There’s something so enticing about a fresh start, isn’t there?
When it comes to writing, I love getting started on a new project. An idea will capture my imagination and I’ll race to my computer and open up a new project in Scrivener and I’ll let the momentum from the novelty of the “new” carry me as far as it can. But eventually, the wind will go out of the sails a bit. The “new” can’t stay new forever. I get mired in the middle and often, I don’t reach the end.
There is nothing I want more than to traditionally publish a novel. And then many, many more after that. But to even consider publishing a novel, I’m probably going to have to finish the first draft. Seems logical, but I know I’m not the only writer who suffers from this problem.
Specifically, I have an issue with editing the hell out the first part of any work in progress (WIP). November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for those of you in the know, or not). In a nutshell, NaNo throws down the challenge to write 50,000 words in a month. I won NaNo once, in 2011, and putting it bluntly, that work was total garbage. It might be why I’ve been NaNo averse for so many years since.
I wasn’t going to do NaNo this year. I have a paranormal romance WIP (basically it’s just set in the future — no sparkly vampires here) that I’ve been working on since the middle of the summer. I’ve basically been pantsing the entire thing — writing myself into dead ends, deciding I wanted to write romance and trying to shoehorn the original idea into a romance structure, and rewriting the beginning over and over and over again. I’m pretty sure my Thursday Roundtable folks at Red Oak Writing have heard several scenes multiple times with different revisions. In short, it’s a bit of a mess. And don’t even ask me to explain it. I can’t without difficulty.
An so, the allure of a new idea took me. “I should write contemporary romance,” I said to myself. Thanks to my full-time gig working at a media company, I starting thinking about how I could brand myself and about how my idea to write “No Coast Romance” would lend itself well to blog and social posts and multiple ongoing romance series. By “No Coast”, I mean stories based in the midwest, because unlike the east and west coasts, we don’t have a coast. Get it? Please say you get it. Anyway …. Long story short, I’m starting new … again. It’s November, after all, a time for aspiring authors to start fresh, like dieters on New Year’s Day.
After my writing roundtable on November 15, I went home, outlined a new story, drew up character sketches, and opened the new project in Scrivener. This one actually has a title — In Tandem — that I think I’m going to stick with. So unheard of — for me, at least. Almost as unheard of as me doing any outlining before diving in. The fact that I even took these very important steps this time around shows some evolution in my writing process.
The next day, I got my project into NaNo with a whole, legitimate blurb and everything! If anyone is doing NaNo and wants to be my buddy, my username is Laura Patrice, because even back in 2011 I had the foresight to start writing and banding myself under my first and middle names. As of 11:59 p.m. on November 21, I’m at 15,082 words. Not too shabby for officially starting to write on November 16.
The odds aren’t in my favor to finish all 50,000 words by the end of November. And for what I’m writing, a full story will fall somewhere between the 60,000 and 85,000 mark. I’m going to try my damndest, however, to win NaNo, because I’m bad with numbers and I love pinning hope on unrealistic odds. But in all seriousness, what I’m choosing to take from NaNo this time around is that pressure to keep moving forward, to get that word count, to write that full story. Will I go back and polish things up as I push forward? You betcha! But I’m holding off on the more serious edits and restructuring until I go in for the real, legitimate revision of the real, legitimate manuscript.
I’ve been taking some concrete steps to make the dream of publishing a real, achievable goal. Approaching this new WIP with the same urgency I feel when I’m actually participating in NaNoWriMo is just one of those steps. I’ll be chronicling the others in future posts, because in addition to writing novels, authors — and aspiring authors like me — have to keep up a website. Good thing I work in digital media. +1
So, world, I’m starting fresh. Hear me roar and etc. Writing career, here I come!
Here’s to new starts that actually lead to endings.