I finished my first book recently, and I have absolutely no intention of getting it published. Why? Because it was part of a learning curve. I needed to learn how to write a book, and then how to edit one, which is harder than you’d believe. The writing part is easy. You’re creating something, and it flows beautifully when it works. The editing is difficult, because it’s technical, slow and methodical. You have to pull everything apart and look at it objectively. I started my first book whilst at university, and that process has stretched almost three years. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long, although I have a feeling it can be blamed on various things – procrastination, distraction, and having a proper job. My energy levels are not suited to working a 42 hour week and then coming home to work on a novel. I don’t have a clue how other writers do it. I absolutely admire your dedication. It needs to be one or the other for me.
I read through the first book, and decided I didn’t want to send it off for publication. I’ve decided to view it as part of the learning process. I’ve already started working on my second novel, and the process of writing has been entirely different. In essence, it’s better. I’ve taken time off to focus on attention wholly on it. I treat this writing process as a 9-5 office job. I rise in the morning, make myself a strong coffee, and then get to work. I set myself writing targets and individual deadlines, and it’s worked brilliantly. I’m now 27,000 words into my new book, and it feels less troubled by procrastination, focus and other commitments. It’s been great. Fluid almost, and better than I could have hoped for.
I think the key for me has been getting over the self-doubt. I questioned my abilities on a daily basis, which wasn’t healthy for the mind or the creative process. My first mistake was expecting the first draft to be perfect, which is absolute nonsense. ‘The first draft of anything is shit,’ said Ernest Hemingway. This is comforting for someone like me, who read through the first draft of my first novel and decided I was doomed to be a failure. That doubt made me walk away from the book for a year, and I didn’t come back due to fear. Yes, fear. I was afraid of looking at it, and when I did? I picked holes at it, started edits and then abandoned them due to frustration. I didn’t believe in myself, or the book, which was the problem. When I finally began working on it properly again, I’d done my research, and realised that every first draft needs ripping apart and putting together again. I feel better equipped to be writing again now. I know what to expect, and this time? I won’t let self-doubt plague me into abandoning the work before it’s finished.
Wish me luck!