I finally finished the first draft to my historical mystery novel, The Reluctant Retiree. There is always this point, somewhere in the middle of a story, when the urge to push it aside and start something new is nearly overwhelming. Fresh ideas begin to surface and they seem so exciting and appealing and easy. For any writers out there: never give into the urge to start something new.
Finish what you start (even if it’s a terrible story).
Writing is a lot of work. It takes focus, persistence, and just plain pig-headedness. Sometimes you just have to put your head down and bully your way through a plot.
I’ve been working on this current project for four months (it seems so much longer). And now that I’ve finished the first draft, I really want to send it to my editor Merrily, because I have no idea if it will pass muster. Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to do that, it’s not how my writing process works. Some writers do well by bouncing ideas off an editor while writing the first draft, sending unpolished chapters, and segments.
I’m not one of those writers.
I try not to even talk about the story while I’m writing it. If I talk about a manuscript, all the creative magic bleeds out of the story, and I lose interest. So I just write in solitude and a fair amount of silence. Before I can work up the nerve to let anyone else read a story, I have to have a fairly polished final draft. Different methods of writing, which all end up at the same goal.
So now, instead of pressing SEND, I will go back, refine, reread, then read it backwards (sentence by sentence), and finally read it out loud, looking for inconsistencies and grammar errors. Finally, after all that, I’ll have the confidence to press SEND, and then hold my breath, wondering if its any good.