Sunday, February 7, 2010

I Think I Can!

Perseverance.

We all need it. If you're a writer, I think you have it. No one can ever become published without it. If aspiring authors didn't have it, they'd give up within months. And we all know it can take much longer than that to bring a manuscript to the point where it is ready to query.

When do you need to kick-start your perseverance?

New ideas come pretty easily for me. I've got plenty of them keeping me awake at night. First drafts aren't too tough either. I'm pretty eager to do that first read through as well - to look for any gaping plot holes, to see if the ideas flow well, to see how my characters develop.

I'm good with the first couple of edit rounds too. I enjoy pulling out the sword and slashing away at "just", "that" & unnecessary adverbs.

But...

When I realize the ms would be much better if I... You can fill in your own blank. With my previous ms, I realized (with a little help from my crit buddies) my story would work much better if only it started in a different place. This involved a loooong rewrite of the entire first half of the novel as it totally changed the timeline.

I needed my perseverance kick-start. It would have been so easy to toss it in. To give up. I was tempted. My little engine pushed me to rewrite, to finish, and the story is stronger. It's sitting on the virtual shelf now, waiting for me. I'm looking forward to when I can give it another read through - I know the flow needs some work. But I needed some distance to be able to "see" it again. Once I'm done with my Steampunk, I'll pull it out again.

So where does your perseverance engine kick in?

61 comments:

  1. I can so identify with you. Ideas keep me awake at night too. I have paper and pencil by the bed at all times. I love writing the first draft and I happily rework. I too enjoy removing those extra little words, watching the word count drop to a more acceptable level for the age group, but I also have a critique buddy group and once they've suggested 'Why not make your character do...' or 'I think you should change... to make it more...' and the work gets put into the pending folder. I must try to use some of your perseverance kick-start with these mss. Thanks for the prompt.

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  2. Rosalind - Isn't it crazy how little sleep we get because our brains refuse to shut down!

    Crit buddies are awesome - don't know how people do without them. They see so much more than I do.

    Hope the kick start helps!

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  3. For me it's a little different in that I struggle with the idea part. I keep paper and pen by my bed but don't really ever awaken until the morning.

    So. Once the idea comes and I'm actually writing, the little engine leaves the station and I can persevere through whatever is needed.

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  4. Marisa - I'm lucky with ideas & I wish I didn't wake up all the time!!

    Glad your engine works well once it's started :)

    Thanks for dropping by!

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  5. oh yah baby - I can identify. And I stall at the same place too. I don't mind getting the first draft done (though it can be a struggle too) and I love revising but then to take it to the next NEEDED level - I balk. Oh well - can't all be easy peasy or they wouldn't pay us the big bucks. They are going to pay us the big bucks aren't they?

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  6. Jan - Yay! I'm not alone :)

    I hope so! After all... why else would we do it! LOL :)

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  7. With years of writing now, I think it must have kicked in long ago.

    ann

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  8. Ann - that makes me smile! Can't wait to be able to say that :)

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  9. It reves up when I read a comment or email from a fan or reread a portion of one of my books that I really liked or I look at my schedule and see all the speaking engagements set in place...

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  10. Diane - Now, that's something to look forward to! Fan mail :)

    You are one busy lady!!

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  11. Grat post. - I have to admit that most stories I write I just don't have the perserverence to fine tune and ever get to a state that I could share them. Part of htat is timing and part of that is I would rather wait until I had that project that I know is worth find tuning.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Thanks Cassandra - it is tough! You're so right about timing - I think your brain needs to be at the same stage as your writing for it to work! :)

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  13. My perserverence engine is in overdrive right now. I've tuned it, fed it oil, even considered a complete overhaul. But there's no quit in it. Maybe a lack of talent, but no quit!

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  14. DL - Love it! And I'm sure there's plenty of talent -- it's just hidden underneath the hard working engine :)

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  15. Oh, girl, I am with you. Last week, I was way down at the bottom of the hill and not even looking up. This weekend, I'm chugging back up the hill, totally revising and reworking a huge chunk of my WIP. I'm sick to death of this WIP but I've gotta keep on keeping on!

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  16. I'm poking and prodding my muse with a perseverence stick right now! Getting back to my WIP after NaNo has been slow going, but I'm feeling more inspired by the project this week then since the holidays. I think I can...I think I can....

    Good luck to you, too!!!!

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  17. Mary - Yup! Gotta keep going. Although sometimes a bit of distance is good too. I'm hoping for fresh eyes on my waiting ms. I think it'll be just what it needs. :)

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  18. Nicole - great image! Hope it's working :)

    I got completely and totally sidetracked by NaNo. I'm finishing it before I head back.

    I think I can... :) Good luck!

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  19. I totally agree with you on putting distance between yourself and the work. When you go back to it after a long break, it's like reading a new book written by someone else - almost.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  20. Helen - yes distance is really important for me. Hopefully I don't think it's a terrible book written by someone else - one that I want to pitch out!

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  21. OMG! The voices in my head keep me up too! Too many ideas, so little time. I'm so hard on myself most of the time when I'm writing that I give up innumerable amounts of times. It's not good enough, it's not going anywhere, I suck...are the types of thoughts that take over my brain. Sometimes I have to take a break from the writing. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right??

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  22. Tiffany - yay! I'm not alone on this one either :)

    I'm not sure if absence works or not, the voices don't leave me alone long enough!

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  23. I used to think my perseverance engine was stuck at the "finishing the first draft" stage, but then I discovered the trick of saying "I'll only write for 20 minutes" and I didn't actually need any perseverance. Now I'm discovering I need that perseverance engine to jumpstart itself when the ms has become derailed. I have scads to rewrite now, and I am at the "very tempted to give in stage". My husband suggested I start working on something else, but despite the temptation, I DO want to finish this one.

    Sigh. Maybe tomorrow I'll sit down and just start in on it. I have this funny feeling it's that sitting down to do it that will take me out of this space I find myself in!

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  24. Belle - I like the 20 minutes idea! That's about all I can usually get anyway :)

    Facing it isn't easy when you know there's a big rewrite. In my last ms I avoided it for a couple of weeks! This time I did a reread and it helped me jump start again.

    Good luck! Hopefully it all clicks in for you.

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  25. You're right every writer needs it. Perservance is a daily struggle- I see the mountains fo work looming ahead. I try and predict when I can be ready for the next phase, when really I have no clue!

    I try and deal with small goals, and pray- a lot!

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  26. Tamika - at least we have our little train to push up those mountains!

    I like your strategies - they ought to work very well! Keep on working!

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  27. My perseverance engine kicks in whenever I'm staring blankly at the screen and think, Come on just one more paragraph.
    Then I think it will need to shift down a gear once I finish the first draft!

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  28. SF - I agree - asking for a little often gets you more in the long run! And shifting down is a very good idea for that first draft attack :)

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  29. I've ideas in abundance. Love the excitement of the first draft and groan over the read through. By the time I'm at that point, I have to put the story aside until I can read it with fresh eyes. Which is where I would start another first draft.

    The idea is to always have something in forward motion. It keeps you writing and hones your skills. (Hugs)Indigo

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  30. Indigo - It's tough! If I set one wip to the side and then start a new 1st draft, I have such trouble getting back to the 1st one unless the other is finished :) But, you're right - I think it just takes more practice!

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  31. For me, it definitely pays to have a break from time to time. When I go back I look at my novel with an entirely different perspective.

    My middle name is also perseverance :)

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  32. Wendy - that's what I'm hoping for! I was at the point where I'm pretty sure I could recite the ms word for word in many sections. Definitely needed a break & fresh eyes :)

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  33. Great post! The hardest edits, IMHO, are the big ones that require us to unweave what we managed to piece together so well. Yet we do it. Manuscripts have to be fabulous to be taken on, especially these days. It's a good thing, really. Good manuscripts turn into good books.

    I love your Little Engine That Could attitude!

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  34. I seem to get so many ideas in the state where I'm only partially asleep. Needless to say, I don't get much restful sleep. ;) I need that kick in the pants to get moving on my WIP. I've been side-lined for a little while and I can't let it go too long. Great post!

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  35. It's daunting to face a huge revision. I have a little ritual I go through where I give up for about 30 seconds, feel all sad and gloomy, then dig in. Defeat is just a challenge waiting to happen. My perseverance engine has been pretty active during the query process as well. :)

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  36. Thanks Dawn!

    I love your phrasing - unweaving is certainly not easy!

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  37. Lisa - I completely agree - writers must be some of the worst rested people in the world!

    Glad I could help you get re-motivated :)

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  38. VR - I love your ritual! It's a great idea :)

    Perseverance engines are vital in the querying process for sure!

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  39. Yes. I had to cut 18,000 words in the final revision of my manuscript... and rewrite the whole ending. I have never worked so hard in my life, but it was totally worth it!

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  40. I find that getting into a routine helps. After some time has passed between major edits (the distancing) I go to work on my manuscript at about the same time everyday. I think that fools my brain into being ready to write. As for chugging forward, I like to keep my eye on the prize and think about sweet, sweet publication. ^_^

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  41. Oh my, it feels like I'm constantly calling on my powers of perseverance. It's pretty much par for the course when you have a novel to write, but moreso when you have other obligations calling you. But yes, those major overhaul edits? Oh bugger, they hurt! Keep at it, lady! It'll get done.

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  42. After about 5 years with the MS in the closet and three glasses of Cab.

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  43. Great post!

    I'm new to writing anything of length (ms) but did do NaNoWriMo this past year. The "kick start" there was just word count - pushing through even though my hand was aching at one point.

    As for that ms, I've recently revisited comments from my writing group about my Ch. 1. They've reminded me that it's an interesting story. It's their input that spurs me on to the next set of edits.

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  44. Anne - Wow - that's a lot of cuts! I'm glad you didn't give up - sounds like your stories even better because of your work!

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  45. I'm a stubborn kinda guy. Regardless of the trials and tribultaion that come my way, I just keep plodding along whether its a few steps during a trecherous sotrm and a few miles on a beautiful summer day. Coffee helps too.

    Stephen Tremp

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  46. Barbara Ann - sweet publication indeed! Keeping the prize in mind keeps the engine humming :)

    I like the idea of writing at the same time each day. Routines work well.

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  47. Carol - thanks - I think it will too, but it's just going to take the time it takes!

    I love, love, love my day job, but I'd also like more time for my writing!

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  48. Lisa - that totally cracked me up! I guess as long as the perseverance engine has kicked in, the rest doesn't matter :)

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  49. Great post. I've needed some perseverance recently...

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  50. Windshield Thinking - Love your name :)

    My current ms got started in NaNo as well. it's a great push to get an idea on paper.

    Crit buddies are the best! They can be so much help at all points of the process.

    Thanks for dropping by!

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  51. Stephen - love it! Perseverance is a wonderful trait - I prefer it by that name rather than stubbornness :)

    Tea gets me through - never did develop a taste for coffee!

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  52. Carolyn - thank you! I hope your perseverance engine kicked in for you :)

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  53. This is exactly how I've been feeling for a couple of weeks. Like maybe I should just quit with this rewrite already. Take a break. But no, just when I think I can I have buddies who help me climb another step. Or I take a break. Then I feel better.

    So just keep climbing!

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  54. Elana - will do!!

    I think it's the buddies who are the fuel in the perseverance engine. You're right - they just won't let us quit!

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  55. Yes you can!
    I'm sure of it and I'm rooting for you.
    Warm regards,
    Simone

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  56. Thanks Simone!! Your support means a lot :)

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  57. Clever girl! Very, very smart to put that manuscript away for some perspective. Been there done that, my friend.

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  58. Thanks Lisa & Laura! I'm hoping it's the right thing to do. I'm looking forward to seeing it again. :)

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  59. My stubborness--I mean, perseverence is always on auto pilot. Otherwise, I'd never finish a novel. LOL!

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  60. My perseverance kicks in when after fine tuning a piece, be it a manuscript or a smaller essay, I see it still needs more work. My thoughts at that time are something along the line, well, what would you rather do? Write? Or something else? Perseverance kicks right in as I get back to the keyboard!

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  61. Sorry - my week has been long and wacky & I missed a couple of posts!

    Jennifer - I love that your perseverance is always on! Perfect for a writer :)

    Joanne - That's definitely a good time for perseverance! It would be so much easier to just let it be sometimes, but it wouldn't be better!

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