If I had to describe the biggest challenge I’m facing on the fiction writing front as of late, that is what it would be.
Complete and utter inertia.
Which is confusing, because last year I had so much momentum going during the first draft of my new novel that it practically wrote itself. I would spring out of bed at 5AM and write for a couple hours before work, then I’d race home at 5PM and do the same thing. When my manuscript was done, I revised it a little and sent it off to my editor secretly hoping that she would tell me it was brilliant and I’d be on the agent hunt in no time.
But instead, I got back pages upon pages of notes, which admittedly were filled with very valuable advice. Advice that meant I needed to rewrite most of my manuscript.
I’ve been facing this major revision for several months now, working on it here and there, but I can’t seem to find the momentum that carried me through the first draft. Five o’clock in the morning has never felt darker, colder or less conducive to creativity. And the same can be said for five o’clock at night.
What to do? Give up? Start a new project? Find a new dream? Change my name and go into hiding?
Disheartened, I turned to my husband for my advice. And in his infinite wisdom he reminded me that this is what “real” writers go through.
I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it’s a great point. It’s easy to look at all beautiful books displayed at Barnes & Noble and assume they were written effortlessly. But I know from many a published friend that this is far from true. In the literary world, no one is exempt from the rigors of revision. In fact, many successful writers credit this painful process with getting published in the first place. Dream chaser, Therese Walsh, went through 3 major revisions (and even changed genres!) during the writing of her successful debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy (Random House).
Even New York Times Bestsellers aren’t exempt. Dream chaser, Allison Winn Scotch, talks openly about the painful revision process she battled through while writing her third novel, The One That I Want (Crown).
I think I’ve been looking at the revision process all wrong. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and hopeless about the massive revision before me, I should take comfort in the fact that most writers go through the exact same thing.
And if I want to be a “real” writer one day, then I must get through it too.
Anyone else out there battling inertia? How are you getting through it?
I found your blog back in December after searching for “Quest Physics”. I had just seen “Eat, Pray, Love” and was fascinated by the term. I’d never read the book, and hadn’t heard anything about the movie, so I wasn’t expecting much. Boy, was I surprised. Not only did I discover that I apparently live in a cave, I came across your blog, read Paulo Cuelho and Og Mandino, and found inspiration in my life.
Everyone suffers from inertia, but I don’t think inertia ever wins. It’s just a road block. Find a way around it. If fear is causing the inertia, do what you can to overcome it. Break the project down into smaller more manageable pieces and set a goal. Fear is what causes my inertia. I think specifically it’s fear of failure. If I don’t try, I don’t fail, but I don’t accomplish anything either. Realizing this makes me wonder if we are shown everything we accomplish by the end of our lives, at the beginning, would we still accomplish as much?
I’m supposed to be doing something else right now. Instead, I’m hopefully making a new friend by commenting on your post, and offering you some encouraging words. I believe this is something that I need to do because I feel compelled to do it. If you don’t finish your revisions, I don’t get to read your book. If you finish your revisions, I can move further out of my “cave”, and read your book when it’s published. Just so you know, I plan on doing that because I really enjoy the way you write. It’s very reader friendly and interesting as well.
Now I can go back to working on my website since I’ve discovered that fear is what’s causing me not to work on it. Thank you for motivating me to overcome my own inertia. 🙂
I’m so glad your search brought you here and that you’re finding the motivation you were looking for! Thank you for your words of advice and encouragement, they’ve reached me at just the right time 🙂
Good luck with your website!
Thank you, I need to hear that. You did make a friend.
Thank you for the great post. I appreciate you targeting what “real writers” do. How they go through all the emotional baggage in their closets and attics to find the right words, turning them to sentences and paragraphs to make their manuscript as complete and as whole as possible, with all their blood, sweat and tears poured into the creative work that becomes art. I am learning that now as I have been working on my first draft for almost two years. And when I finish it, the revisions will come, as I have known they will all along. It is all part of the process that “real writers” go through. I have managed to learn that much to date. For me the revisions of the first draft are a good six months away. But I am so pleased I have read this post so when I get to that stage in the creative process, I will not look upon the revisions as a chore, a task or any kind of failure but rather the last steps in the final birthing of my first book – and while re-writing the first draft, I will know I am on the path of a “Real Writer.”