A Public Flogging

Sometimes in life, you need to give yourself a kick up the backside. Search long enough on my blog and you’ll find quite a few of these types of posts where I adopt a “Woe is me” pose and wax lyrical about how I’m failing.

Why? Well it’s because I set myself feasible goals, then surround myself with obstacles that prevent me from achieving them. I choose to cross a river, find myself a boat and then proceed to beat holes into it before I set off. I’m also pessimistic by nature; if I’d gotten halfway across the river when the boat began to sink, I’d turn around and head back!

I give these obstacles fancy names as to distance myself from them; writer’s block, procrastination, blank-page syndrome etc. I constantly read “write, write, write..” yet I’m often reading it not doing it.

Take the title of this blog, amuteforamuse. I set it up as a driver to get the first draft of my novel doing it – back in 2013. The title came to me when I convinced myself that my muse just didn’t speak to me at all. The gargoyle from the image on the right-hand side of my blog actually sits on my desk and bears much of the brunt when I’m struggling to write – true to form, he has never spoken a single word.

It’s now 2015 and I’m still working on that first draft. But I’m not just working on that; a website, a world-building project, a sci-fi and fantasy reading list, a writing and publishing reading list are all vying for my attention. This year I’ve even started buying and selling sci-fi and fantasy books on Ebay to supplement my upcoming University fees. Due to this, I often find myself working on the one task that feels least like work, which means A Treasure Found, is getting lost amidst the crowd.

One of the main reasons is that I’ve become afraid of my own story. I can portray the plot, the world, the characters so much better in my head than I can in my writing at the moment. I envisage whole scenes in my dreams and yet they fall apart on the page. Like a child, I tell myself that if I can’t see it, then it can’t hurt me.

My writing will flow, and it will stall; I’m only human. But I need to make a change, I need to patch up that boat and get it back in the water. I don’t want sympathy; this post is called “A Public Flogging” not “Group Hug”. I know everyone has problems in life and they certainly don’t need mine.

I’m going to finish this post with a writing tip from an author who seems to have battled his inner-demons and is willing to tell others how to do it, Chuck Wendig. If you’ve also found yourself looking into that raging river aboard a sinking ship then I whole-heartedly suggest you visit his site. It isn’t for the light-hearted and his words care little for bruised feelings but often the truth is like that.

I AM THE COMMANDER OF THESE WORDS
I AM THE KING OF THIS STORY
I AM THE GOD OF THIS PLACE
I AM A WRITER, AND I WILL FINISH THE SHIT THAT I STARTED
AMEN.

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Returning to your book…

I returned to my book today, it was exactly where I left it. More importantly, it was exactly how I left it; unfinished chapters, annotated sections, broken timelines. I’ve neglected it to the point that it doesn’t need ‘more’ work, just work.

Remember the saying “Can’t see the wood for the trees?” It means you spend too much time focusing on individual parts that you begin to lose view on the one big thing you were trying to accomplish.

This is where I am, and am sure others are, at the moment….

The reason for this blog was to keep me driven in my goal to finish the draft within a year. That was in 2013, and it didn’t happen. I’ve done similar for 2014, yet already I have made a start, and completed, a few short stories, gotten involved in world-building for my novel, and am looking to get a website up and running. Furthermore, I’ve continued with my Fantasy/Sci-fi book lists, as well as my non-fiction writing book list.

You may have something different, but they are all trees; the wood that is your novel is fading away amidst the flurry of you doing other things.

We don’t want that to happen. We can’t allow that to happen. We have to put in the effort.

The first draft of my novel is currently around 83000 words and I’ve estimated that it is around 45% complete. I have a baseline plan for around 300 words a day and an average of 2000 words a week. At that rate, I will complete my first draft this year at the latest.

I don’t know how far along your novel is, nor what plan you need to get it back on-track, but you should do it now. Step back from some of those trees and, hopefully, this time next year I won’t be writing a similar post.

My updates will be tracked on this page.