It's been awhile since I blogged, but with good reason: I've been working hard. Seriously. It's like I have this crazy deadline fast approaching and I have to get as much work done as I can before it hits. (By the way, I'm having a boy!)
Not that things have been easy. I'm getting work done, but it's hard. SO HARD. But then, when is it not? (That's a rhetorical question. If you answer it with, "Meh, I don't think it's hard," I will punch you in the face and you won't be able to punch me back because I am pregnant therefore protected by the Pregnant Ladies Can Do What They Want clause.)
Um. Where was I? Right. The hard work. I've actually been working on two separate projects. I've been revising the wahzoo out of The Opposite of the Dead as well as slogging away on the first draft of The Children Most Foul. Basically, I've been alternating, so when I need a break from one, I just switch it up. It's possibly a strange system, but then, I'm a strange lady.
But it's the drafting of The Children Most Foul that I want to talk about today because I recently had an epiphany:
I hate writing first drafts.
Now before you roll your eyes and say, "Well, DUH, Jade," let me explain. See, for a long time I believed that I preferred writing a first draft to revising. There was a time in my life where I could breeze through a first draft in a month or two, barely breaking a sweat. I though getting the words down was the easy bit, the hard part was the editing.
But this was back when I didn't know what I was doing. When I was writing books that I didn't like or care about. This was back when I wrote a 175k word fantasy and a dystopian called The Freaks.*
Now that I have a tiny idea of what I'm doing, now that I care about the books I'm writing, that first draft is so bloody hard.
(To give you some idea, I started Children about this time last year, and I've had to put it away several times and then come back to it later. I'm still in the dreaded middle. *sobs*)
But I am determined to finish this book, even if Shiny New Idea is trying to seduce me. I made a commitment and I'll be damned if I'm going to let some little hussy lead me astray. So I went searching for some help, which I will now share with you guys because you are super pretty.
Many of you will know Laini Taylor as a mad talented YA author, but did you also know that she has a really cool blog called Not For Robots,** which is filled with helpful writing advice? I love it so much that a quote from one of her posts is stuck directly above my computer:
I happen to think that work is as important as talent. We need to work hard. We need to build our lives and our dreams like we're building houses or bridges or something, and not to expect it to be easy and idyllic.
Now I've been stuck at certain point in Children for MONTHS, and desperate to make progress, I scoured all my favourite writing sites for help. I ended up on this post on Laini's old blog, which I found so amazingly helpful.
One of her suggestions for getting unstuck, is to brainstorm a dozen possible scenes that could happen next. I did this, writing down all my ideas, even if they were crazy. A lot of them involved my MC burning things. Three scenes had her making out with three different people. Some of my ideas were ridiculous, but a couple of them were usuable. So I brainstormed a bit more and then BAM, I had written the next two chapters.
TWO CHAPTERS! (Did I mention I'd been stuck for months?)
Before I sign off (because, let's face it, this is a long, rambling post) I want to link to another of Laini's posts. This one, which deals with the suckage of first drafts. This is the other thing I've been struggling with--I can't shake the notion that this story sucks, that I suck, that my face sucks. It's so tempting to give up and start something new because new ideas NEVER SUCK, but this is a lie.
You must fight through the suck. You must find a way to unstick yourself. You have to keep pushing yourself until you reach the magical moment where you type THE END.
And everything is easy from that point on.***
Is anyone else stuck or full of the suck?
*Really. That's what it was called. Feel free to laugh.
**Seriously. It's not for robots.