This is a text exchange I had recently with a good friend and fellow writer who is determined to get her debut novel out to agents this March.
We both have novels we’ve been working on for a while. A long while. Every year we say this is the year. But so far, year after year hasn’t been.
For me, the process of writing this first novel has been an education in and of itself. I’ve lost count of the number of drafts, but this is at least the fifth. I have quite literally deleted thousands of pages. It is a completely different story than it was when I started and I am a much better writer.
So when is it done?
I don’t know. When well-meaning friends and family ask, I usually reply that I read a lot, and I know a good book from a bad one. My book will be done when I read it and think it qualifies as a good book. To put something out into the world before I’m happy with it would just be a mistake. But it won’t ever get there if I don’t put the effort into finishing it.
Currently, my novel is sitting in a drawer, which I actually consider an important part of the process. I need some distance from it. While I’m accumulating this distance, I am working on a second novel. But I think I would be ready to go back to the first novel in a few weeks.
For some reason my friend has decided that March 2017 is the month to shoot for. And why not?
If I take my draft out of the drawer on September 1, and finish a draft by the end of November, I could hand it off to a few trusted readers in December. That would allow me to get feedback in January, make revisions through February, and start sending it out to agents this March.
It’s not a bad plan. I really would like to finish that baby and get it out into the world. Emotionally, I toggle back and forth from feeling pretty good about it, though I know it needs work, and feeling like “hey, it was a good exercise, and nobody ever needs to see it.”
So I guess I need to get over the doubts and just get back to writing. Now, to address the text message from my friend – what kind of pushing do I want?
My husband suggested I write a donation check to the NRA (in some painful amount like $300) and give it my writing buddy. Then, if I don’t hit my deadline, she is allowed to drop it in the mail. That would be motivating, for sure.
Do any of my writer friends out there have methods of motivating themselves that have proven particularly effective?