From Finishing to Fumbling

Almost 30,000 words later, I think I’m finally back in rough draft mode.

I started writing the conclusion to the Marian Trilogy a couple months before I released The Hunted, but it was slow going. At the time, I chalked it up to my attention being split: I was drafting one book while polishing and promoting another. It was going to be hard to get much of anything written as long as I had another project so close to publication.

But then I published The Hunted, and even after the post-release buzz faded, I was still having trouble getting more than a few hundred words written every day. The good news was I already had another excuse handy: I was about to lose my job. By that time, we had a rough timeline for how much longer we had left at Power FM, and that was weighing on me pretty heavily.

But now here I am, one week after my last day on air, completely out of excuses. There’s no new book to distract me, no tough work situation to stress me out. It’s just been me and Scrivener. By the end of the week, I did get to a writing pace I was happy with, but it took me a while. Finally, realized my problem wasn’t divided attention or work stress.

It was my mindset.

I’d just gotten done putting the finishing touches on a book I’d been working on for over a year. The book was polished, with themes I was happy with and a flow I was excited about. And this rough draft…well, it’s rough.

The transition from finishing one book to starting another has always been a little jarring for me. When you’re editing and polishing a project, you need to be brutal. Cut relentlessly, be suspicious of every word choice, and do everything you can to get your project as close to perfection as possible. Drafting is a totally different story. It’s all about turning off your filters and just writing, because hey, you’ve got a really brutal editor coming behind you to fix all your mistakes.

And yeah, there are going to be mistakes. Lots of them.

I think that’s what was tripping me up. I’d keep stopping to ask myself if maybe this scene was running a little long, or if there was too much dialog here, or if I needed to skip that sequence altogether, or…or…or…

What I needed to do was write.

I was having lunch with some of the guys I play in a worship band with the other day, and we were talking about how the key to a lot of the arts is a willingness to be awful. Not that you settle for doing bad work, but that you don’t let the possibility of failure paralyze you.

Because of course you’re going to fail. Nobody bats a thousand.

You don’t get better at anything by sitting around and waiting until you know you’ll do it flawlessly. You improve by doing it, which means you’re occasionally going to fall flat on your face and have something to learn from. Whether it’s writing a scene and realizing characters keep on disappearing and reappearing with no rhyme or reason, or opening a song with the capo on the wrong fret, you’re going to make mistakes, and if you’re a good artist, you’re going to learn from them.

So I’ve gone from finishing one book to fumbling through another. My filters have been more or less removed, and I’m charging ahead to the end of the Marian Trilogy.

Where do you need to start fumbling?

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3 thoughts on “From Finishing to Fumbling

  1. hey big bro this Corey Waldrum an powerfm supporter and long time listener. i am also writing an book and i got to say it hard but we need to keep on writing 🙂 – right now i am trying to find way to get my music that i listen to while i am writing, i am still going to be listening to powerfm but right now wayfm is seriously messing with the stream… it not funny. everyone on the facebook page want you back and kindel!

  2. Thanks for the reminder to Keep pressing on (Relient K playing in the background). I know I get into doing tons of research for some of my writing – so much that I’ve got tons of research, but little actual writing accomplished.

    • Yeah man – research is a double-edged sword. You definitely need it for certain genres, but it’s so easy to use it for procrastination. I know a lot of writers who will just write in something like “research what would make sense here” and then just keep going with their draft for the sake of getting it done. Then they can come back later and fill in the holes.

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