Sunday 30th April 2017
Some days writing is a joy, sometimes it’s a slog and as we approach the end of this draft and I push to get it finished, today has been very firmly on the slog end of the scale.
It used to be that crappy chapter drafts bothered me. I felt that if I didn’t have a good draft then I hadn’t written the chapter. Going through the editorial process over the last two years has taught me otherwise.
I’ve learnt just how much can be done in editing, and just how much can be gained from a bad draft. As I near the end of this book, I’m acutely aware of this draft’s failings. A couple of years back this would have sent me into a spiral. I would have thought myself a terrible writer.
Now, I just know it’s the first draft. I know that some scenes aren’t anywhere as polished as I would like because I’m trying to get them done in a few days when I could possibly do with a week. I’m aware of the issues with the secondary characters and their arcs. I’m aware of the passive sections.
In many ways you could think of today as a massive writing failure. I’ve not liked what I’ve written and I know the end of this novel will need a lot of work. Yet, I also know that the problems stem from much earlier – not setting up motivations, not developing character arcs. And given the amount of work I’ve had to do on Black as Knight so far, I know I can do it.
I’m ahead of myself, remember. I have (or soon will have ) a draft of the sequel to a novel I’m still polishing ahead of submission. I suppose that’s why I’m also not too worried about the problems. As Black as Knight further develops, there will be changes that filter down into this novel.
So I think of this as very rough clay at the moment. I’m not too worried that several days of solid writing has made my prose a bit boring and functionary. This will all get fixed. I just need to get this draft done.
I had a target to reach for today. I started the day by going to sparring. Weirdly I feel more like I have a hangover than I did yesterday – I’ve felt sluggish, unfocused, and generally lethargic. It showed in my swordfighting.
No-one was doing pub today, which was good as I had food pre-prepared, so I came back and spent the entire day interspersing writing sessions with Youtube watching sessions. I find that the constant switch between actively doing something and then passively consuming content the best thing for productivity. But it’s taken all my effort to actually write. I was ready to go to bed by 8pm and I’ve been mainlining caffeine all day to the point that it’s impacted my stomach.
My general lethargy hasn’t been aided by the fact that my back has been hurting. I think I’m slouching over at my desk and so I’ve adjusted my chair and forced myself to sit upright. It still aches though which means I feel uncomfortable every time I sit down to write.
Something that did come out of today’s writing session though was a little subplot involving the antagonists for book 3. I still think the magic system for my world could be a little tighter, so perhaps once this draft is over I can think about it before diving into any further edits for Black as Knight.
So at this moment in time, I hate the novel. That’s OK… I don’t think you can write a novel without having those days. It’s a sign that you’re continuing to push yourself. Now that doesn’t mean its useless, most writers go through several stages where they hate what they are writing. My problems stem from the fact that the day job has elongated the time it’s taken to write this draft. Two years ago, I wrote about the same number of words in 6 weeks. I’ve been working on this novel since the beginning of January and I’m ready for it to end.
Of course, if I do finish tomorrow I will then have the problem of not knowing what to do with myself. Finishing a novel can leave you feeling a bit out of sorts after being so absorbed in the story for weeks at a time. My plan is to spend at least a week playing video games and watching movies. As writing has felt a slog today, I keep reminding myself that I will be able to go and see Guardians of the Galaxy tomorrow night.
But I still have the major action scene to finish, which feels anything but. This will need a complete rewrite come next draft. I then have to do a few short concluding chapters. Given that I have the whole day when I didn’t get round to starting until 3pm today, I’m anticipating that I will get it done tomorrow to coincide with The Climb 100.
Today has felt like a nothing day. Today has felt like all work and no play. Tomorrow I’ll look back and see the benefits of grinding out the works all day today.
But tonight… tonight, I want it over already! Writing! Who’d inflict that on themselves?
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