Picture this scenario. Your second draft is stuck in what I call – the middle of the book quagmire. Feeling upbeat you decide to find a way out of the boggy middle bit of your draft novel and get writing.
It is not long before you decide to lie on the sofa, stuff Oreo biscuits in quick succession into your mouth and ignore the little promise you made to yourself about turning your author dream into a reality.
Ten minutes of lying on the sofa is followed by a conversation about writer motivation on Twitter, quickly followed by a strong urge to search Amazon for that writing craft book everyone on Facebook was raving about. The FB comment someone left claiming the craft book was magical and was responsible for getting them an eye-watering book deal is stuck in your mind. Just thinking what you could do after reading that craft book makes you quiver with excitement and you chomp on a few more biscuits.
In addition you also check out your author friend’s latest debut. You buy your friend’s book and then tweet that you have just bought it. This activity is quickly followed by an update of your Goodreads account. Feeling productive you browse Pinterest for quotes about how good it feels to be chasing your dreams.
A few hours later… your writing craft book is arriving in three days, your author friend’s debut is on your Kindle and your tweet about writing motivation has been liked over 20 times.
But you are staring gloomily at your laptop – you haven’t written anything.
You wasted your writing time and worse still your second draft is still in that pesky quagmire.
The next day the same happens. No words appear, but you do make a start on the Xmas shopping, clean out the kitchen cupboards and hoover the stairs a number of times.
Prepare for a special form of guilt which is like no other!
Things to expect:
You will be joined, inside your head, by an annoying little voice which will say on repeat; “you should be writing.”
You will grimace at Twitter as other writers will be tweeting about how many words they have hammered out. I guarantee that the writers who you normally follow and struggle to bang out words, will be on TOP form! They will have churned out hundreds.
You will get a bit twitchy.
You will start to feel ashamed.
Before you know it you feel like crap.
The only way to survive this horrid guilt trip is to find out what caused you to waste time.
Now, before I start, you might find buying that magical writing craft book, the one everyone was raving about on Facebook, results in you hammering out 30,000 words and getting an eye watering book deal. This has NEVER happened to me but I like to live in hope with such writing related purchases.
In my experience…the issue is hidden in what you are working on. I ALWAYS waste time when I have Writer’s Block. The poor souls on Instagram and Facebook will know about how I wasted the last three or so months and have suffered with extreme writer guilt. It was all to do with my draft. There was something wrong with it.
Assess where you are with your draft and hunt out that reason why you stopped. Treat this exercise in the same way you would when looking for a missing key or wallet. Think back to what you were last doing on your draft when the words stopped. That’s where the issue is, my friend.
You can have a stern word with yourself. Face up to the fact you wasted valuable writing time and accept responsibility. You can tell yourself you didn’t really need that writing craft book, your author friend’s book could have been downloaded as a reward for writing and you can’t face explaining the reason for the Pinterest quote hunt.
But this is all pointless because you have not dealt with the issue.
I have had several stern words with myself but it has been futile. The elephant in the room was that I hated the changes I had made to my main character.
Remind yourself of your writing goals for the year. Again a pointless exercise.
Until you return to that middle of the book quagmire, put on some creative waterproofs, tie a rope around your waist and wade in to drag out your second draft – THE GUILT WILL CONTINUE. Trust me – it doesn’t go away.
If things are going nowhere in the middle of your novel cause someone a lot of fictional pain. That should get things moving.
To all those writers who are out there struggling with this – I feel your pain!
Have a great day!