I’m in the middle of a fight. My rough draft is my opponent, and right now I feel like I’m losing. I’m frustrated. However, I have to remember that this is how I feel every time I write a rough draft, and this is not the time to give up. It is time to dig in, think, and analyze. But in order to push past the negative thoughts, I’ll have to bring every weapon in my writing arsenal to the battle field.
- Weapon #1 – Frustration
Frustration? The very thing that is making me feel anxious is the very thing I need to write this book. Writing characters into corners creates fabulous, productive frustration. It’s the magic portal past that top layer of fluffy clichés and memories of already written stories to raw imagination. Without frustration, I have no chance of winning.
- Weapon #2 – Character Goals
It seems so simple but sometimes when I’m in the middle of a story I forget this basic tactic. All I have to do is ask myself “What is the character’s goal at that moment?” If they don’t have a goal, then I have a big problem – but at least I know why my story is not moving forward.
- Weapon #3 – Emotion, Thought, Decision (I have these words handwritten and tacked to my bulletin board.)
These three little words will move my story to the next goal – Let’s say I’ve just ended a scene and I’m like “What do I do now?” I ask myself “What is my character feeling (emotion) after things didn’t go the way they planned?” Then my character has to think (thought) about what they are going to do next – which will lead me to their next decision – which is their next goal.
- Weapon #4 – Mix it up
I have the same habits every time I write. But when my draft starts trying to push me around (you know, writer’s block), something has to change. So instead of starting where I left off, I might go to the end and work on the very last scene, or I can go to the beginning to reintroduce myself to the inciting incident. If I really want to go crazy, instead my normal ritual of Morning, Coffee, and Quiet, I can change it to Night, Wine and Lots of Noise.
- Weapon #5 – A Pen (After all, it is mightier than the sword – yeah … I went there.)
Good old fashioned pen and paper brainstorming can get me through tough jams. I jot down every idea that comes to mind. I write down the questions I need answers to, problem solve if I’ve written a character into a corner, and/or make a difficult decision on which direction I want to go.
- Weapon #6 – Trust Myself
I had a dream the other night that an artist was frantically rearranging her pictures on display at an art show. She couldn’t get them perfect. I told her she knew colors and she knew balance and at some point she had to trust herself.
Trusting myself is important when I have to backtrack and cut sentences, paragraphs, and sometimes entire scenes. Deleting words can painful, but sometimes it is necessary roughness – But what makes it a little bit easier is that I don’t actually annihilate them, I just put them in word-jail (another file folder) for “just in case.”
So now that I’ve reminded myself that I have the tools to get this rough draft finished, I’m ready to get up and fight. Because this battle is worth fighting.
What is your secret weapon that leads you to the victory of a finished rough draft?
Love and Laughter,