Today I was in the middle of a week long ‘this is rubbish, why am I writing this’ but continuing to push myself on because I’d made the mistake of telling my significant other that I’m writing a novel. So now I actually have to produce a novel at the end of all this time locked up in a room. I think that the self doubt creeps in quite regularly, sometimes while writing the first draft, sometimes when revising and sometimes when just reading what I’ve previously written. The reasons are the usual, this doesn’t make sense, why have I got this scene at this point in the story? So plot holes you could say. Or simply, why is this character acting this way, this isn’t in their nature? Or, the dreaded, this is boring, why did even write this in the first place?
However, the small victories do come. Yesterday (while rewriting) I came across a scene, a little bland if I’m honest, and was able to transform it halfway through with just the simple addition of some dialogue. This addition was only available to me in retrospect. I could have thought of it while on the first draft but I’m just not that good. Only after I’d discovered where the story was headed was I able to go back and add this small piece of intrigue to the earlier scene.
I would say that this falls under the set-ups and pay-offs theory. And the simple fact is that it seems much more instinctual to write the pay-offs and then go back and look for places to insert set-ups. The clues, if you will. unfortunately, as we can’t be holding the entirety of our manuscript in our minds at once, the place to insert the set-up may appear illusive and will only become apparent upon a full read through.
But when you do stumble across it, and it fits, it blows away all of those evil cobwebs of doubt. You’ll find yourself revitalised, with renewed purpose and direction, an adrenalin shot where you’re unable to type quickly enough. And then undoubtedly you’ll have to hit ‘save’ and leave to go to work. But you might be able to daydream about your story at work and figure out some more revisions to hit the keyboard running when you get back!
In short, I’m going to try to remind myself that the little victories do come, when I’m bummed out that my latest work is lame, boring, broken or insincere, I’ll remind myself anything can be fixed. Whether that means deleting, rewriting or amending, there was a reason you sat down to write this in the first place and you wouldn’t have got through the first draft if it wasn’t worth something to you. And it’s worth finishing, so take heart. Take as many as you can get.