Small human helping me plan for my deadlines.
I took a brief tour down memory/blog lane and huh – looks like just about this time last year, I was also struggling with the last 1/4 of my WIP and worried to death that I wouldn’t be able to make it work and my betas were going to hate it and everything was awful. Of course now, that WIP is The Perfect Assassin and I think much more fondly of it, but. Well.
There are certain elements of the writing/rewriting/revising process that you begin to anticipate after enough times around this delightfully slow and yet somehow also nauseatingly fast merry-go-round.
For instance, I know that at some point, I will love my story. The words will be easy. The scenes beautiful. I’ll itch to share it and every song I listen to will remind me of it and help create new scenes, fresh backstory, deeper emotions.
That point usually occurs about one week before I actually start writing the story. Sometimes it lasts a full two weeks into it.
Then the rollercoaster begins. The ecstatic, newly-in-love feeling fades. The writing is still fun, but it’s a Thing to be Done. It’s not a grind, not yet. There are still flashes of OMGWOW when bits and pieces of plot start to come together, when characters surprise you, when you briefly think you’re a secret genius.
And then, right about 3/4 or 5/6 of the way into your first (and second [and third]) draft, you realize you’re a fraud. There’s absolutely no way to save this mess of a story. Why even bother finishing it? You know it’s gone all wrong and you should probably just find a nice place in the woods to dig a hole real deep and drop it in. You know what, why not go ahead and drop your whole laptop in?
Then go home and take up beekeeping because wow, who decided to let you become a writer?
But as you try to remember if you even have a shovel – or maybe you should borrow your neighbor’s – I’ll tell you a secret:
You’re almost done. Keep going.
This is a part of the process. We all hit this bump. Fledgling writers often don’t complete a single story because they hit this murky awful point and don’t know that it just means they have to double down, that they’re almost through the worst of it. Heck, I wrote and rewrote (and rewrote [and rewrote]) the same fanfic for years and years and even now it stands uncompleted, only a chapter or two left to go. And it will never be completed.
But this story will be, and not just because I have a deadline. Actually, no: because of a deadline. I’ve been setting myself personal deadlines for years, well before I signed with an agent or snagged a publisher.
Keep going. Finish what you started, even if it means pulling teeth the entire way. Even if you just summarize what you think should happen. Even if you reach a point where you truly can’t go any further without reworking the whole plot and you type out “rocks fall, everyone dies.”
Because this, too, is a part of the process. And you have to get through it to have any chance of reaching the next part of the process.
Then when you’re here again, around mile 22 of 26, you’ll grimace but remember and know you’ve pushed through this before. And you will again.
Here’s current progress on Book Three, working title The Unconquered City, the story of an assassin turned monster hunter who’s really sick of people threatening her city. Now with more! conflagrations, omnipresent doom, and bittersweet homecomings.
Project: Book Three, Draft 0.5
Current word count: 60,025 / 80000 words. 75% of the way there
Days of spring: 0
Screams into the void: Yes