Finally starting that novel

preparing for the journey

This was the week that I finally got started.  No more excuses.  No more floating round the house finding fruit bowls to tidy and clothes to colour code.  This was the week that I finally sat down at my computer and put some darn words on this skeleton of an idea.

It was – how can I put it – NOT EASY.

In fact, writing that first paragraph felt like torture.  I was second guessing every word.  Every sentence felt rubbish.  Had I not been working on a computer, I would have done that thing where you write a few words then screw up the paper, throw it at the bin, miss it, rinse and repeat!!

So i took a moment.  I made a coffee, did some journaling, and realised that the problem was not the words, it was my attitude.

When you start your novel, release any ideas around perfection.  Release the urge to edit.  Set free the need to be impressive and literary.

Instead of trying to be clever, I set the intention to get out of my own way and allow the story to reveal itself to me.  I stopped thinking as a writer and started thinking as a storyteller.  If the perfect word eluded me, I just let it go, stuck in something ‘good enough’ and underlined it for later consideration.

Fact is that this first draft is supposed to be shabby.  It is supposed to be rough and ragged and sloppy round the edges.  Remind yourself that perfection is part of the editing stage.  At the start, you are just putting words on paper and letting the story tumble out.

Just reminding myself of this made the whole process so much easier.

There is a relief in letting go of perfection.

As soon as we are able to release ideas about how our story should be, we open ourself up to the truth of how our story wants to be told.  After all, your story found you.  It chose you to be the channel by which it comes into this world.  Your job is to just get yourself out of the way and allow the words to flow through you.

There are things we can do to aid this process.

First of all, have some kind of plan.  This will help when you feel a bit stuck and will also give you a bone to flesh out with words.

Secondly, remind yourself that you are doing this because you chose to do it.  But you are also doing this because you feel compelled to do it.  This is part of your journey, but not the only reason for living.  Honestly!

Thirdly, don’t do a single bit of editing.  In fact, turn off spell check and grammar tips on your computer.  Who cares if you have spelled it wrong?

Finally, be kind to yourself.  Breathe deeply.  Relax your shoulders.  Smile.

Embrace the idea of a sloppy first draft.  In fact, relish this idea.  It is supposed to be rubbish.  But it is a lot easier to make something good from a whole pile of words than it is from a whole head of perfect ideas.

This is about making your story manifest in its most raw of forms.  The cooking comes later.  Worry about it then.

For now, my writerly friend, get out of your own way, forget about perfection.

Words on pages, buddy, words on pages!

Are you starting out on your novel writing journey too?  What is your experience so far?  Leave a comment below – it would be fun to share the journey!

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Write every day but set yourself a limit

Love this interview.  It makes so much sense and I love how he uses the metaphor of the dog to explain how to train our subconscious to get used to daily practice of writing.

Moral of the interview is to write daily and set a realistic limit.

Great quote:

“Know yourself and say to yourself I am most energetic at this time and that is when I write.”

Enjoy x

when you fall off the wagon, get right back on again

flowers-widescreen-wallpaper-bicycle-fragrant-wallpapers-image-wallwuzz-hd-wallpaper-18885Image from:  http://cdn.wallwuzz.com/uploads/flowers-widescreen-wallpaper-bicycle-fragrant-wallpapers-image-wallwuzz-hd-wallpaper-18885.jpg

When you fall off the writing wagon, or blogging wagon for that matter, it seems that popular wisdom tells me to get right back in the saddle again.  I confess that, true to my plan, I have desperately fallen off the writing/blogging wagon over the last couple of months.

I make no apology because the fact of the matter is that life got in the way.  I had an overseas visitor and a serious soul-searching date to grapple with and something had to give.  Blogging was the thing I had to let go of.  So I did.  Just like that.  Gone!

A few times, I sat down at my computer and told myself to just write a blog, write a paragraph, just write.  But I couldn’t.  There was nothing there.  The well was dry.

So rather than moan about it, or stress about it, or see it as some sign from the universe that this was all going to custard.  I rested.  I played.  I took little steps like planning chapters, or doing research, or creating character profiles.

Rather than resisting the urge to stop, I decided to go with it and see where it would lead me.

When you feel the need for a rest, listen to it.

So instead of pushing myself and telling myself to be a disciplined person, I listened to my body and gave myself some time off.

I am so glad that I did.  Not only did I decide to tackle a completely different novel from the story that I had originally envisaged writing first, I also discovered the joy of movement.

Instead of sitting in front of my computer screen, I took myself for a swim.

Instead of lying around thinking, I went out walking.

And it felt good.

Because the fact of the matter is that I want writing my novel to feel good.  I want it to be fun.  I don’t want to imbue with the urgency of unrealistic time allocation and reaching targets.  I was able to trust that, in time, those things would put themselves in place naturally (More on this in the next blog post!).

So instead of feeling bad about falling off the wagon, I took the time to recharge and regroup.  I even took the opportunity to alter my course a little.

I am so glad I did.

Today then I invite you to consider how you can use your down-time to make you a happier writer.  That’s right – a HAPPIER WRITER.

Because writing should be fun.  It should feel like soul food.  It should feel satisfying.

How do you keep yourself happy as a writer?  Leave a comment.  Let’s talk!