Musings From a Writer

I believe myself that a good writer doesn’t really need to be told anything except to keep at it.

Chinua Achebe

This quote is one that I keep around my desk at all times, because it is hard to keep going. Writing is hard. It’s gruelling and time-consuming and writers block is a real evil thing. But when you push through it all and end up with a first draft of a novel… the feeling of satisfaction is amazing. Then, you realise after all that hard work, even more is just about to begin. The dreaded editing process starts.

That’s the stage I’m up too. I finished my novel – and I was so incredibly excited to have a finished manuscript sitting on my computer. And six months later, I’m still head deep in editing, re-writing and more editing. It’s a tedious process. My afternoons are consumed with drinking coffee and editing and refining my novel. I spend days on editing and days on writing new content – I need to break it up a bit so I don’t go crazy. I’ve learnt so much during the editing process and I’m more aware of issues like overwriting and overuse of adjectives (oh the dreaded adjectives). Editing is necessary, and I learnt very quickly that it is needed in order to create something worth ready.

Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.

Patricia Fuller

I started my novel three years ago. It was originally just a short story for one of the subjects in my Bachelor’s degree – but I had so many ideas for the concept that I fleshed it all out and an entire novel was born. It was exciting to jot down all my ideas and create a storyline that was longer than a few pages. However, writing it was difficult. I had so many obstacles and writer’s block was my mortal enemy. I would spend days not writing due to various issues in my personal and professional life, and this would result in a writer’s block so strong that I thought nothing could break it. I’d spend hours staring at an empty screen, willing myself to have ideas and be able to write. I managed to push through this, although it was difficult. It took me three whole years to complete my novel because of my inexperience and difficulties.

Not only this, but over those three years I continued studying and completed my Bachelor of Creative Writing. My writing grew stronger through this degree, but that meant that my entire writing style changed. When I started writing, I wasn’t confident in my abilities and although I had constant ideas, putting them onto paper was clunky and awkward. As I continued writing and completed my degree, I became more competent and learnt how to write in a unique, effective way. The transition of inexperienced to competent was striking when I first read through my completed novel – which is probably because I had a six-month hiatus during a hard semester at University, and my writing grew so much stronger during those six months.

The difference was as simple as this: The first half of my book was very clunky and read like a bad fanfiction while the second half was more refined, concise and didn’t contain 20 million adjectives. This difference created a dramatic editing process. I had to edit and rewrite the entire first half of my novel multiple times. It was packed with unimportant descriptions and useless information. The characters were bland and unestablished. It needed serious work to match up with the second half. Six months later and the entire plot of the story has changed. New ideas were fleshed out and trivial ones I started with were removed. It has been a tedious and gruelling time editing my novel, but it has been amazing to see my progress as a writer. I went from someone who had ideas and wanted to be an author to actually being able to put my ideas onto paper in a readable manner. A quote from Stephen King sticks out for me a lot, that writing alone is telling yourself a story but rewriting and editing is how you remove unnecessary things that will be heavily critiqued – and this advice really struck home with me.

When you write a story, you are telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are NOT the story…Your stuff starts out being just for you…but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right, as right as you can…it belongs to anyone who wants to read it, or criticise it.

Stephen King

Now my book is turning into something I’m incredibly proud of and can’t wait to have other people read. I still have a lot of editing ahead of me. I’m on draft 3 of the entire book (after about 15 revisions of the first half) and I’m still introducing new ideas and refining everything. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but I’ve set myself a deadline to finish editing by the end of the year! I’m aiming to start the process of publishing my book next year – so I need to put my butt into gear and finish editing, and not be so pedantic. I’m sure there will always be parts of my novel I’d like to refine, but whatever is done by the end of the year is how it will stay. Now, let’s see if the procrastination bug leaves me alone for the year so I can finalise this novel and start the process of releasing it to the public!

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