Friday, July 04, 2008

Writing the Not-So-Great American Novel, Part 2

Happy Fourth of July! It is a day to remember and appreciate the freedom we enjoy in this great country, such as the freedom I have to produce my humble educational comic strip.

My birthday has come and gone, and I have to report that I have not completed my goal of creating the first draft of a novel. I have however breached the 10,000 word mark, which is further than I've ever gone before, and I fully intend to continue this endeavor.

Lessons learned so far: I have found that it is really easy to lose motivation. This is probably the worst enemy of completing the 50,000 word challenge. After a few days of frenzied writing, my day-to-day life catches up to me: going out with friends; work projects; social obligations; Battlestar Galactica; etc. I found myself putting off writing one day, then two days, then three days at a time. After a while my head was no longer in my book, and that is when my inner editor pounced with a litany of doubts and fears: my plot is dumb; my characters are flat; I don't know enough about my subject matters... why bother continuing?

I found the best way to combat this creeping despair is just to force yourself to write at least a sentence each day, even if you don't feel like it. No matter how tired or uninspired you feel, you can write a sentence. This forces you to keep your head in the story. You end up thinking about the plot, settings, and characters at least a little bit each day, and you avoid feelings of futility by knowing you can quit after one sentence.

This calls to mind a great blog post I read about the power of daily routine. Think about it: if you wrote just one sentence per day since that moment when you first thought, "I could write a book," you probably could have written a book by now (probably not a good one, but hey).

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