Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Writng a novel - Behind the scenes

Many people have a stereotypical picture of an author in mind: busily typing away, surrounded by mess, hair dishevelled, forgetting the time - until they're finished with their manuscript.
In some cases, this might actually be the case, but in many cases - at least in my case - it looks more like this: an author staring at a blank page, looking around, thinking, a painful expression on the face, fingers hovering over the keyboard, wondering why the heck the letters won't spill onto the Word document. I will type one or two sentences, but delete them immediately when I'm not happy. I know many set themselves the tasks to write 1000 words a day. I can't do that. There are days when my characters won't let me into their heads and if I wrote on those days, I'd write utter rubbish, only to have to delete it later, which I hate. Oh I can't tell you how much I hate deleting things. Luckily it rarely happens anymore; it might need editing, but never deleting.
I wonder how others do it, writing one novel after another. I've managed to complete three books since April 2009 and am almost done with the fourth, that's not a massive amount of books, is it? I've started about seven more, but they don't count.
Currently, I'm trying to finish the sequel to No Wings Attached often fighting with myself. Should I push it for another half an hour and see what my mind comes up with? Or should I give up for today? I know it's not writer's block, it's simply my perfectionism standing in the way. Sometimes, I'll try to come up with something and one sentence leads to another, and I'll end up getting into the flow, accumulating words fast, that's the state when writing takes you to another level, when you really forget everything around you. Sadly it doesn't happen often.
To me, creating a novel is hard work. Not that I don't appreciate it - quite the contrary, but it can be the toughest job on earth if you get stuck, especially, when you, like me, plot as you go along. I wish I could be the type of person who does a detailed outline in advance, that would help a lot, but, unfortunately, I'm not. It takes me at least six months or more to finish a first draft, many think it's a piece of cake to write a compelling novel, but it's not, certainly not for me. But I'll get there in the end, so I tell myself, trying to spur me on. I know I couldn't live without writing, it's what keeps me sane, it's my outlet, my challenge. That's probably why I can put up with the pain of staring at a blank page an hour many a day, in hope that, eventually, I'll be able to ride on a wave of words again.

This is for all of you who struggle once in a while.

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