I sometimes wonder if the writer is truly in control of the story that she’s writing. A thought, that has often popped up during the writing process, again reared its head when I recently finished the manuscript of my third book — a quick woohoo here to celebrate the completion won’t be amiss! 😀
There are many authors out there who have written multiple books without missing a beat. I truly do admire their dedication and tenacity to stick to their goals, and overcome story hurdles without batting an eyelid. For me, though, writing is a learning process and I blunder my way through it, sometimes inching forward at snail’s pace and at others speeding down a fast lane.
So, here are my top 3 takeaways….
#1 Fear can be crippling but a great motivator too.
With Book 3 I wanted to explore a genre that I’m fascinated with — romantic thrillers. However, I was a tad nervous about whether or not I would be able to pull it off. Romance has its own pace and rhythm but a thriller is a different beast altogether. Short bursts of adrenaline pumping action, rising stakes and periods of calm have to be carefully interwoven into the narrative.
Mixing the beats of a romance (which is more about character development) with those of a thriller (which is plot-driven) was a challenge that had me break out in a sweat. Half way through the writing I nearly gave up. But I’m glad I didn’t… because after such an intense struggle with yourself and your writing, when the project gets done, it’s the best feeling ever!
There are times when you know the path you will tread. So too in writing. You have outlined your story, worked out the beats, you know the big moments. Yet, when the words are down in front of you, something seems to be off. It doesn’t quite work. You cannot put a finger on it but it bothers the heck out of you. Why don’t you get the same thrill that you did when you were thinking it through in your head? That worry is enough to halt you in your tracks, spoil the momentum, and make you go back and forth till you are ready to scream.
It made me wonder if I was at all in control of my story? Stressing wasn’t working, so I decided to pull back. Looking back at my previous two outings as an author, I realised each of them were a different journey — each had its own twists and turns. Book 1 had been thoroughly outlined but at the mid-point stage it had begun to scramble. Book 2 was a smoother ride but the last quarter gave me quite a few heartstopping moments. And Book 3 was bent on surprising me — in good and bad ways.
So if writing is a journey, and every book was going to be a different kind of adventure, why not see where the road would lead? Sure there would be some snags, a few hiccups, a couple of wrong turns. Why not give in to the adventure? Once I had prepared myself mentally, things flowed much better. Not everything in life can be planned to a T. The same principle works for writing, as well.
#3. Trust your gut.
To follow up on #2–it’s all about your instincts. Learn to trust it. Just like in life when you know something is just not right no matter what logic says, and you rely on your gut-feel or intuition to see you through, so too in storytelling, there are times when you need to do that. Go off the charts, forget the outline, take a creative leap. Best part is, if you don’t like the outcome you can always go back and Rewrite! Don’t you wish you could do that in life as well. But wait, perhaps some mistakes are meant to be.
What challenges did you overcome to meet your writing (or other goals)? Do share your thoughts…