Lessons from the middle

My word count was a pathetic 485 yesterday (plus 1,300+ words on the blog, but we’ve established that doesn’t count towards my daily 2k goal, as it DOESN’T GET THE GORRAM BOOKS WRITTEN). The brainstorming I did on the blog helped a little, in that now I have a better idea of where the story is going, and I see plenty of opportunities to flesh out the outline even more (For instance, what’s Susan doing for the entire second act, just tagging along? What are the consequences for Jack when he keeps failing to capture Daniel?).

And yet, 485 words. I got about halfway into the fight scene and chickened out.

Part of it was that I wasn’t happy with the action. But I have to remind myself that this is a first draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Hell, it doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be written. I could have Daniel and Batarel square dancing at this point for all it matters. I just get through it and get on to the next scene, then the one after that. So that’s something I have to drill into my head today, literally if necessary. I have a hand drill right here.

But the other aspect to my hesitancy yesterday is a bigger problem, and something that’s going to be a lot harder to get past. I’ve historically had a scarcity approach to my writing, “saving” stuff to write later rather than writing it today. This is subtly different from run of the mill procrastination. It really feels like I’m “protecting” the material by not writing it now. This “save the best for last” or “leave some for later” mentality is a core aspect of my personality, affecting the way I write to the way I eat. But it’s not helping me as a writer. I need to figure out how to free myself to write, now, as much as I can. I don’t need to stretch this seven book series out over my whole life. I need to trust that when I get to the end of this story, more stories will appear, even if I don’t see them now because all this other stuff is in the way.

So, in short:

  • Don’t worry about getting it right. Get it written.
  • Don’t worry about gaps in the outline. That leaves the flexibility you’re going to need when your characters do something unexpected.
  • Don’t save for tomorrow what you could write today. Let tomorrow attend to itself.

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