The Post-Project Funk

A little while ago I finished up the first draft of a manuscript. Since then, I’ve tried (and failed) multiple times to pick up another unfinished first draft of a project that’s been sitting around for the past few months. Needless to say, it hasn’t gone well.

I’ve maybe managed to hash out a few hundred words – and that’s probably being generous. The words just aren’t flowing like they were while I was working on the other manuscript. At first, I thought it was just because I wasn’t quite sure where to go with the new story from where I’ve left off. But it isn’t that, and it’s taken me until now to realize that lack of plot isn’t the problem I have. I have the post-project funk.

In a way, the post-project funk is sort of like a version of writer’s block. The only difference? Instead of having all of these ideas inside your head ready to write only to just not be able to get them written down, you just feel tired and burnt out. There’s a small part of you that knows you need to start working on another project, but you just don’t know how. And in a way, it makes sense. You’ve just completed a piece of writing. You’ve poured your heart and soul into the thing and given it your all. How are you supposed to just clear everything about that story out of your head and move onto something new?

For some writer’s, the main problem is coming up with another great story idea to write about. For other’s, they have their next project already in their minds, but just don’t know how to start. In my particular case, I have a project to work on (the continuation of a re-write I’ve had on the go for a couple of years), but I just can’t find the will to get the words down onto the page.

I know what I need to do. I need to take a break from writing and let my batteries recharge. November was insanity – I ended up writing over 55,000 words over the course of the month, and then continued that writing high right on into December until I finished the first draft of a manuscript. In the past six weeks or so, I’ve probably written close to 75,000 words. I believe that’s a new high for me, so it’s no wonder why I feel burnt out.

The thing is, I don’t want to take a break. I’ve set some writing goals for 2017 – I want to have two separate manuscript first drafts completed by the time the snow melts. More specifically, I’ve set targets of the end of February for one and the end of April for the other. With these dates set in stone, I don’t want to hesitate a moment and waste any time I could be writing. I know I’m going to need all the time I can get to make these deadlines.

This is a problem I know many writers out there face. Deadlines are a thing – and a very important thing they are. They put the fear in writers everywhere because they force us to have produced something good, even when the words just aren’t flowing right or we just can’t get in the writing mood. Personally, even though my deadlines have only been put in place for me by me, I still want to stick to them. I want to have a rigid structure and timeline I need to stick to or else I know my writing time will disappear into almost nothing. It’s happened before to me and then I went into a dry spell for a couple of months.

For this problem, there really isn’t a solution that involves continuing to write – at least that I’ve managed to find yet. If you have any, please, feel free to share them. For me, the truth is when a writer is burnt out they really do need to take a break. It doesn’t have to be long, but they need a bit of time separate from their work so they can recharge their batteries and get ready for the next battle with their words.

This is the point that I am at and I know that many other writers are at too. So take a day or two – busy yourself with something else. Go watch a couple of movies. Go hang out with some friends. Go out for walks, or go jogging. Do something that isn’t writing. Soon, the words will come back to you. Soon, you’ll be entranced in your new world and new characters. Soon, you will create another masterpiece. And then you’ll just do this all again.

Until next time.

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2016: The Year of Rewrites and Finishing the Unfinished

Since there’s now less than a month left in 2016, I thought I would dedicate this entry to the overall progression of my writing and writing projects from the past 12 months. As my title suggests, 2016 has been a year of reworking and finishing projects which have already existed in the writing folder on my Google Drive account for quite some time. In years past, I’ve continued to start new project after new project without ever finishing anything. At first, it looked like that would happen in 2016 as well, though instead of beginning new projects, it was rewrites instead.

I managed to change that somehow – and I’m still not entirely sure how, but boy am I ever thankful. I’ve a new sense of urgency to finish all of these stories and have spent the better part of the year going back to pieces I’d just left off in the middle of nowhere, dusting them off, and pushing forward to finish them.

I dedicated both sessions of this years Camp NaNoWriMo to such an effort, tackling two separate unfinished manuscripts, determined to add to their word counts and get them closer to being finished. I’ve succeeded – partially at least. As I write this, I’m a mere scene or two away from completing a first draft, so that should be done by the end of 2016.

None of this has come easily, mind you. Along my way this year, I’ve stumbled upon many topics I’ve had to face. These topics became focus to a lot of my writing articles I’ve posted this year. Difficulties of point of views (especially male ones), issues with side characters, choosing the right name… All of these things and more I’ve had to deal with over the past twelve months. It hasn’t been easy. There have been many points where I’ve just sat in front of my laptop with a blank document, wondering if I was ever going to get the words down onto my page. But I’ve persevered, and through writing my blog entries about these various topics, it’s helped me push through.

I guess that’s the point of writing though. We have our ups, and we have our downs. Writers are constantly learning, constantly having to update things, research new topics, find solutions to problems that seem unsolvable.

It’s what we do.

So, in conclusion, I hope each and every one of your writing projects have flourished into something fantastic and you’ve managed to write your way out of your issues. I know I have (at least for some of them!).

Now, we move onto the new year. Here’s hoping 2017 is the most creative year yet! Happy writing!

Until next time.

Life After NaNoWriMo

So it’s official. November has come and gone and with that, another year of NaNoWriMo is over too. To everyone who participated, congratulations! Even if you didn’t hit the 50,000 word goal target, you’ve still created something, which is the core of what NaNoWriMo is striving to achieve. So kudos to you!

With that said, I’m sure you’re feeling a lot of things right now. And you all must equally have just as many questions. The biggest and most common one? Now what? Now that I’ve written a novel, what do I do?

The answer? Whatever you want to. Now, I do recommend taking a well deserved break. Go celebrate, you deserve it! Enjoy the fact that you’ve just created something! Go out and have some fun (because if you’re anything like me you pretty much have been living under a rock for the past 30 days and haven’t really seen the light of day much).

There are a few things I do suggest you do now that NaNo is over.

  1. Write down any further thoughts you have on your novel (if it isn’t complete, or even if you know certain parts need some major revision). Just jot them down so you’ll remember them later on.
  2. Set it aside! I know this many be hard for some (you have just dedicated the past month of your life to this thing!) but you need to take some time away from it. Keep those notebooks or computer documents and files closed for some time (at least a couple of weeks) and don’t go anywhere near them. You need a break from your world and your characters.
  3. Once thoroughly rested, pull out your manuscript and read it over. Don’t edit it, you read. This is important. For this, you are merely a reader. You are not a writer or creator. By removing yourself from that role, you can view the manuscript as a whole – and probably will see it through a much more critical eye. Watch – you’ll find yourself catching mistakes or plot holes you didn’t see when you were writing and creating this masterpiece.

After this is done, the hard part begins. Here is where you have two different options, and they will entirely depend on whether you finished your novel’s plot during NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t, this is the part where you need to dig in and finish it. If you’ve skipped over filler or boring scenes, guess what? You have to write them now. If you still need your climactic ending? Look what you have in store. It’s difficult, I know – trust me, I’ve been there MANY times – but you need to do it all now before moving onto the next step. It’s important. You may never finish your novel otherwise. Take it from someone who’s had this happen to them.

If you were lucky and managed to finish the whole plot to your novel during the month of November, you get to move onto something else entirely. Get ready. It’s going to be a doozy. The first edit. Now, I’m not going to go into this topic into detail, but if you want to read more about it, I did another blog post about it in the past which you can find here.

Beyond the first edit, and the subsequential rewrites which will follow, I recommend letting a close, trusted friend or writing partner read your manuscript over. If you feel comfortable with it, maybe even give it to a few different people. A beta reader (or two) is always something you should consider when you’re moving down the stream towards publishing.They can help catch things that you might not see anymore due to the close relationship you share with both the characters and plot. Having someone read your work that hasn’t seen it before will help catch unwanted errors you’ve become unfazed by.

Following beta-readers comes another few rounds of editing. Eventually, you will come out with a polished manuscript ready for the publishing world.

Publishing (and all the different routes involved with that) is where I shall leave this particular blog post. I feel that’s a topic that needs to have a dedicated section (or at least an article) all to itself. Another day, another time.

As always, happy writing everyone, and congratulations once again to all the Wrimos out there! Win or lose, you all achieved something wonderful this past month!

Until next time.