03 December 2014

Starting from Scratch (Somewhat)

It's that time again! The first Wednesday of every month is the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Click the link to sign up! And be sure to check out the IWSG Guide to Publishing Beyond, which is available now. It has a lot of great advice on writing, publishing, and marketing, and it's FREE! I contributed a piece on choosing between first and third person. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and everyone else who helped to put the anthology together.


I've got plenty to be insecure about this month. I'm not looking forward to Christmas at all. I need to really start figuring out what my next step is going to be in life because I've been slacking off way too much. And I'm still trying to figure out how to throw my muse a birthday party.

But I don't want to overwhelm you guys so I guess I'll talk about the book. Sounds ominous, right? I'm still avoiding it. I think about it all the time, but I can't bring myself to work on it or even read it. I know I have to do a massive overhaul of the last third of the book, but it's hard to figure out how to change things.

I'm trying to take on a different mindset. I basically want to start with a blank slate, at least from a certain point. I want to pretend I've never written that last third so that I can come up with some ideas that are new, and not just keep rewriting the same moments that didn't work in the first place. 

It's scary, but also kind of fun, because coming up with new ideas is always more interesting than editing to me. I still have a few scenes I plan on reusing, and ultimately the book will still end the same way, but I'm hoping for a lot of things to change along the way. When I finally adopted this mindset and started thinking about what would happen next, I immediately came up with a new scene that will help flesh out a subplot. I had this block for so long, where I knew things weren't working but had no idea how to fix them. Wiping the slate clean has helped me get through that.

Do I have everything figured out yet? Definitely not. But it's one step in the right direction. 

37 comments:

  1. Hey that's great. Half way through reading I was ready with advice for finding the new third - but it sounds like you're on your way. I know if I'm ever in that position, I day dream and take long walks and just let my muse wander. But you don't need to listen to me :-)

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  2. Wow, blank slate is definitely scary - I spent the last week terrified that I'd misplaced my 'key' notes for restructuring my novella, and I did not want to start from scratch.

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  3. Be proud of yourself for taking action, for moving forward! Things will fall into place with your writing and your life. :)

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  4. The first draft of my current WIP had a completely different ending than what I have today. When I picked it up a month or so after a much-needed break, I literally deleted the last third of the book. I just highlighted and hit the delete key. It needed to go. Started with a new version of the manuscript and went from there. Scary as hell, but well worth it. Good luck on filling up your clean slate!

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  5. Woot! It's a great start! I'm glad to hear things are looking better for you. Keep it up!

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  6. I'm here from Alex's blog. I really enjoyed your post and will follow you. Sounds like you have a great start. Revisions can always be daunting, but don't give up, push forward. Also, I use Scribophile and Critters online critique sites. Many of the members have given great suggestions on how to progress my novel. Sometimes a second set of eyes really makes a difference. Best of luck. Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

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  7. Taking out the last third of your WIP may just be the thing. Sometimes rewriting something makes it better. I rewrote a whole series, completely changing it and I love it now. And it sounds like it's working for you. :) As always...Good luck!

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  8. Wishing you all the best with finding a new ending. Taking what you have written that's good and asking key questions will get you where you need to go. A really helpful book I've been reading that helps with this is Story Trumps Structure by Steven James. He has lots a great questions to ask as you plan, draft and revise to make stories flow naturally--rather than some stilted formula to follow. It's super encouraging.

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  9. I think once you make the first step and start the job, then everything else will fall into place. Sometimes we psyche ourselves out thinking about the magnitude of the job and not how it will always be accomplished by taking small steps.

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    1. I agree in that I hear many writers over thinking things. It's just words, seriously. Just have fun with it.

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  10. Well, since I just posted about taking a break, I have to say I highly support you taking a break, too :) Sometimes we need them! And don't beat yourself up about it. Take time to refuel, take a break, and get back to it when you're ready.

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  11. One step in the right direction is huge. Don't discount it.

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  12. Truly re-writing, as in "writing it again" is a brave thing to do. I admire your strength.

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  13. It sounds like you have a viable plan that will work. Good for you. I know it's hard to just get rid of that last third that you did put time and effort into, but if it isn't working, it's got to go. Now you can move forward, which is always a good thing :)

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  14. I am so happy you are able to work it out and move on with it again. I've been having this issue with one of my novels for years now. I keep trying to think of how to fix/change it so it's not the same thing and I keep having this major block too. It's been on the back burner but once in awhile I pull it out and tinker with it. I hope I can get to where you are at some point. :)

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  15. I understand you about the blank slate. Sometimes that's the less overwhelming option. You feel clearer and more focused. Good luck.

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  16. Remember, if you get really stuck, you can always bounce ideas off a fellow writer. I have one go-to author friend who excels at that sort of thing.

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  17. Glad you found a new approach! Blank slate or not, the important thing is that you found a way to fight the block. Good luck!!!

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  18. Taking a break is a good thing when you're stuck. Sounds like the muse is coming around, though. Don't force it, but be willing to be led. ;)

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  19. Sometimes it's good to just delete and start fresh. It's scary, but it can do the trick. :) Good luck with your big changes! (And I know how you feel! I had to pretty much rewrite my whole middle.)

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  20. I've done that with a few of my projects! It's good to recognize a block, wipe the problem parts out, and start anew! I'm sure that you'll have a stronger book for it! Best wishes!

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  21. The blank page is such a challenge. I admire your willingness to face it to make your book better. Good luck!

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  22. One step at a time is the way to do it...even if it feels like tiptoeing most days. Good for you for having the courage to start over. Sometimes it's easier to create new words than rearrange and fix the ones we have.

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  23. Take it 'bird by bird' as Anne Lamott writes. You can do it. Lots of luck!

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  24. well, it sounds like your muse finally helped you out and deserves a party! i like starting fresh opposed to editing too, but editing always turns up eventually!

    the thing about hosting a blog party is it usually involves the hostess to give something away like in a blog hop or contest or giveaway. what you get is whatever you ask for - entries in the hop/contest/giveaway could be as simple as a like on your facebook page or blog to asking for their favorite piece of writing advice (or taking a shelfie, ha ha) my gift would be to help you host or offer a prize for you to give away =) let me know!

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  25. When I get that feeling, I cut and paste what I don't think works to a Title of Book Junk file and save it. Then I do what I feel compelled to do with the writing from scratch. Often times, I will get to a spot where a scene I had will work and I can go to that junk file and copy and paste it back. I never just delete- sometimes, even what I think is garbage holds nuggets of wonder...and some nuggets of pooh.

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  26. Good luck! And it definitely sounds like you're heading in the right direction.

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  27. I can feel your pain. I had that problem with both my first book and my novella that I have cued up. Had to rewrite the ending to the first (took me about a week and half of serious stress) and flesh out the ending of the second (that took a month).

    Father Nature's Corner

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  28. Good luck and keep on working at it. Sometimes just giving yourself some space and time will work too. Have a great weekend! :)

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  29. Sometimes making the plan is the hardest part. I think it must take guts to let go of something already written and start over like that. Happy rewriting.

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  30. I have the exact same kinds of problems! You sound exactly like me. I really don't know what to say, other than to just keep writing and eventually, you'll figure out what to do about your story problems. Writing something else can help, too.

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  31. redoing anything is hard to face. but, ya gotta do it. the quicker you go start, the quicker you can get it over with!!

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  32. You do have a lot to face up to. I'd much rather edit than think of new ideas. You'll work your way through it I'm sure.

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  33. Congrats on the breakthrough! I'm sure once you get rolling, you won't be able to stop.

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  34. Keep going you'll get there I'm sure. Thinking of it as a clean slate is probably a good idea, that way you can create something brand new. Good luck, Sarah.

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  35. Revising is always the hardest part for me too. I give myself and my MS a long rest before diving back in. It seems to really help me see things more clearly. But DO SOMEthing. Because doing something is MUCH better than doing nothing.

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