Brace yourselves for several paragraphs of disorganized but kind of organized thoughts.
In moments of clarity, I sometimes think that stress and deadlines go hand-in-hand, especially with my writing. In moments of clarity, I sometimes also think my stress is illogical, as was the case a couple of weeks ago. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m well into some heavy revisions for The Forger and more or less have a solid idea of what those revisions will look like upon completion. What I had not anticipated, though, was the three or four-day span of stress and irritability that would accompany these revisions.
Let me preface this next part by saying I love giving myself deadlines. They force me to write, even if what I’m writing is utter shit. If I tell myself I need to have a story or a revision done by a certain time, I make damn certain it’s complete.
Now, I’d given myself a window of two weeks to complete these revisions (which I’m well past at this point and quite) without really understanding how much more I was putting into the story. There are scenes and characters being cut, but there are also sections and characters being expanded. My big freak out was, verbatim: “Shit. I’m not even close to being done with these revisions. What if an agent requests a partial or a full? I can’t send this over! I’m so screwed, I have six queries sitting in the ether!”
*proceeds to scream internally*
Not one of my finest moments. I had been so into what I’d been writing that I don’t think I’d considered what would happen if I ran out of words to type, which is essentially what happened. At the time, my freak out felt natural, but in retrospect it absolutely made things worse. I was so consumed with the words that I was unable to write, that I didn’t write at all, which then made me wallow and brood even more.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s best to trust your instincts with your writing. One thing I’ve learned of myself is that free writing helps me achieve some sort of flow, even when I have no idea where I’m going (discovery writing!). This was the case in this instance. My biggest issue was figuring out how to start this new chapter; the angles I’d attempted didn’t fit, the narrative and dialog felt forced.
Then, somehow, it just kind of clicked. There was a character who I knew only by name at this point in the story; I had no idea what she was like as a person, so I used this chapter beginning to flesh her out a bit more and found she worked as a great complement to the main character POV that I was writing (I know, this sounds jumbled as all hell; stay with me).
As convoluted (and possibly insane) as this sounds, I think writers should allow themselves a moment of panic, but just a moment. Nothing more, though. Otherwise you end up like me, which is completely counterproductive.
I would love to know your thoughts and experiences. Please do leave a comment below and let the madness ensue!