writing her novel.

Do you think this will work for you?  Let’s see!  Listen to a song that you think will change your mood. What did you choose? Did it work? Tell me!!