Burnout!

Image by Movida Grafica at Pixabay.

In life, we need a break, a holiday, and day on the sofa before we burnout. Why would writing be any different? 

I felt a burn out brewing last week, so I took a three days off writing. It might not sound like much since not everyone writes daily. I do. Between my novels, short stories and blogs, I write every day. 

I tend to balance my primary WIP with my other writing so as not to overload my brain with one project. I’ve been so immersed in mine that I forgot to come up for air. My creative brain was running on fumes while the rest of me was just about doing okay. 

I seemed to have been hit with a bunch of life stuff all at once again. I blame Covid since just about all of it stems back to the virus in some form or another. But I’ve ploughed through as best I can, and things are settling again. 

I took a long weekend to just relax without feeling like I’m missing out. I dabbled in blogging, I played a lot of music, which has taken a back seat to my writing, and I finally watched The Rise of Skywalker having missed it last Christmas because I was ill. Thank you, Disney +. 

Now I’m ready for another stint of edits and whatever life throws at me again. 

Here’s a fun Imagine Dragons track for you.

Don’t forget my Writing Ranting with Others Discord group. Message me SilverLinings#0367 for more information.

You’ve Completed Your First Draft, Now What?

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

No matter how many times I do it, completing that first draft brings a sense of euphoria I can’t quite describe. It’s like winning the first race on sports day. Sure you have more to go, but at the end of the day, you have that one winning medal. I’ve drafted my pentalogy, and book one has had a revision. The rest is messy, but at least the main story is there for me to see its evolution.

Now I have my first standalone novel drafted. And it’s in pretty good shape for a first draft. Right now, I’m letting the revision ideas float around, updating my latest outline with more detailed notes. The entire structure is there ready to smooth out and decorate into a beautiful work of art. It WILL be a work of art when I am done with this story.

Here are some things to think about after your first draft.

Make detailed notes.

Whether you’ve had feedback or not, it’s always a good idea to make notes and update your outline. Add your changes and additions and POV swaps if you have multiple POVS. If you don’t do outlines, it’s still a good idea to make a list and tick them off as you go through them. I use the corkboard mode in Scrivener with the “to do” label for each chapter and its new synopsis, then change it to “done”. It’s really handy. 

Foreshadowing

Now you know where your novel is going, you can drop little clues for the reader throughout the story so any surprises don’t come out of nowhere. Explaining or showing possibilities of the characters’ actions early on can really help with this. 

Setup 

This is connected to foreshadowing but goes beyond that. You need your readers to understand the aspects of your story for it to feel like a satisfying conclusion. If you leave things too vague, then when it all comes together, it won’t have the same impact. Set up the pieces in a way that the reader understands what each one does. Show it in actions, have characters say it in dialogue, or have the MC think it. Just don’t bore the readers with long narration telling them about it unless you have to. 

Deus ex machina

If you’ve set everything up and foreshadowed well, this won’t be an issue. You have to avoid that sense of perfectly timed divine intervention just when the MC needs it. Build up to it gradually, show a little before. Keep it in the reader’s mind with casual mentions in between the more active reminders.

Character development 

With any story, real or fictional, the whole idea is that the characters change somewhat throughout. It could be a minor change that leads to the characters being more open-minded to a big life change, or it could be that the book’s major change is the characters themselves. Either way, having seen where your character ends up, you can now go back and let the character change little by little. 

And now…

It’s been ten months since I started writing Out of Ashes. I won’t deny that the inspiration for the storyline came from a place of pain and vengeance. But what prompted me to write it was a dream of fire and rebirth. 

I don’t want to say more than that in case I spoil anything, but this story was incredibly personal to me, so to complete the draft with fantastic feedback was an amazing feeling. Now I can mould is, shape it an sculpt it into a work of art.

I’m open to self publishing, but I feel like I stand a good chance with traditional publishing based on the current market. I didn’t write my novel to fit the market or adhere to it, but circumstances in my story choice have coincided with what seems to be popular these days. How lucky is that? 

I have to revise it, send it for beta readers, revise it again, maybe even again, and then I can think about whether it’s ready for publishing. This is all going to happen in time, and I don’t plan to put a deadline on anything. You can’t rush creativity. Also, nothing bad will happen if I don’t get it published this year. So cheers to the completed draft and its possibilities. 

In life, we often wish we had the ability of hindsight. In writing, your first draft is your hindsight. Use it well, and rewrite that story to perfection.

More Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Things!

Steampunk, Time, Clock, Brass, Victorian, Dream Factory
Image by Greendragon-Gecko at Pixabay

Oh, if only I had a time machine so I could get everything right 1st time around. But I don’t. I have to change and adapt what I have to make it work. Also, time travel is a tricky thing. Even the smallest change can cause a ripple effect through everything you know and love. Just ask Doctor Who and Marty McFly. So when things aren’t working, we have to settle for starting over as best we can. 

Fun fact: I moved to Spain in 2009 with no real clue if I was going to have any more luck with building a life here. I even changed my career from tech support to English language teacher. 

It was terrifying at first, but part of me felt the change for the better, and I changed everything in my life—except my parents, who moved here to retire—in the hope that I could start again being a little older and hopefully a little wiser.

Writing is just as scary when we’re talking major changes, and still a little daunting when we cause ripples from smaller changes. Trust me. I’ve been there. I’m often there and so are many writers more skilled than me. It’s just part of the process.

Whether from our own ideas or prompted by feedback, it’s recognising the need for changes that makes us grow as writers. Rewrite a chapter. Swap scenes or POVs. Kill your darlings if you have to. They are all worthy sacrifices I’d you see a change for the better.

Don’t fear change. Embrace it.