Welcome to Part 3 of my series How to Finish the First Draft. You know how to get the words out (no matter how bad they are) and that you need to make writing those sucky words a priority, but there’s still that little voice niggling in the back of your mind, trying to distract you from getting your work done.
One of the biggest obstacles to finishing a first draft isn’t writer’s block, a lack of ideas, or a general feeling that you suck as a writer (although that last one can really do a number on your self-esteem). The biggest obstacle is not making writing a priority.
I’ll repeat that. You must make writing a priority.
Despite what some people may lead you to believe, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. How you choose to spend those 24 hours is what separates those who plan to write a novel someday and those who write novels. If you truly want to write, it has to come before other things fighting for your time.
Melanie Hooyenga first started writing as a teenager and finds she still relates best to that age group. She has lived in Washington DC, Chicago, and Mexico, but has finally settled down in her home state of Michigan. When not at her day job as a Communications Director at a nonprofit, you can find Melanie attempting to wrangle her Miniature Schnauzer Owen and playing every sport imaginable with her husband Jeremy.
Strong female protagonists are nothing new in literature. From Nancy Drew to Katniss Everdeen, teen girls have always had strong role models—if they knew where to look. But something has shifted in the last decade.
When I agreed to speak to 200 eighth graders, I thought, “How hard can it be? Adults talk to kids all the time.” But THIS adult has very little interaction with anyone under the age of 25 so needless to say, the fear set in very quickly.
A lot of my fellow writers can name an author who inspired them to become writers, or who inspire them to continue writing as adults. Neil Gaiman, Sue Grafton, Judy Blume… the names of these icons roll off their tongues without hesitation. But for me, it’s a little more complicated.
If you hang around authors enough, you’ll hear the phrase “be careful or you’ll end up in my novel.” Many threaten to murder, ridicule, or torture real-life people through characters who may only subtly resemble the characters in the book, but the author knows it’s them. I’ve never killed a character based on a real person—if anything I tend to base characters on people I LIKE—but I have made a few the antagonist. In Fracture, the female bully was based on a particularly lovely woman I worked with, and about two weeks ago I realized who inspired the Snow Bunnies, aka the Snow Bitches, in The Slope Rules.
The Slope Rules comes out February 24, but is for pre-order on TODAY! Grease meets Mean Girls in this action-packed romance.
My word for the new year is persevere. I plan to continue on my current path and continue steadfastly with my writing and publication goals.
My current wip (work in progress) is a rewrite of a women’s fiction novel that I wrote in 2008 while living in Mexico. At the time it’d been ten years since I’d lived in Michigan, and while I wasn’t planning to stay in Mexico, I also wasn’t planning to return to Michigan. So I set …