Thursday, September 27, 2007

Overwhelmed by all this writing

Since the last time I met with my critique partners, I've added six more chapters to my early chapter book. Means that I have a total of 10 (first draft) chapters! Each chapter is about 500 to 900 words. I should be happy. I should be celebrating. But instead I'm all stressed out about it.

This is the most writing I've ever done on one project. Most of my writings have been picture books, essays or blogs — no more than three to four pages. Tonight, I printed my manuscript out; it's more than 40 double-spaced pages! And I'm only about a quarter way finished (I know this probably sounds like too large an early chapter book, but I plan to cut way back).

Reworking a chapter book is going to be a much bigger bear than reworking a 1000-word essay, picture book, blog or cartoon. So the deeper I get into this first draft, the bigger a problem I feel like I'm creating for myself later on down the line, when it comes time to rewrite and revise — nevermind all my grammar issues and creative punctuation.

My writer friends would probably advise me to keep plugging away, to continue writing that first draft without looking back. But I can't. I feel like I need to fix a few things. I mean, my MC's younger brother is a baby in chapter one, a toddler in chapter three, and 7-years old in a later chapter. I can't make up my mind on how old he should be. Shouldn't I at least determine this kid's age before I move on?

4 comments:

Thomas Kingsley Troupe said...

Don, this is one of your writer friends talking...

Don't do it! Keep plugging away. All the details (and yes, even the age) will present itself in rewrites. Don't fall into the trap of fixing stuff as you go. Trust me, man. Just get to the finish line first. You'll thank me someday.

rindawriter said...

I agree except I think your brain IS saying "I need a rest a bit, I need a rest a bit! Let me muddle, let me muddle!"

What I would do, as I too, think getting to the end of the draft is important?

1. Decide first on how long a break you will take and set a definitie time when you will go back to the manuscript.
2. Make a file called JUNK BOX.
3. Try again to write some more in a very relaxed don't worry mood, BUT start this way!! Do a rapid read-through with colored pens and markers. Just circle every area of question or concern, in differnt random colors.
4. As you read, also write quickly down and DUMP into the Junk Box (and it can be just that a Junk Box with scraps of paper) any ideas, any questions, any concerns and literally DUMP them in the Junk Box. AND in your mind DUMP all your worries and concerns about the manuscript. Indeed just write down your worries and concerns about it as you did in the blog AND DUMP it. Get rid of the worry this way, psychologically speaking.

You see, EVERYTHING you are worried about and concerned about is going to be safely right there in hard copy circled on the paper or in the Junk Box, and you can relax, it'll all be there and easily fixable later.

5. Also, as you come to the end of the read-through, see if you don't feel more relaxed and eager and able to go on writing more. Try anyway, even a few sentences. DON'T worry about the mess, the sloppiness, the logical inconsistencies. Push through that sloppy first draft and get out as much as you can. Don't stop.

If you can't get a beginning, put a big circle in the manuscript for the beginning and push on. If you have no middle or gaps in the middle, again big blank circle, push on. Same for ending. No ending yet? Big circle. Try also slowly writing a few words in your less dominant hand as a loosen-up exercise.

AND LOCK THE CRITICS OUT! They do not belong in your first draft room.

6. Done with the pushthrough. Let the manuscript rest again. Muddle. Walk, draw, goof off, sleep, shop, whatever.

7. Then Go back again, quickly look the manuscript over. Any ideas for the big blank circles in the manuscript? Jot them down. Anything more for the Junk Box to dump? Dump it.

8. You're ready for Stage 4. e-mail me and I will send you a diagram fill-in thingie that you can use totally by yourself to help you work through the some of the questions and problems you mentioned in your blog. I cannot BELIEVE how much it helped me to do this. I had a first rough draft that was so totally shapeless, hardly any beginning and NO END!!! Wah! I was really stuck. For far too long, alas.

Also I'll send some helps about how to work through your Junk Box stuff. It took me a lot longer to do this than it will you because I had to invent the diagram thingie, but I now have a fantastic beginning and a real ending and know exactly what I need to do about my lumpy middle, and I am so excited again about the writing of the manuscript, I mean I know wehre to go with it, what to do with it.

DON'T mess with or worry about ANY of the punctuation/grammar stuff yet. Trust what Thomas said. It IS EASY to fix later on. Very. Your critique group can fix that stuff for you, it's that easy. They cannot get YOU on the page! Only you can do that.

Hey!!! I have to go write on my own stuff now....

rindawriter said...

I agree except I think your brain IS saying "I need a rest a bit, I need a rest a bit! Let me muddle, let me muddle!"

What I would do, as I too, think getting to the end of the draft is important?

1. Decide first on how long a break you will take and set a definitie time when you will go back to the manuscript.
2. Make a file called JUNK BOX.
3. Try again to write some more in a very relaxed don't worry mood, BUT start this way!! Do a rapid read-through with colored pens and markers. Just circle every area of question or concern, in differnt random colors.
4. As you read, also write quickly down and DUMP into the Junk Box (and it can be just that a Junk Box with scraps of paper) any ideas, any questions, any concerns and literally DUMP them in the Junk Box. AND in your mind DUMP all your worries and concerns about the manuscript. Indeed just write down your worries and concerns about it as you did in the blog AND DUMP it. Get rid of the worry this way, psychologically speaking.

You see, EVERYTHING you are worried about and concerned about is going to be safely right there in hard copy circled on the paper or in the Junk Box, and you can relax, it'll all be there and easily fixable later.

5. Also, as you come to the end of the read-through, see if you don't feel more relaxed and eager and able to go on writing more. Try anyway, even a few sentences. DON'T worry about the mess, the sloppiness, the logical inconsistencies. Push through that sloppy first draft and get out as much as you can. Don't stop.

If you can't get a beginning, put a big circle in the manuscript for the beginning and push on. If you have no middle or gaps in the middle, again big blank circle, push on. Same for ending. No ending yet? Big circle. Try also slowly writing a few words in your less dominant hand as a loosen-up exercise.

AND LOCK THE CRITICS OUT! They do not belong in your first draft room.

6. Done with the pushthrough. Let the manuscript rest again. Muddle. Walk, draw, goof off, sleep, shop, whatever.

7. Then Go back again, quickly look the manuscript over. Any ideas for the big blank circles in the manuscript? Jot them down. Anything more for the Junk Box to dump? Dump it.

8. You're ready for Stage 4. e-mail me and I will send you a diagram fill-in thingie that you can use totally by yourself to help you work through the some of the questions and problems you mentioned in your blog. I cannot BELIEVE how much it helped me to do this. I had a first rough draft that was so totally shapeless, hardly any beginning and NO END!!! Wah! I was really stuck. For far too long, alas.

Also I'll send some helps about how to work through your Junk Box stuff. It took me a lot longer to do this than it will you because I had to invent the diagram thingie, but I now have a fantastic beginning and a real ending and know exactly what I need to do about my lumpy middle, and I am so excited again about the writing of the manuscript, I mean I know wehre to go with it, what to do with it.

DON'T mess with or worry about ANY of the punctuation/grammar stuff yet. Trust what Thomas said. It IS EASY to fix later on. Very. Your critique group can fix that stuff for you, it's that easy. They cannot get YOU on the page! Only you can do that.

Hey!!! I have to go write on my own stuff now....

Anonymous said...

OOPS! Sorry for buttons fumble! I am in real rightbrain mode tonight.....