When I first sat down to write this post, I had two things on my mind: (1) a recent breakup with a guy I feel isn’t quite emotionally mature enough to be in a relationship, and (2) perfectionism in writing. Then I thought about it and decided to steer clear of the relationship stuff, heh.
So yes, I’ve learned how to let go of situations that just aren’t meant/ready to be, but over time I’ve also realized that I’m slowly learning how to let go of words.
Learning When To Stop
Agonizing over every word you put onto the page just isn’t good for your mental health, lol. It’s taxing and ultimately pointless. Now, I still think it’s important to carefully think about what you say before you say it–or rather before you put it down on the page–but when you’re writing those words can always be changed.
…And changed, and changed, and changed… (Seeing a pattern here?)
Though, at some point, however, you have to stop, right?
But for me, personally, until recently I didn’t think I’d written enough words to understand when would be a good point to stop because I hadn’t really had enough practice at writing (or fully understand my story). But some five-and-a-half years later… I feel like I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can think about a scene, write it, detach myself from it briefly then come back to it and make a clear judgment call as to what still needs to be fixed, why, and how.
A long while ago I spent a lot of time just reading through my whole initial manuscript and making notes on what I wanted to change. Many of those notes ended up helping me to systematically comb through the manuscript and make quick changes…but then there were also a lot of times where I felt it was better to toss the notes to the wind and just wing a complete rewrite of certain sections or scenes.
…which led to me realize that I have a particular preferred method of writing.
I feel like I’m an intuitive writer–which, perhaps, is similar to being a “pantser” but involves more. You see, I don’t want to think out every little detail before I start because that feels really tedious. Instead, I actually enjoy discovering certain things by writing them out. Granted, some aspects of storytelling truly can benefit from a plan or at least some forethought (worldbuilding, plot, characters) to provide a good foundation to start with, but even these elements can continue to grow and/or change as you start actually writing the story. Also, I find that if I think about something too much or try to force something to work…it usually doesn’t. Sometimes I just have to let go of my understanding of a scene, take a break, then come back to it without a detailed agenda and just write what feels natural to me.
If I keep my “plan” basic and allow myself room to “play,” then I tend to get results I’m more satisfied with later.
The Bottom Line?
I feel like I’m more or less at the point where I want to let go of the 200K+/- words that comprise Element 7–not because I’m sick of looking at them (though at times I am) but because I can finally find satisfaction in them. Granted, there are certain areas I’ve edited that still need a bit more work, though I’d say about 90-ish% of what I’ve edited is at the point where I want it to be, as far as plot and character development go.
This is good because that means that after Thanksgiving I won’t have nearly as much work to do on the manuscript as I did going into this first major edit. Instead, I can focus on silly grammatical and homonym errors, sentence flow and whatnot.
As for now, I’m at 94% with heavy edits. Only 15 days until Turkey Day!
In Other News…
I have additionally been working on a plan to get my own interior design business up and running–yet another goal for the New Year. Had to do a lot of research to figure out how much it’s gonna cost me and all the steps I’d have to take as far as paperwork and whatnot go, but it’s all starting to coalesce from a vague OMGTHISISCRAZY idea into something I could actually do.
Scary, but honestly at this point I feel like I don’t have much else of a choice, career-wise… The job market for young, hardly experienced college grads in my field just doesn’t seem to be budging any time soon!
What lessons have you recently learned about writing?
Any particular insights that have come to you about writing in general, or perhaps your own personal process? If so, I’d love to hear about it!