Writing their rough drafts exemplify love/hate relationships for authors. When the words come easily, and the scenes blossom full of life and color, it's exhilarating. It's a rush like no other. Other times though, each scene is hazy if you can see it at all, and the words dance just out of your memory's reach. That's when composing becomes difficult and procrastination in all its forms becomes tempting.
I've hit the point where Icarus becomes hazy. Oh, I have it fully outlined. I know what is supposed to happen, but it's all new territory. For most of what I've written in the rough so far, it existed in the old version The Writer's Hood printed back when it was still a thing, or at the very least, I'd worked through scenes in my head over the decade since the e-zine's closing. Having lived for more years and seen more of the world if only through documentaries and news broadcasts changed much of what I'd planned. The entire last half of the novel is brand new, which is just part of why I hemmed and hawed so much following reaching the halfway mark.
Fear can be a tricky foe for writers. Even if you think it isn't influencing you, it may be without your realizing. Dragging your feet writing unnecessary scenes, shifting to another project, finding reasons you just don't have time, padding the scenes you do need with thousands of extra words, and "losing track of time" are all ways fear can manifest itself. All are forms of procrastination in one way or another.
I realized this is what I'd been doing this past week. Even while I was writing a scene in Icarus, I kept wondering why I was writing it. Sure, it's something that happens, but is it needed for the book? Probably not. But it's safe. It's easy. I'm down to the last eleven chapters. They shouldn't be easy. The last build up and climax are almost never simple to write, especially if epic battle sequences and huge fiery explosions aren't an option for easy excitement and drama.
I know fear is what's driving me to procrastinate. I've admitted to being a perfectionist before. Yet even after working on not letting the need to "prove myself worthy of taking up space and oxygen by getting everything just right" keep me from trying in the first place, it's still causing problems. I'm almost certain it's even behind the growing urge I've had the past couple of weeks to forget finishing the rough and just start rewriting the whole thing from scratch.
This post is me more or less lecturing myself on points of advice I've given other new writers regarding this relatively common problem. When writing the first draft, just write. If it sucks, let it suck. Bad writing can be fixed in rewrites and edits. You can't fix what doesn't exist, so park it in your chair and write!
That being said, I decided setting daily word count goals were getting me nowhere. Those make it too easy to just pad chapters with needless scenes or thousands of words of empty prose. So I've started picking a particular scene and trying to reach that before I run out of time for the day. It seems to be helping.
I've only got around 10,000 words or so left before I hit the goal for the rough and maybe 13-14,000 before it reaches the same length as Right of Succession. It's not like that one's original rough was huge. It was maybe 35,000 words total if I'm being generous, written all the way back in 1999 when I was a high school senior with no real clue about life in the real world. Chances are good these last ten or eleven chapters will be a bit short and rushed. To finish the rough by the end of the month and get the next Yekara novel outlined, I'm attempting to write close to a chapter a day. I hit a wall after about 2400 words in a single day. I am a wife, homeschooling mom, and small business owner too after all. I can't devote more than three or four hours to writing tops on a good day.
Still, skimpy and really rough is better than nonexistent. Rough writing can be fixed, sometimes by cutting and others through adding new material. Even after going through roughly forty-five drafts by the time I started working on the final set of full rewrites in 2012, Right of Succession had huge chunks and whole chapters cut and still came out 21,000 words longer in the end due to the addition of two new subplots to fill in plot holes and fleshing out key scenes. Take the confrontation for instance. One chapter became five with several new twists, complications, and even a few new side characters.
So, the last few weeks have been frustrating. I've felt like I've been spinning my wheels for months now, always writing but not getting anywhere. Part of that was because I'd started a side project and let it get in the way of working on Icarus. Part of it was letting other projects distract me for far too long at a time, and part was just finding ways to write something and nothing for Icarus all at the same time. Well, no more. Enough slogging through every "connecter" moment. It's time to sprint for home.
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A. B. England is a novelist, all around geek, avid crafter, and the home-schooling mother of two.
She is an autistic creator with a love of mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
Yekara Series Book 2
The Icarus Project
Rough Draft Progress
77384 / 75000
Myth & Science Collection
Icarus Series Book 2
Sketched w/ Some Drafting
Yekara Series Book 3
Myth & Science Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Icarus Trilogy Book 3
Supers Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Yekara Series Book 4