Rekindling the passion with old writing projects June 27, 2011Posted by pacejmiller in Misc, Novel, On Writing, Study.
Tags: determination, old projects, passion, procrastination, rewriting, stephen king, Writers Resources, Writing
Have you ever started writing, got halfway through, or almost finished a piece of writing, but for whatever reason never saw it through to the end? Have you then, days, weeks, months, or even years later, tried to pick it back up again to see if you can finish it off?
That’s what I’ve been trying to do the last few days. I have no less than three ‘old’ projects that I’m trying to get back on track, with the time off being from a couple of weeks to almost a couple of years. And you know what? It’s really really hard. Ridiculously hard.
What I’ve been trying to do is rekindle the passion I once had with these projects, to recapture the flame inside me that made me want to write all day, work on it all night, think about it as I’m drifting off to sleep and getting right back into it the moment I wake up. I’ve had those moments with all three projects, but whenever I stop (due to a plethora of reasons, including laziness, procrastination, holidays, other work and unforeseen circumstances outside of my control) I find it difficult to regather that momentum again.
I ask myself why that is the case. Do I still want to finish them off? Of course, more than ever — in fact, now is the best time because I actually have the time to work on them. Do I still think they are good ideas? Yes. Perhaps not as brilliant as I originally envisioned, but good enough. So why, dammit? Why?
I guess part of it might be because I fear that I’ll pick up the old project, have a look at it, and be stunned into depression over how crap it is and how much work I’ll need to do just to fix it up. That almost always happens when I look back at my old work. But surely I’m not alone in that, and others have gone on to put in whatever work was necessary to finish it off.
Having a zillion distractions around you certainly doesn’t help. That’s why I am so enamoured of full-time writers who work from home, people who can just sit down at the table X number of hours a day and work on their shit rain, hail or shine and no matter how much they don’t want to do it — like a real job. I remember Stephen King said something like that in On Writing, that you have to take your writing seriously or else no one will.
That’s it. I’m going to give it a try and see what happens. Work on my shit like a 9-5 job on the days where I can. I’ll report back with the results in a couple of weeks.
Is there such a thing as over-editing? June 9, 2011Posted by pacejmiller in Novel, On Writing, Study.
Tags: copyediting, edit, editing, editor, manuscript, over editing, publish, self-edit, structural edit, writer, Writers Resources, Writing
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The last week or so I had been desperately trying to get my manuscript into shape (or at least the part of it that I had to prepare for submission).
I had already touched on how difficult it is to edit your own work in a previous post, but what I have realised lately is that there comes a time when you just don’t know whether further editing is beneficial or detrimental to your work anymore!
Of course, I’m not talking about copyediting — what I am referring to is more substantial edits and rewrites.
My supervisor had given me a number of high level suggestions to improve my work, which required a lot of thought, a bit of deletion and more addition. So I went ahead and tried to implement the suggestions while also attempting to fix the narrative on a sentence by sentence level. Of course, I was reading everything out (a huge help), though it did give me a sore throat by the end of the day.
Anyway, it got to a point where I had done perhaps 5, 8 or even 10 drafts of individual chapters, and to be honest I couldn’t tell if the newer versions were any better than the older ones. I was afraid I had deleted quality stuff and added stuff that didn’t improve the story. Just how do you know, when everything starts to look the same and all versions start blurring into one?
It was something I discussed in class the other day, and as it turned out, fear of over-editing was a common occurrence, even for experienced writers. The recommendation was to put the work aside to sit for a while, go do something else, take your mind off it, and when you’re ready, come back to it and read it again with fresher eyes. And if you are game, showing the different versions to friends for comment would also be very helpful.
The most important thing to remember, of course, is to keep track of all your different versions and don’t save or write over them so if an older version is indeed better or there are deletions you want to reinsert you’ll have access to them.
Becoming a ruthless killer…of words May 31, 2011Posted by pacejmiller in Misc, Novel, On Writing, Study.
Tags: black comedy, Book Writing, comedic writing, comedy, editing, editor, kill your darlings, manuscript, publishing, word count, word limit, Writers Resources
It’s getting down to the business end of things. The due date for my novel project is just around the corner and I have buckled down for the home stretch!
The novel itself will not be complete (the project only requires a certain number of words) but what I submit will have to be high quality, polished stuff. And so I have essentially stopped drafting new chapters and am solely focused on reshaping and reworking the existing ones.
On top of that, I have to start trimming the words down to a manageable size. I’m about 10,000 words over what I should have, and it’s going to be brutal.
Yesterday I commenced what I thought was a murderous rampage through my draft manuscript. I deleted whole chunks, moved others, rephrased and slashed words and sentences here and there. I thought I was on a roll. But when I checked the word count at the end of the day, I had only cut a few hundred words! It may have had something to do with me adding a little too much new material.
The good news is that I can simply cut entire chapters for the submission. Find the ones that aren’t working yet and just take them right out. Get back to them later.
The best advice I received from all the workshopping I’ve done recently is that for comedic writing (which is what I am striving for here), the best way to go about it is to gather a whole bunch of stuff, find out what works and what doesn’t, and just keep the best bits.
For some reason I was under the assumption that brilliant comedic writers struck gold every time — and some of them probably do — but there’s bound to be certain passages that don’t work and some that work better than others. The key is finding out which ones. I find reading the writing out loud really helps — in identifying the strengths and weaknesses, separating the interesting from the boring, and assisting with the rhythm and comedic timing of the jokes and punchlines.
Oh well, better get back to it. Time is running out.