Suffering from the mid-book block

I understand about the ‘shitty first draft’ that Stephen Kings speaks of, but prefer the definition from NaNoWriMo - ‘your first draft is a mining expedition to sift through for the diamonds’.

The problem I have is that I haven’t finished the digging yet.

Sixty thousand words in and I’ve hit a wall. Instead of ploughing on, getting through my story and developing my characters as they encounter their trials, I feel that I’m going backwards.  I’m tweaking, not even writing.  I change a word here, a sentence there. I get hung up on research, writing notes I probably won’t even use. And I’m tying myself in knots.

I’ve read endless blogs on how to fix this. I’ve washed dishes, taken hot showers, walked, looked through photo albums, listened to music, not listened to music, turned off the internet (God, that was hard!), exercised (that was hard too), played games. I’ve swapped rooms to write, tried to change the time I write, read other people’s books. 

It all seemed like procrastination.

I write for other people – I’m in internal communication. I write to deadlines for organisations without any problem at all, so I’m stumped as to why I can’t make my own deadlines for something which is important to me. 

One of the most prolific indie writers is Shannon Mayer, who said in one memorable podcast for The Bestseller Experiment that ‘your muse is your bitch. You have to get it to show up when you want to write, not the other way round.’

Well, my muse appears to have gone AWOL. I’ll let you know when it’s located again.

The sincerest form of flattery?

The sincerest form of flattery?

...the word 'admiration' means more than just passive contemplation, respect and warm approval.  It can also mean emulation.  And as Charles Caleb Colton, and English clergyman said, 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'. This certainly seems to be the case in publishing - anyone want a best seller? Put 'Girl' in the title. Even Amazon promotes books on the basis of 'If you liked that, you'll like THIS...'

Call me a dullard

Call me a dullard

I admit, I’m a plotter, rather than a pantser.  Starting to seriously write a book was scary enough, without not being sure where the story would end up.  Having said that, I do wonder sometimes whether having a tightly-plotted story becomes a little like ‘writing by numbers’. I was a bit distressed to read that Stephen King in On Writing calls plotting 'the good writer's last resort and the dullard's first choice'. Really?

Getting in on the sister act

Getting in on the sister act

I was inspired by Jess Ryder's recent post about sisters, to herald publication of her new book The Good Sister.

Her comments about sisters resonated with me. As far as I knew, I was an only child. That was until I visited my father after a gap of ten years to find I had two adopted brothers. I was 17 at the time of the visit.

Four years on, at college, Dad began a phone conversation with the unforgettable phrase "Are you sitting down?" and announced that after years of being unable to have children (hence the adoptions) - my stepmother was pregnant. My sister was duly born, and there are 21 years between us.

Reading for pleasure – no, really

Reading for pleasure – no, really

Almost everything I read about writing a book requires you to read in your genre.  Or just read, period.

So, wanting to be a writer, I set about it with a vengeance. But when I read, the result has been one of two things.  It can make me think – “Oh great, perhaps I could do this. Press on, get it finished!”

Or, it's making me think – “What’s the point? This is miles better than anything I could produce! I’ll never get it finished, I’ll never get published….” Etc., etc.

Clichés coming thick and fast – how I began to write

Clichés coming thick and fast – how I began to write

Like many people, I have wanted to write a book.  Like many people, I had a couple started and abandoned.  Also like many people, I decided I’d go to a course to learn how to do it.

The course – part funded by family and friends – was a romantic novel writing course.Taught by a star author of a well known and prolific publisher, it was set in Italy, North of Pisa, in a converted water mill. It was entirely attended by women, mostly of a certain age.