First off, before diving into writing proper, have YOU ever juggles said flaming watermelons?
Do you know someone who might have? Because I, for reasons mysteriously unknown, would really really like to see that.
Well, kind of.
But nevertheless, it remains a truth universally acknowledged that writing is HARD. And I, like many book bloggers, wish to publish one of my own novels one day. Which is quite a scary thought. I mean, I just started my own book this summer, and I’m currently up to 40K. YEAH. I’M A SLOW WRITER. It has to do with the fact that my project is quite complicated. And ambitious. So: ambitiously complicated.
I don’t want to talk tooo much about my tiny baby project now, at least until it grows a bit, but I’ll share a few things! *sweats nervously at the thought of finally talking about my own book* But here goes, guys.
- It’s high fantasy/horror-ish!
- And a retelling. Of a popular classic. That involves monsters and such. (No, I won’t tell y’all what the original novel is. Yet. MWHAHAHA)
- I have to juggle 3 point of views. THREE. Why am I doing this to myself?
- The hardest thing for me is pacing.
- And outlining
- And the whole thing, basically.
Now do you see where the inspiration came from for this post? I found writing to be hard, and instead of focusing on my manuscript, I decided to draft a blog post instead. I think I have my priorities straight, right? Ha. No. But I am a procrastination queen, that much we can all agree on.
So today I’ll be talking things that make writing hard. In list form. Because that’s how we roll ’round here.
The hellish thing that is OUTLINING
Alright, let’s be honest. There is nothing more difficult than transferring something floating around in your head to paper. It’s hard, and messy, and challenging. The worst part is, neither you nor anyone around can actually help you with this step because, well, YOU ARE THE ONE THAT MADE THIS UP.
Outlining itself is tricky because you’re laying the foundation of your novel. Yes, you can make mistakes here, but not major ones. And if you have a rickety foundation, well, nothing can then stand. So: minor pressure. #UnderstatementofTheYear
Mess up outlining, and this happens.
And that ain’t pretty at all.
Character Profiles, and other catastrophes
Alright, I’ll admit, this isn’t as bad as outlining. Character profiles are actually fun to do. I personally structure my characters in a table, with name, age, physical description, personality description, role to other characters, and role to overall plot. And while this may not look fun, it actually, weirdly, is. Don’t ask me why, but I love thinking up my characters.
It’s their RATIO that kill me every. single. time.
Too often, I have to add characters, take out characters, or change their relationships; ie, when I realize A doesn’t really need a sibling, or B is better off being downgraded to a minor character than a major one because there is no way I’ll add them to the main cast, or there’s just no need for all this clutter. These kind of problems.
Of course, I usually don’t know all this adjustment is necessary until I actually start typing the story out, so helloooo to scenes being torn down and rebuilt.
*brief screaming at laptop
even though my poor HP didn’t do anything to deserve this*
Writer Moodiness, the ultimate distractor
I don’t know if I’m the only one with this problem, but I find myself very much a mood writer. Sometimes I get the burning urge to hash out an entire scene and its next one and its next, without ever pause for breath. And other times I pull up my manuscript with the intent to finish at east 3 chapters, but I do nothing more than end up getting distracted by something as stupid as my cursor blinking.
WHY IS THE CURSOR BLINKING. WHY CAN’T IT JUST STAND STILL. WHY AM I FEELING THREATENED BY MY BLANK PAGE. (Yes, I am completely normal. I swear.)
It is after these episodes that I simply close out of the manuscript, walk out of the room, brew the blackest coffee I can, and curl into a ball.
I believe this is a perfect example of the terrifying phenomenon that is writer moodiness, and the only thing that I allow myself to do when this happens is to leave it. I won’t write my best work when I’m feeling overwhelmed, so I let myself be. Besides, it’s not like I can outrun my to-do list. I’ll come back, eventually. And I know this. So does my laptop.
*squints at last couple of sentences*
Did that sound creepy? It wasn’t supposed to. My apologies.
Plot bunnies. Plot bunnies everywhere.
When a project takes up a whole lot of time, you undoubtedly start to get sick of it. At least, I do. And then. most unhelpfully, my brain decides to attempt to give me some “advice”. It usually goes something like this:
Me: I want this project to be over. It’s taking me forever.
Brain: I know.
Me: It’s boring me.
Brain: Well, how about you add something dramatic, like an unexpected phonecall?
Me: Um, this is a high fantasy??
Me: They have no phones.
Brain: That’s because the setting is wrong. And the genre. And the characters? Totally wrong.
Me: They are?
Brain: Oh yeah.
Me: Now you tell me?
Brain: It’s a simple fix.
Me: So, should I just tweak this scene a bit?
Brain: Oh honey, no. [leans over and whispers] Just start a whole other story.
It’s at this point that I get angry at my easily-distracted brain, and it gets mad at me, and thus we end up at #3: Writer Moodiness. where my brain punishes me for hurting its feelings by shutting down my creative output.
It’s a vicious cycle, I tell you.
When I get wild ideas for any other stories but the one I’m working on, I find it helps to shut my brain up by scribbling down bullet points for plot outline and character outline, BUT NO MORE THAN THAT. That’s how I check my wild thoughts: I give myself limits. Absolutely no starting on two projects at once unless I finish the first. Otherwise, I’ll end up with many half-finished lumps of writing where nothing is quite polished, much less completed. And no one wants to read that, I remind myself.
Limit yourself, and focus. Shut your untamed thoughts up. Yank on their leash. It helps a lot, I promise.
The mysterious instinct that urges you to reread every second paragraph you write.
This is THE number one reason why I’m such a slow writer: I keep rereading what I previously wrote, and editing that instead of, you know, being a productive human being and actually finishing my story. And this sucks. Majorly, majorly sucks. Because then I look at my previous work, get worried the remaining portion wouldn’t be as good, and freeze up. On the positive side, I guess editing would later be easier because I already reread some portions? But this is one of those things I hate the most about me and my writing process.
I guess this comes from the fact that I am a wild perfectionist? I am, and I hate that. It’s annoying and counterproductive.
If this is similar to you, I’d suggest, for the both of us, to limit ourselves, much like the solution for #4. Make rereading off-limits until at least a certain number of words are typed up, and make revising a sort of reward. I try this, and it does get a whole lot easier to achieve a mini goal you set yourself.
When you forget what words even are
This? This is bound to happen. You’d be writing for a good period of time, words flowing naturally, when suddenly everything slams to a halt.
That. That’s the feeling exactly.
And then there’s the moment when words stop looking like actual grammatically-correct things, and you start questioning whether they’re truly words at all.
Some confusing words that don’t even look like words (and are majorly rude distractions???) include:
. Because what even is that.
. Or, as I like to spell it, necccesssssarrry. Bless the thing that is spell check.
IF I FIND THIS WORD IN A BOOK I AUTOMATICALLY RATE 1 STAR BECAUSE NO.This word is absolutely terrible and I hate it. Some hate the word moist, I hate the word chortled. I also despise it’s lesser known cousin, chuckled. This word gives me the impression that there was spit flying while laughing, and just .. no. Not a pretty mental picture there.
Repetitions and the horrible, terrible scarcity of synonyms.
This is a problem while editing. Look, we’re bound to have some sort of phrase that is just so appealing or flows nicely off the tongue (off the keyboard?). And without meaning to, we’ll end up typing it aboit 675498 times per chapter. Because reasons.
I didn’t realize I had one! Then, while editing a few scenes, I found it. My fatal flaw. My weakness. My addicting phrase that I type like my life depends on it. I wrote it (no kidding) over three times per chapter. It is:
A smile tugged at the corner of [insert character here]’s mouth.
I don’t know why this sentence is so appealing to me. WHY. It’s not even that great a descriptor, honestly. HELP ME.
And I thought that letting out a breath you didn’t know you were holding was terrible. Apparently, so are smiles tugging at the corners of your mouth. Or maybe that’s just me.
So: synonyms. I need them like air. Without different words, my unpolished stories sound something like:
So: add to my list! What are some
of the hardest parts about w
riting? Do any of these apply to you,
too? (PLEASE TELL ME
I’M NOT ALONE OMG). And lastly:
how are your writing