Writing Your Book, Step Two: The Process

By Caleb On Thu Nov 28, 2013, 12:22 am Comments0

So you've got your idea, you've actually written a few thousand words and you're thinking everything is going to roll like Madmartigan down a hill covered with virgin snow.

Then you experience the dreaded 'writer's block.' You go through each stage of denial - with particular emphasis on denial and anger - before you're struck with the urge to throw your hands in the air and walk away.

'Maybe it's just not that great of an idea,' you might say to yourself. And maybe you're right.

'Maybe I should have stuck with the pig-in-parliament concept,' you hear yourself grumble. And it's quite possibly correct, as far as that goes.

But here's the thing: there's always a reason to dog your own work! This is textbook perfectionism at play, and if you didn't think of yourself as a perfectionist before, it's probably because you're a perfectionist ;)

Here's an exercise: take a look at your body in the mirror. It's relevant, really. Go ahead; I'll wait...........finished? Good. Now do a Google image search for: 'perfect body pic' and take a look at the results. Seriously, this is instructive; take all the time you need.


Back? Ok, now open a notepad and write down the five biggest physical advantages the man or woman in the best picture you has over you, purely in terms of physical attractiveness. Be brutally honest. Yes, I'll hold while you do so - but only if you turn off that terrible elevator music.........

Done? Good. Now give that list a long, hard look. As you do so, understand that you are observing precisely the same phenomenon that will threaten to stop you from writing when you start being critical of your work. It's not hard to find examples of people or products who have qualities that are superior to what you possess, or are categorically more desirable - at least to YOUR eye. And since you know yourself (and your work) better than anyone else, it's not hard to point out your own worst flaws and weaknesses.

However, it IS hard to put yourself and your product out there for the world to see and judge, and this is the single biggest hurdle that people I know encounter when writing their first work. (I suspect this is also why so many aspiring authors have a dozen half-finished manuscripts collecting dust in their basements, by the way)

To further illustrate the point: remember how I said that my brother was once asked if English was his second language in a completely honest, un-snarky, pseudo-helpful fashion? Well, that one post on a website's forum shut down his pursuit of telling stories for YEARS. I'm not kidding; it was literally YEARS (closer to ten than two) before he even wrote another single, solitary word.

Discouragement is a very real thing, and it can come from all sorts of places - some of which you would never expect. There's a Zig Ziglar quote that directly applies to keeping your feelings protected from ridicule or insult, but I can't remember it. Suffice it to say that I firmly believe in protecting yourself from outside criticism during the creative process. I, myself, have been absolutely and irrevocably derailed by little more than proffered indifference when discussing a plot element or story thread which I thought was gangbusters.

Anyway, back to the story: being a stubborn guy, my brother took the criticism on the chin, redoubled his efforts after the wound stopped stinging, and is now a successful, working, indie author. There are many, many, MANY similar example I've encountered just in my own limited interaction with the indie writing community. When he's producing quality product in his popular series, he's a top 100 author on Amazon for his genre. Not bad for a guy who would never be confused with an English professor, eh?

The truth is that many people are capable of producing a rough manuscript which can go on to have similar success to what my brother experienced. The first trick is to keep focused, undeterred, and to have faith in yourself along the way. Nobody who has succeeded in writing their own novel would suggest that doing so would be easy, or that simply believing you should do a thing will make it any less painful, but the reward for pushing through all the resistance and all of the obstacles is something remarkable.

Once you've finished your rough draft, it's time to move on to Step Three: The Handoff
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