We live in an age where information and friends are at our finger tips. Often times, it can be overwhelming as we all try to juggle our work, our social media life, and our offline lives. Sometimes the scale tips in favor of one group over another. Because of this fast paced world we live in, we expect things to be answered or delivered to us right now.
Unfortunately, that can’t be done all the time, especially with us artist folk. Artists have always been an odd collection of people ranging from the Luna Lovegoods to the Michaelangelos. We have a method. Our madness doesn’t always make itself known upon first glance and in fact it may not even appear at all, but we know what works for us.
I often read through or see that a fellow author has the capability of writing maybe two books at a time or they can get a book done in an astonishing four months of time. For me, I have to work on one project at a time. It’s agonizing when I get an idea for another project and I have to jot it down in a notebook and hope that I’ll get around to it one day. But it’s easy for me to get overwhelmed and crack under pressure and in order to keep my sanity (or what’s left of my sanity) in tact, one project at time is where I’ll stay.
Now, my first original novel, The Chosen, took me a whopping five years. I slaved over research. I poured over how-to-write books and I learned the ins and outs of the industry (for the most part). Everyone says that the key to success, especially for an indie author, is to have more than one book out there so that readers don’t forget your existence. With so many books out there for a reader to choose from, it’s easy to be forgotten in a couple weeks time, so naturally more books is a writer’s best weapon so that reader can grab another book you wrote and the cycle continues.
I panicked. What if writing my sequel, The Number, takes me five years too? People will have long forgotten me! But there were people that told me that I could write a book within a year’s time frame, which I think is roughly the average writer’s time frame. It kind of has to be if you want to stand a chance nowadays. So I wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more. It’s been a difficult discipline trying to balance my time between writing and marketing and having an actual life and I just may now be getting the swing of things. I thought, yeah, I can foresee me getting this done or 95% complete by November. And then, lo and behold while working on my second draft, I hit a major snag.
I was re-reading this pivotal scene I wrote and it was a jumbled mess. Everything was confusing, tenses were switching left and right, and then it all ends neatly. I had to sort through the madness and I was frantic to get it done in a hurry. Maybe it was a good thing I had to go to bed early to make a breakfast date with my grandparents and still make it on time to get to my morning appointment for the doctor (verdict: there’s a good chance I broke my ankle). It allowed me the time to slow down and take the time to think about what I wanted to accomplish in the scene. Where were all the characters? How did they get to point A to point B? I even took the time to handwrite the scene out, which was refreshing from typing.
So when you’re in a rut, just step away. It’s okay to take a day or a few hours or maybe even a week to get something right. As artists, we usually get our aha moments anyway when we take a step back and collaborate with another like-minded person. Isn’t that the best way to catch our mistakes in our manuscripts anyway? Isn’t that what critique partners are for?
Our work is like coffee: you just need to let it brew.