Step 1: Get a new story idea that you’re totally stoked to write.
Step 2: Spend hours outlining and plotting that puppy.
Step 3: Start writing!
Step 4: Write about three chapters, then decide your B plot should be your A plot and your A plot should be put aside for the next book in the series.
Step 5: Throw everything out, including the outline and start pantsing it from the beginning.
Step 6: Just as momentum starts to build, have life become unusually hectic and force you to stop writing for about a month.
Step 7: Get back on that horse. Make progress. Sluggish progress, but still, progress.
Step 8: Get to what you think is the halfway point and celebrate!
Step 9: Get a little bit past the halfway point and realize you have no idea what needs to happen next. Spend days opening the file, staring at it while munching Cheetos, then closing it without writing anything.
Step 10: Feel like an utter failure, fraud and phony who will never finish another book again. Eat more Cheetos.
Step 11: Debate whether to throw it all out and start over, or keep going, knowing that probably at least 50% of it will have to be completely rewritten.
Step 12: Decide to keep going, because a finished broken draft is better than an unfinished draft and you’ll never finish if you keep going back to square one.
Step 13: Push yourself over that wall, bit by bit, one word at a time.
Step 14: Get sudden inspiration as to how everything comes together and get totally stoked.
Step 15: Write like the wind!
Step 16: Reach the end. Collapse. Have some celebratory Cheetos. Try not to think about all the rewriting ahead.
Currently, I’m at steps 9, 10 and 11 as regards Ghost of a Chance. I haven’t written on it all week, save for 334 words on Monday that I’m pretty sure are going to get deleted. I think the problem is that I’m at a point where what I feel is best for the main character and the story is conflicting with my own personal morals and values.
That might sound odd, but for a writer who happens to be a Christ follower but who doesn’t market herself as a “Christian Author,” this tends to be a thing that happens. My characters want to have sex! But they’re not married! And my mom might read this! And people from church! And what will God think? Will I be glorifying sin? Am I gonna get in trouble? Arrgh!
I always end up going with what’s best for the story and truest to the character. After all, not all my characters share my beliefs and values, so it would be weird for them to behave as though they did. Still, as a rule of thumb I try to write things I won’t be too embarrassed for my mom to read, and sometimes that rule gives me anxiety.
Sometimes that rule has to go out the window. This may be one of those times.
What about my end-of-week update on how I did on my goals for the week? Here it is: outside of getting caught up on my freelance editing queue, I got frick-all done besides. Between the weather and hormones, and all of the gluten- and cheese-filled comfort foods those two things compelled me to munch on all week, my focus and energy levels were shot. This means I’m going to have to spend tomorrow doing our taxes, but really, I’m just happy to be caught up on the client stuff, and I’m really, really glad it’s Friday.
How did your week go, dear reader? Better than mine, I hope. And for the writers in my audience, what kind of conflicts tend to derail your writing, at least temporarily? I want to hear all about it in the comments!