So, I’d like to just dive straight into my topic for the day: Refocusing.
If you’ll recall from my post last week, I mentioned I only had roughly 10k words left in Alabama Rain before it would be finished.
Now, 10k words normally only takes me two, three days tops to bang out. I know what I want to write, after all. But, there is something about the finish line, at least for me, that causes me to go a little, um, scatterbrained. It’s inevitable. I start getting distracted, and it’s taken me a few goes at this to figure out why, but I think I’ve gotten it pegged down to four main points.
For The Love of The Story
If you’ve asked me anything about Alabama Rain, you can probably guess that I love it. I adore the characters I’ve created. I find the story beautifully tragic. I think, no I hope, all authors feel this way about their work. And, for 90% of the book I felt that way, but I kept thinking: Just think, 50k more words and you get to start that *next* thing!
Because, we all want to start the next thing, right? (Also, I’m blogging about my new approach to dealing with the shiny new idea next week.)
And I’m totally that person who daydreams about her next project—but then I get to a certain point where I get a sort of sense of nostalgia for my current project. I get a little googly-eyed over it. I swoon for that feeling I had when it was my new project and I was just getting to know Corrie and Mabel and Nellie and Clarence. As much as I don’t like using my adoration for this world as a crutch, I cannot deny that I’m a little sad to say goodbye to them.
What’s that? Did I hear someone whisper: “turn it into a series, Aila!”
I’ve toyed with that idea. I feel that one character, who is really a B character, by the name of Tinky, could easily have her own book, telling her own story. Maybe I’ll tackle that at some point, but it isn’t something I’m ready to commit to now.
For The Fear of The Unknown
Sure, I love my little notebook of new ideas. I graze my fingertips over the cover an obscene number of times per week. But, what if I don’t do them justice?
The fear is real, folks.
I’ve been stewing over this idea for Underthings for the better part of two years. It’s evolved. A lot. A lot, a lot.
Finishing Alabama Rain means I’ll be starting a new project shortly thereafter. What if I am unable to it justice? What if I get so frustrated with the new project it’s hard not to give up on myself? I was in a really nice, inspired groove with Alabama Rain—and in my mind, it’ll be hard for any future project to live up to it even if I know on an intellectual level that’s not necessarily true.
For The Sake of Home and Sanity
These last few weeks, especially, I’ve had a difficult time splitting my focus, and I’ve let some household chores fall by the wayside. I’ll tell myself: Aila, today is the day you’re going to scrub the shower or Aila, today is the day you’re going to clean out the pantry or Aila, today is the day you’re going to finally take all that stuff to the thrift store.
But today, and all those other days, is usually when I write and say I’ll get to those things after I’ve written the next 2k words or the next chapter. But, the problem is that those chores are always in the back of my mind, and I go back and forth between the two and essentially anything that gets done, writing or otherwise, only gets half-done, and it drives me freakin’ nuts! So, these last 10k words, I’ve flipped the script and now I’m having to carve writing time out of my other-stuff time. Hey, at least my carpets have been freshly vacuumed. It’s not a total loss.
For The Love of The Next Thing
I know, I know, I just said that the next project has me chewing on antacids. But, I’m a writer brimming with ideas. They’re shiny. Scary, but shiny.
I think part of the reason I’m teeming with so many of them right now is because a little part of me wonders when my last solid story idea will come to me. I’m not ready to stop writing. Finishing a project always makes me reflect on the last of things. Alabama Rain’s final chapter. The final word. I’ll have a final idea some day. Maybe it’ll be when I’m old and gray or maybe it’ll be in five years, or next year.
Not having another idea in the hopper is a scary notion to me. So, as I finish something, a sort of creative-survival instinct kicks in and my synapses on are fire.
Since I’m also keenly aware of how fickle new ideas can be, here one minute and gone the next, this means I’m devoting at least a little time to recording them.
Refocus or Bust
All that said, it’s time to stow the bull and get it done. Yes, everything I said above is true, no matter how annoying, no matter how cliche, no matter how silly. But, it isn’t insurmountable. It is definitely going to mean it takes me a few extra days. Here’s how I am refocusing, regrouping, and getting back on track.
Acknowledge The Hurdle | Denying that something else is on my mind isn’t going to make the problem go away. Instead, it’s much more productive to stop for a moment to assess what’s getting in my creative way. If it’s more pressing, I should just take care of it in the moment. This includes things like eating, drinking, sleeping, etc. Because, yes, I’ve put those things off a lot for this book.
Bullet Pointing New Ideas | In the case of new ideas, I used to free write for a while in order to get my ideas down on the page. Why? Because that was some of the prevailing advice floating around out there. It just doesn’t work the best for me. Now, I will riff on this more next week, but for now I’m using bullet lists. Speaking of lists…
Lists, Lists, Lists | All those household chores or other things I need to do, like taking stuff to the post office, or marking up notes for a critique partner, or writing a blog post…those things, when written down, can be given a visual weight, so I can better prioritize all I need to do, including getting to the end of this book.
Rely on My Tribe | When those pesky feelings of inadequacy start popping up like pimples on prom night, I have a group of ladies I can always count on to pull me back and set me right. Their words of encouragement motivate and inspire me.
If you don’t have the same finish-line issues I do, I am stupidly jealous of you—and obviously this post wasn’t exactly for you. If you made it this far, though, I appreciate your sticking around.
I’ve talked to other people who have this problem, though, and they have their own reasons. Some people don’t want to finish their manuscript because then that means those other pesky parts of publishing: querying (if you are going trad) formatting, cover design, marketing, etc. etc. Some people even shared some of my pesky problems.
So, the whole point of this was to let you know you’re not alone if you start getting a little flighty when you start nearing the finish line with your work.
Speaking of which, I’ve got work to do. ♥