Distance

They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, but it can also make us look at things with a clearer eye. Like with writing. (Did you forget I write? Yeah, I almost did too.)

I’ve been in the editing stage of my third draft since, oh… January, and while I’ve made a few half-hearted attempts to get back into it, I’ve really struggled. Friends keep assuring me I’ve had a lot going on and it’s understandable, but a lot of people have a lot going on and I haven’t wanted to use that excuse. (I feel like I’ve said all this in another post…)

Anyway, last weekend I finally tackled the chapter that’s been haunting me. A beta reader pointed out a police procedural thing that I hadn’t taken into account and that required me to pretty much rewrite an entire chapter. It’s been on my mind since Christmas and I finally sorted out how to fix it a couple weeks ago, and yet I still couldn’t get myself to sit down and write it. When the opening paragraphs started writing themselves in my head, I decided to finally sit down and just start.

2500 words later, I had my new chapter. I reread it this weekend and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I’m hoping that this will give me the momentum I need to finish this draft (I’m still only on page 40 of 330+) now that I’m not so afraid of the rewrites. I’ve hated spending so much time away from my wip, but clearly I needed the distance to see my work in a fresh light. Seems all that advice may be right after all.

For you writers, have you had times like this where it took months to get over yourself and just do the work? Care to share a particular instance or scene that nearly made you throw in the towel or move onto something else?

About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama. SCBWI member since 2015.

19 Comments

    • Travis, that’s so great you’re almost at the end! I cannot wait to read more of it. (I realize there’s a good chance you may have posted some on your blog. I’m painfully behind.)

  1. This sounds a bit like a fortune cookie, but …

    You have a lot of new responsibilities and directions life has pulled you; new environment and new plateaus. Plus, new decisions mixed in with some old ones and all that. So now instead of a clear cut path of writing and editing, you have choices to be made. These kinds of things affect creative people deeper than we may believe. I envy people who’ve still got that clear-cut pathway to be able to sit down and write and edit day to day. Heck, just to be able to have those hours back to be able to cultivate ideas and till that soil …

    And now your lottery numbers …

    • Jason, I emailed you earlier (as you know…) but thank you for this comment. I always love the perspective you give on the creative outlook on things. That combined with me being a Pisces, which I think makes me extra emotional at times, really makes it hard for me to focus when things get overwhelming.

      I’m still waiting for my lotto numbers.

  2. Jon

    If I feel myself getting stuck, I usually try to come at it from a different angle. You know, I’ll write it from a different POV first, or sit down and ask question after question. For me, getting stuck usually means I’m forcing the plot to do something it doesn’t want to do.

    • Jon, that’s a good idea, I just wish those things worked for me. I hate anything that seems like busywork (like character sketches) even though I logically understand how they can help in the long run.

      That’s a good point about the plot. My issue here was just dread/fear of the work. I need to get over that.

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  4. ab

    I don’t usually struggle through while I’m writing. I usually think I’m done & park it for a while. When I go back to it after a few months, I almost always find a “DOH!” and need to fix something though. Glad you are back at it. I’ll try to crack that WIP-whip on ya now & then & keep you in the game 🙂

  5. JLC

    Yes. More often than I ought to. I haven’t worked on writing since May. I’m ok with it though. I have other diversions that keep me busy during the summer. I know I’ll get back to writing when the rainy season begins again. 😉

    Awesome job with your chapter! Way to go!

  6. Nadine

    So glad you are working on the book!

    I’ve had months where I haven’t done a thing and then go back to a WIP and definitely see it with clearer eyes.

    Keep going on ATF, I’m excited for you!!

    • Thanks Nadine. You are by far my biggest cheerleader and I appreciate it so much!

      *shakes pom poms*

      I just wish I had your determination when it comes to edits. You get things done so much faster than me!

  7. It took me forever to finish my little novella (read: sick of it and couldn’t make it to novel-length). Months later I pulled it out and wanted to burn it. Another few months went by and it’s not bad but it’s happily trunked. I plan on pulling it out in two years and thinking it’s fabulous and ready for re-writes. Hmmmm, talk about zombied manuscripts… 😉

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