January 6, 2011

Finding The Groove

So, y'all know I intend to write a novel this year.

What you may not know is that I have tried before.

Here's how it went:

Novel #1(from about 1999): my agent liked it but said it needed more - a strong subplot.  12 years later, I'm still trying to figure out how to add a sub-plot.

Novel #2: written for a course at the Institute of Children's Literature, I thought I was doing better with this one but, being a self-doubter by nature, I kept feeling that my instructor was being too kind, so I gave the novel to a an acquaintance and fellow writer to read.  Her comments were so brutal that I haven't had the courage to take that one back out of the sock drawer.

Novel #3: has about 30 pages written with two alternate beginnings and I'm considering a third.

Novel #4: has about 30 pages written with three alternate beginnings.

Novel #5: An adventure story with elements of magic.  I wrote a chapter a day for 42 days for my kids.  They loved it.  Really.  And a couple other people who read it loved it as well.  My agent never got past page 90.  It's currently being inflicted on my writing group.

Novel #6: has about 30 pages written with two alternate beginnings neither of which I like yet.

Novel #7: has about 30 pages written with three alternate beginnings.

Novel #8: has about 30 pages written.

Are you sensing a theme here?  Now you know why I have my work cut out for me!!!

So anyway, I read this interview with G. Neri on Cynsations blog yesterday.  It included some writing tips, and one of them really struck home with me.  It said:

"1.  Give yourself permission to write badly.  That's right.  Even the greatest writers I know admit their first drafts suck.  So forget even trying.  The first draft is all about getting it out of your head and onto the paper (or disk).  It's the number one obstacle that keeps would-be writers from ever finishing a novel.  They get stuck trying to make every page, every sentence, every word perfect just right.  Forget it.  Just find a word, throw together a sentence that communicates the basic idea, and move on.  Know that it will suck.  Embrace its suckage... move forward until you reach the end, then go back and fix.  Otherwise, you'll never get done."

This is good advice for me.  I can spend weeks revising a paragraph, but as you can see from my track record, I'm not so good on completion!  Didn't I just list 5 novels with 30 (admittedly very polished but going nowhere!) pages?

What's your biggest writing obstacle?  How do you cope with it?

Stay tuned as the year progresses, and we'll see if my novel progresses with it!  Ultimately, I think it's all about finding the groove :)


  1. Thanks so much, Rena! I hope you'll be back from time to time :) Anything in particular you'd like to discuss?

  2. I'm impressed that you are attempting novels at all. I can't imagine writing anything over 1000 words!

  3. Yes, well, as you can see, I haven't gotten too far :) I'm more comfortable with board books, picture books and early readers, but I figure if I'm going to grow, I've got to break out of the comfort zone!

  4. That's alot of novels to finish, all the best to you and great success in 2011. :)

  5. You've completed novels - any advice?
    And good luck with yours too!


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