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  • Dylan Roche

The Writer’s Struggle: Sticking with the WIP

Ask any novelist, and they’ll tell you that the hardest part about being a writer is actually getting around to writing. You have plenty of ideas and a strong understanding of the craft, and when you actually do get around to writing, your work is pretty good (at least after a few revisions) but that middle ground between planning mode and finished product can be a real bear.

I sometimes wonder whether being a professional writer makes this easier or harder. After all, I’m lucky enough to write for a living, so I understand that there really can’t be any goofing around. I have to get my work done by my deadline, and it needs to be good.

But with my creative writing endeavors, this is sometimes a little different. I’m not working on anybody’s timeline but my own. So even if I have the work ethic to get writing done every single day, and I have the mindset that I need to do high-quality work whether I’m in the mood or not, it’s still easy enough to say, “Well, I can work on my manuscript tomorrow.” After all, I have a feature for a magazine or copy for an ad campaign that I should be focused on instead.

To be honest, the fun part of writing is letting yourself be a little bit sloppy. My current manuscript, The Tide and the Stars, is something I put together at a blistering pace last year between August and December. I had a lot of fun just telling myself the story and taking delight in seeing it come together. When I started to work on revising it at the beginning of 2020, I realized that this hastily written rough draft needs a lot of work. I mean, seriously, a lot of work.

Revising your second draft is more than about reading for grammar and mechanics (save that for later). You need to identify trouble spots in the narrative. Where is the pacing completely wrong? Are the stakes high enough? Is every character’s arc believable and rewarding? Are all of the themes clearly communicated and consistent?

This is where I am in terms of revising. I have a lot of problems that I’ve identified (I’ll go into those in a separate blog post, I swear) and I find myself constantly delaying a time when I can fix those problems.

It’s one of the reasons I want to get back into blogging for the second half of the summer. I’m realizing now that we’re all probably in quarantine for the foreseeable future, and even though it’s hard to muster up inspiration in the midst of a pandemic, I want to use all of this downtime to my advantage. Blogging will be my accountability for getting my own writing projects done. Blogging will be a better way of encouraging other writers at the same time. And blogging is just a good personal writing project in and of itself. I don’t want to look back on this period and go, “Well, what did I accomplish while I was home alone 24/7 for months upon months?”

I would rather look back and go, “Wow, the pandemic sucked, but at least I finished my second novel.”

So here’s to accountability — revising your WIP can be tough, but I intend to stick with it and get a second draft cleaned up by the end of the summer (and by “the end of summer,” I’m thinking end of September, because that’s still summer, right?).

It’s an aggressive goal, but I think I can make it.

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