Finding Your Rhythm
It’s the start of a new month (minus a few days) and I’m glad to have left November behind me. I hope all those who participated in Nanowrimo did well. Even if you didn’t win, you should consider every word written down as a victory. I didn’t participate in Nano this year, but I did work on my writing and man... November was a rough writing month, a roller-coaster ride for the most part. I found a Critique Partner to critique my novel, as I shared a few posts back and it took my writing for a loop, quite literally. I got a little lost in the noise of feedback and lost the music of my own writing for a bit. We all go through these rough patches and I want to admit on here that yes, it’s hard, but it’s also normal. I want you to know that you’ll find your way back too. Storms don’t last forever and it’s about learning to dance in the rain anyway.
So long story short, I found my rhythm again. It wasn’t easy, but it was rewarding. I’ve made some significant changes to my book and I’ve fallen in love with it again. I just had to reaffirm my vision for it. I had to stick to my guns about some changes my CP wanted to see and I needed to open my eyes to possibilities that have made my story so much better. There are still a few things I need to address. One more major rewrite, adding one more new scene, and a few more tweaks and changes to top it off. I am very proud of the changes I have made to my writing and the changes I have made in mindset as a writer.
I have a few tips that might help you guys if you find yourself in a similar situation: feeling overwhelmed with the changes you have to make, and starting to hate writing and your story.
1. Remember that you’re not alone.
2. Remember that you don’t have to change anything. This is something my CP had to remind me several times. Her opinion was just her opinion. It didn’t mean I had to agree with it. I had no obligation to change the things she pointed out, and neither do you. However, it is important to keep an open mind. Don’t be afraid to explore things, to see the potential.
3. Take a break. Read things that inspire you, go out with friends, take a hike. Do something unrelated to writing, but something that makes you feel alive and you will be reminded of the magic of being a creative.
4. Re-do your outline. This helped me so much. Your original outline probably doesn’t match your story now, so go back through your novel and write down the scenes as they now stand. I organized mine into a spreadsheet and divided them into chapter sections so I could have a better visual of what was going on. You could use cue-cards and a bulletin board too.
5. Make a list of the changes you need to make/the suggestions your CP or someone else has given you. My CP made comments on my google doc and as I read through them all, I jotted down the page number and a short note about what the issue was: realism, subplot rework, more imagery, more details, more explanation, sentence structure. Then I numbered these 1-5, with 1 being a more urgent issue and 5 being something I could address later. I then put this information into another spreadsheet (I have a new love for spreadsheets) and I added a checkbox column so I could mark off the things I dealt with. I started with the number 1s and made my way through everything one step at a time. It felt great to check things off.
6. Communicate. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on someone’s opinion. Work through problems together. Brainstorm with each other. Have them voice their opinion and if you don’t quite agree, talk about it. See what you are willing to do differently and if they think that makes it better while not exactly being what they originally wanted. It is great to bounce ideas off of each other and come up with a solution together. Two heads are better than one.
7. When all else fails, remember why you started. Go back to what sparked it all and let it reignite your fire.
That’s all I’ve got for you for now. These are just some of the things I employed that got me out of my slump and gave me a better perspective moving forward. I hope to finish my fourth draft this month and I wouldn’t have been able to get this far alone. It’s important to share your work and it’s important to not let feedback destroy you. Find the magic again. Find your rhythm.
If you guys have any questions, drop a comment below and as always, keep writing.