Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Fired up? Enthused? Er.... no!

Remember yesterday I was all fired up about my crime novel again and made great progress?

Do I feel like that today? No!


I'm not sure. This is very typical of me. I'm not sure what to do about this or how to address the problem.

I have worked on the novel today. I've done a bit more research, which felt more like skiving off to read, to be honest.

I've been in a short story frame of mind and the novel feels cumbersome and unwieldy. I feel too bogged down in the detail and 'getting it right'. I rarely feel this way about short stories, because, well... they're too short for this to happen.

I have done some editing work on a story and if I get my skates on before the school run, then I can get it submitted today. That will feel like a job well done. Something complete.

And maybe this is where the problem lies with the novel. I'm being too much of a perfectionist. I can't stop fiddling with the structure. I felt supremely confident yesterday that I had the structure nailed. This is the answer, I thought. This will keep readers on the edge of their seats, burning the midnight oil, dying to know what happens next!

Then a new day dawns and I think, no. By adding those new scenes today, I've bored everyone again. That wasn't a very exciting section, was it? Yes, there was a fair amount of background detail in that section and that's necessary, right? Have I kept that particular section short enough, though? And there isn't really very much in way of vivid imagery or beautiful use of language, is there?

You see all these doubts creeping in? It's all very well people saying (including myself), 'Just get the bloody thing written, woman!', but there seem so many hurdles to jump over. And what do I do when the doubts creep in? Amend my Sainsbury's online order; write in my diary; make a cup of tea; load the dishwasher or washing machine; feed the guinea pigs; read; write this blog. Before I know it, it's three-twenty and it's time to collect my youngest from school.

Constructive advice, please!


Anonymous said...

All those things you do apart from the actual writing: the research, the structure adjustments, the details bogging down and such; why not do them later, once the basic novel has been drafted out? Don't get it right, get it written (then go back and get it right).

Any resemblance to the NaNoWriMo school of novel writing is entirely coincidental.

Jo said...

Problem is, CB, that I can't seem to move forward with the plot until I've ironed out these issues! That's why I've ground to a halt on the NaNo novel!

Penny said...

One unblocker I read about recently says to take your main characters and write fifty [phew] short separate sentences showing them *acting,* still in character, but in ways not at all connected with your plot. Far easier said than done I'm sure, but... worth a try?
As long as you don't get carried away and write a hundred action sentences :-) I suppose!
Good luck, and keep going. P.

Joanna said...

In the latest issue of Writers' Forum, Ian Rankin says he writes the whole novel first and then paints in the detail from a limited amount of research after that vital first draft is finished. He doesn't dwell on those details too much, as it is easy to become overwhelmed with the wealth of information available.

Be very, very pleased with the fact that you have constructed a novel and don't let it slip through your fingers now. Remember, you are bound to have doubts, because you care about it so much and have lived with it for so long. You will address those doubts, focusing on them one at a time, as the days go by.

Joanna said...

I have also just noticed that Writers' Forum have an article this month on how to break into crime fiction, which might have some helpful advice, Jo.

Jo said...

Excellent advice, as always, Jo! I subscribe to Writing Magazine, but not Writers' Forum, so will have to look for that one in the newsagents. Penny, that's an interesting way of moving forward! I might try that! A similar suggestion from Sarah Duncan on her blog is to set an egg-timer for 10 minutes and just write a description of your character. I guess you could do this for any aspect of your novel.

Getting it written is the biggest problem I have, particularly 'getting it finished'! I'm so close now!

Sally Zigmond said...

Jo. What you're describing happens, I believe, to all writers who are plodding their way through a novel. It's certainly all too familiar to me. On Monday I wrote up a storm and it was going well but today I can't raise any enthusiasm whatsoever. It seems stale and dull and not worth bothering with. The thing is to just get it done, dull or not and then go back and polish and re-polish. But even then, there'll be days when you want to throw the whole lot in the bin.

It's the novel writing life, I'm afraid. Like childbirth and dental appointments they have to be suffered before you can come out smiling.

Jo said...

Hi Sally! That's made me feel so much better, thank you! Yes, it does feel dry and dull some days, especially those scenes I've read over and over again. I struggle with the concept that I can't 'see' the whole thing. Feels weird! Scrivener is a godsend in that respect. Good luck with your novel, Sally. We need to exchange news again via email! Hope you're well! xx