Novel progress update

13 Jun

This is more of a post for my own motivation purposes.  I was aware when deciding to undertake the immense project of writing a novel that this would be by no means easy and even though I am still in the beginning half of the process (I am currently about 20,000 words into my novel), I can confirm I was right in my initial assertion.

On the 1st January, I was refreshed, excited and raring to undertake this mammoth of a project but this enthusiasm gradually fizzled out a few months into the year.  Perhaps it is something to do with the inevitable apathy that affects all of us after a period, or it could be to do with the fact that I became jaded by the whole idea, sometimes dismissing my dream to write and publish a novel as a faraway dream.  I allowed myself to become lazy, making excuses to justify my procrastination, to the point where I would rather lie on my bed and stare at my ceiling than lift pen to paper or fire up my laptop.  The longer I left this, the more difficult it became to get started again.

What I find hardest of all is battling the self-doubt that constantly arises, especially when reading back over work and cringing at its general awfulness.  I am constantly struggling to push the destructive thoughts that so violently and viciously disparage my writing abilities to one side and continue with the main task at hand: actually writing.  I have found that one recurring justification I make to myself to not sit down and actually write is because I need to  ‘research.’  What I am researching is not always clear.  Of course, research to a certain extent is necessary – more so for some genres than others – but I ended up labelling literally everything I did as ‘research’ or a way to suddenly get inspired.  So in my mind, watching ridiculously adorable pugs rolling about on YouTube videos was ‘research’ and browsing shopping websites for dresses was part of my necessary routine to suddenly feel inspired.  Before long, I realised I had written embarrassingly little when compared with the goals I had set myself at the beginning of the year.

I think things can easily become stale when you feel dispirited and you don’t see any palpable results.  What was really inspiring was going to the Grazia event on publishing your first novel as this gave me an insight into the business of writing and selling a book.  Sure, it is difficult but it is not impossible.  What I realised was that I needed to have a far more professional attitude towards writing and treat it in some ways as a job, disciplining myself to write everyday.  This not only helps you progress your novel but it also allows you to improve your writing skills.  Writing a novel does, however, require hard work and determination and that was where I was going wrong.  I had simply become impatient and expected things to move a lot quicker than they did.

I am now setting myself achievable objectives that will help me achieve my ultimate goal: to finish my novel and self-edit it within the year.  The only way I can possibly accomplish this is by remaining focused to prevent my perfectionist tendencies from hindering any progress at all.  One step at a time.

What is also useful is to address your own preferences, what you like and what suits your best to maximise your productivity when writing.  For example, for me:

– I need to write on a computer or laptop, rather than by pen.  This is because I can type far quicker than I can write so it is much more productive.

– I like to punctuate one and a half hour writing sessions with half an hour breaks.

– I like to write in the library.

– Sometimes I like to listen to music when I write; however, it has to be purely instrumental (I find I work best to minimalist piano music).

– If I am focused and determined, I can push out around 2000 words (quality writing) in a solid day’s writing.

– I like to print out the first draft of each chapter and make amendments on a hard copy.

– Attending literary events such as informative lectures or book clubs increases my motivation to plod on with my novel and makes me feel less isolated when writing.

– Eight hours of sleep a night is a necessary requirement if I am expected to produce anything of above average quality.

– As much as I try to convince myself that writing in bed with my dog is a good idea, it really isn’t.  I either end up falling asleep or playing with my dog, both of which result in very little writing actually getting done.

As a little aside, here is a picture of my dog.  His cuteness distracts me from my work!:

Image

So, no excuses – I will push ahead and stick to my goal.  It’s hard but you get an amazing sense of satisfaction when you hit your desired word count for the day as you can see yourself moving closer to the finishing line.

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