Sunday, April 28, 2013

Just Keep Writing

Hello all! This is my first post on YA Stands and I'm so pumped to be here! To tell you about myself briefly, the pitch that I sent in to YA Stands describing myself was as follows:

Twenty-seven-year-old cat-a-holic who loves writing for fun, laughs, and tears, and can't shut up about the latest great book she read.

If that doesn't tell you enough about me, I can also say that I'm a newbie writer. I have had many ideas over the years for novels and have started plenty of them, but, alas, I've yet to finish one. Last year was the year I realized you have to make a real effort if you want your dreams to come true, so I threw myself into the writing community and haven't looked back since. I'm hoping on every star that my current WIP is the one I finally complete!

So with that said, I want to let you all in on a little writing struggle I've been going through.This is for all the newbies out there who are struggling to reach that "The End". It doesn't even have to be the final draft "the end," I just need to get to an end PERIOD.

As far as I can tell, I'm a pantser when it comes to writing novels. If you aren't familiar with that term, it just means that I don't really write out an outline. Usually I get an idea, think up the ending, and then start writing. I learn and grow with the characters as I write, and they pretty much tell me how the story is going to go.

But what do you do when they stop talking to you? Or when they are all talking at once and you aren't sure which way to go?

It also doesn't help that I write totally out of order, as in, if I think up a scene that will happen five chapters ahead, I write it anyway.

So now here I sit with roughly 43,000 words with scenes all out of order and not really sure how my characters get from where the are now to the ending. Well, I have an idea, but those ideas are all strewn about in my head. I can see all these other scenes and how things can build up, but I'm not sure of the order or if all the scenes are needed.

Want a tip if you are in the same boat?

Just keep writing.

You know, like Dory from Finding Nemo? Just keep swimming? Yes, just keep writing.

Don't think about it so hard. This is supposed to be fun. No one has to read the crap you may or may not put out, you can edit it out later. Just don't stop the writing.

That is the problem I had. I stopped the writing. I sat at my computer and stared at an outline for hours, trying to force myself into a writing style that just doesn't work for me. I can't see the plot in an outline form. I have to write more of the characters and then it reveals itself. It's really kind of scary sometimes when it happens. I will be writing along in a scene, not thinking about anything more than what is happening right here and right now in my story and then BAM! I will make a connection for something really meaningful later on for the plot and I have to scribble it down right away.

If you don't have any scene ideas, just come up with a scenario to put your main characters in and see how they would react. Have a burning house with a baby in it and set your main characters in front of the house. What do they do? How do they react? You can learn a lot about them by placing them in tough situations and watching what they would do. Learning more about what makes your characters tick will ultimately lead you to how they will push the plot forward.

Also, stop being a perfectionist. I know I am and it holds me back a lot. I have it in my head that every scene needs to be perfect from the start. It doesn't. That's why the editing phase is so important. You can put minor clues and symbolism and all that jazz in after you have a basic story plot. I know it's tough, trust me. But you will never finish the first draft if you insist that it be perfect from the start. 

DUH! Get to writing!!

Hope you all enjoy my posts and feel free to leave in the comments anything you'd like to learn more about from a newbie writer like me!


  1. Just keep writing! Couldn't agree more.

  2. Thanks Vikki! i know you are patiently waiting for my finished draft. But I'm writing, I swear!

  3. I'm a "pantser" myself. I'm also nearly twice your age, and for the longest time I put off writing my YA novel (because I was too busy, because it wasn't my "real job," because I was afraid it wouldn't be any good, because I had to make it perfect; there are always becauses). But finally, I wrote it, and now it's on its way to publication. So I wanted to reiterate what you say: just keep writing! You never know where it'll take you.

    1. Exactly right! Every new scene I write, I find connections to make throughout the book. I have been considering some changes for some scenes I wrote before, but it's an evolution and I'm not letting myself get bogged down in trying to make all those changes NOW. Just have to finish the story first and go from there! Thanks for the comment!

  4. I couldn't agree more - I only end up stuck if I let myself stop writing and get caught up in perfectionism. It's best not to worry about the little details on the first draft - for me, the priority is always getting the story itself down! Great post! :)

    1. Exactly! If I think about it too much, I just stare for hours at my computer screen. Starting is the hardest part ...but once you do, the magic happens!

  5. That sounds a lot like how I wrote my first novel (which I just finished). Eventually, I got to that same point where I felt my characters quit talking to me, and I couldn't write. At that point, I'd met a writing friend who is an EXCELLENT plotter. She asked me just the right questions about the story that I realized flying by the seat of my pants was wasting my time because I was writing a ton of scenes that weren't even going to go in my book (well, maybe that's not a waste because I was still getting to know my characters). Anyway, I sat down and plotted the rest of my novel--which was about 1/3 of the book. Writing that last 1/3 of the book with an outline in place was SO effective and so fast that I have not looked back. I've already outlined two other projects I'll be working on as soon as I finish revising. For me (I didn't think I could ever be a plotter), outlining is much more time efficient and I haven't gone back to my old ways. I realize that's not for everyone, though.
    Also, if I ever get 'stuck' in regards to my characters not talking to me, I find it helpful to interview them about their motivations, feelings whatever in the stuck scene and that jump starts the writing process again.

    1. I might try a more "plotting" strategy for my next book. I just see this one as a learning experience. The few times I've tried to plot it, I end up writing something totally different anyways! But having a basic outline would probably help me to at least start moving in some direction if I'm totally stuck. Thanks for your input!