Writing Process: The Dream vs The Truth

First up the way I dream a novel is written:

  • I have a great idea and easily find the time to write 3-4 days/night per week getting between 1000-2000 words each time. When I run into a plot hole the solution magically comes to me while I am sleeping, eating lunch, or getting off the bus.
  • Need to do some research? The perfect book is in at my library, and I’m able to pick it up as soon as I need it.
  • I finish my first draft with a feeling of accomplishment. I am so pleased it takes effort to put it aside for a while before diving into edits.
  • My first reread of the book is wonderful. There are plenty of things to fix, but I can already see the novel coming together. It doesn’t take long to finish a first run at fixing up the big problems.
  • I hand the novel off to my beta’s. They make suggestions but overall they agree it is awesomesauce. I edit the novel based on their suggestions.
  • I have time for some line edits before next steps (competition submission, querying, whatever).
  • I’m done! Queue the balloons, confetti, and rainbow riding unicorns.

My experience writing a novel goes more like this:

  • Get part of a great idea. Either the character or the setting but probably not both.
  • Spend a LOT of time plotting in my head, on napkin scraps, and with bubbles and blobs all over my notebook. Eventually I either get something that looks like a decent outline/plot or I give up and pants the idea in a fit of anger over my inability to flesh out the idea. I debate not even starting this idea because maybe it is crap.
  • Life explodes around me and even my best laid plans make it hard to write more than a few k a week. I have to force myself to continue forward instead of rewriting what I already have endlessly. At some point in the writing process I get my next ‘great novel’ idea and it takes every ounce of my willpower to see this idea through instead of jumping to the next one. I ‘quit’ for at least five times before deciding the project is worth finishing.
  • Research leaves me with more questions than answers, and I have to settle for the books I can find instead of the book that would be the most useful.
  • My first reread leaves me with several large plot holes and a million little ones. At least one of the plot holes will take several attempts and a few writers friends to solve. At least three times during the reread I wonder what I was thinking when I decided to write a novel.
  • I hand the novel off to my beta’s. They give me honest, helpful, and sometimes hard to hear feedback. Overall they still agree the idea could be awesomesauce, but it needs some work.
  • I do another round of edits. I am still not happy with how the novel feels. The idea is starting to take shape, but it will need more edits and polish before it is ready for next steps. I debate quitting again, but eventually suck it up and get it done. If I am on a deadline I do what I can to get it ready and submit the best draft I have at the time.
  • So far no balloons, confetti, and rainbow riding unicorns have been achieved at the end of the process. Although only my YA Portal Fantasy has made it this far.

What is your favourite part of the writing process? Do you have at least one moment of ‘this sucks what was I thinking’ before you write The End?


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