Why did I stop writing?
I made an extra effort to focus on my monthly column with MK Pulse (I’m no longer with them but I wrote for them for five or so years), and as my blogs continued to grow, I threw myself into my travel blog and this Miss Write website. My writing definitely took a new direction of platform and style away from the novel.
And then life got complicated – an engagement, a wedding abroad, a visa and legal arrangements for El Husbandio, bouncing back and forth between Costa Rica and the UK as a result, job changes (2), moving house (3), a house purchase on-going, all the stress that comes with such life events… and all while working hard in my day job and having a full social life. This all happened in the last 20 months alone. And that’s not counting 2013 – a mega year of travel for me as Costa Rican relations hotted up.
Still, that’s no excuse. I shouldn’t have stopped working on my novel. Just 15-20 mins a ay would have kept things ticking over. When I paused in writing, I had 85-90% of a great plot laid out in my head and I was still determined to make a full-length work out of it. I loved the storyline, and loved it even more for showing how my writing’s come along since ‘Girl Meets Boys’ (a novella, 2009, now out of print). I love the feeling of "I can write better than this, and I will write better than this!!!"
How am I going to restart the motors on my half-finished draft?
From memory, I currently have 30,000 words or so stored in chapters on my external hard drive. The thought of re-reading (cringing?) my way through the incomplete first draft attempt doesn’t appeal too much, but I need a refresher. I need to get to know my characters again, remember their stories, refocus on their journeys and the aim of the story. Part of writing ‘Scrabble Pieces’ requires me to forget what I know to write the story as well as possible, so I need to remind myself how to remember to forget. It works, honest! I need to remember the reader knows less than I do about how the book ends…
And I don’t fancy re-reading all this on-screen. I spend enough of my waking hours looking at a screen for my day job, so my eyes will welcome the rest and it’ll be a totally different writing method for me to try. I’ve never been much of a handwriter since I got my first laptop (12 years ago).
So what’s the plan?
I plan to rewrite via handwrite. I am going to scribe what I’ve produced so far in an A4 notepad from the computer screen. All 30,000 words of it – and beyond! My 2005 undergraduate self, struggling over a 5,000 word “dissertation” (I know, it was tiny as far as dissertations go!) would have a heart attack thinking of it, but why not? I have the time, I have the inclination, and I feel like I’ll really get to understand and remember the scenes, storyline, characters and their dilemmas, becoming that much closer to the essence of the writing. I hope to become re-absorbed into the story, like a reader would hopefully be, page-turning. I intend to use this resulting boost to finish the thing.
Another benefit I hope handwriting will bring is it’s easier to make notes as I go along. I can scribble all I like, insert extra pages and mess around easier than a tidy typed page. Yes, I could cut and paste my way through a novel creation on a laptop, but I feel like making notes is more organic, allowing the ideas to flow. Perhaps this is because it’s more natural to hand write than to type? You don’t see great works from centuries passed being typed, and look at their staying power.
It’s been good taking a break – you know I love my blogging – but it’s time to test myself again. Who knows, the break might give my book a new lease of life. I’ve developed my style, become more confident, and I’m ready for a new challenge. I don’t especially enjoy challenging myself in reading, but writing is a totally different story. Bring it on!
Whether this new tactic works or not, we shall have to see. If it does work, fantastic. I can’t wait to get onto the editing stage and have a shiny new book of mine in my hand. If it doesn’t work, I’ve tried something new, reminded myself of how great ‘Scrabble Pieces’ is and will be, and, what I’m most excited about, undoubtedly I’ll discovered more parts to the story my previous scribblings on the keyboard didn’t think of.
I think my hands will be aching in pen-holding shortly!
Wish me luck.
Check out Chuck Wendig's fab blog 25 Ways To Get Your Creative Groove Back As A Writer if you're planning to get back into writing too; it was a big help to me.
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Born to be a Tourist