Happy Fourth of July! If you’re writing “Summer’s Ultimate Novel,” remember to take a celebratory break. Not all day … just part of the day. *cracks whip*
SUN participants—I’d love to hear about your first days of novel-writing! So far I’ve received updates from Vicki and Savannah, but I’m curious to know more.
Possible Problems (and Solutions) in Week 1 of SUN:
1. Still staring at a blank page or computer screen (randomly move your fingers. You’ll soon tire of gibberish, thus creating real words out of boredom).
2. Worried that you didn’t finish your character charts or outline (at this point, it no longer matters—as long as you’re making progress on your first draft. If you hit a snag later on, try returning to the charts/outline).
3. Freaking out because your story does not follow your outline (this is normal. Your actual story is probably better than the outline. Ride the new wave!).
4. Struggling to find the right voice or tense (this can be fixed in the second draft … but if it’s really bothering you, try getting feedback from someone you trust).
5. Not meeting your word count goals (evaluate yourself and your schedule. Can you prioritize to get more writing time? Are you spending too much time on the little details—grammar, mechanics, word choice?).
All common problems, so don’t feel bad if you’re struggling. The important thing is to not give up. It doesn’t matter if you’re behind on words; you’ll gain momentum as you roll further down the hill.
Maybe you have none of these problems. Maybe you’re easily surpassing your word count goals. Maybe that explosion of story ideas in your head could be mistaken for fireworks. If so, congrats! Kudos! Woot! Yay! *happy dance*
The last thing I want to do is burst your bubble … but I do need to give one warning.
Sometimes, when life is good and writing feels like the most natural thing in the world, we get “Ooh, Shiny!” Syndrome. We might be so thrilled with the story, so excited about the words pouring out, that we want to share our shiny novel with the world. Okay, maybe not the world—but at least our family and friends. After all, they’ve supported us, encouraged us, and put up with our crazy-writer mood swings. Now we’re finally seeing results from all the hard work, and we want to celebrate with the people who mean the most to us!
I love sharing stories with people … but I’ve learned (the hard way) not to share the story too soon. It’s so tempting to let all my family and friends read it now. But remember—you only get one first impression per person. If you share your first draft now, your reader will thereafter know your characters and plot. Even if you rewrite and revise and give that reader a polished version later on … it’s too late for a first impression. The reader will still enjoy the story, but he or she is biased after that first reading.
If you can’t resist sharing, pick one person only. That way you’ll still have plenty of unbiased readers to use for your later drafts. And tell that one person to only offer positive feedback … until the first draft is done. First drafts are not about receiving criticism and going back to fix things. First drafts are about moving forward. It’s great having a cheerleader who pushes you to keep writing until the first draft is finished. Not so great to second-guess yourself and feel doubtful about your previous chapters.
In summary: 1) Write 2) Keep writing 3) Enlist one cheerleader, if necessary, and 4) Guard your secret treasure. One day your book (and all its drafts) will be finished, and then you can share it with the world.
Remember, if you signed up for the SUN contest, I need a comment about your current word count every Saturday! No, this is not a competition, and no, I’m not trying to embarrass you. But if that type of thing motivates you … then hey, whatever works! Good luck with Week 2!!
P.S. If you’re looking for previous SUN posts, click on the “SUN” link in the Tag list.