Gillian Adams blogs over at Of Battles, Dragons, and Swords of Adamant where she writes about anything relating to books, fantasy, villains, and costumes. Her book Out of Darkness Rising will be published sometime in 2014. She loves interacting with other writers and readers on her blog or facebook page.
First off, I’m so glad to be back on Go Teen Writers with all of you. It’s been a long time. I took a much needed break from writing this summer—an unintentional break since I simply didn’t have time to write due to my super-crazy-but-totally-awesome summer job.
But I am thrilled to be back in the writing world and excited to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned over the past year.
Ever had a novel idea that just wouldn’t let go of you?
A story that haunted your waking moments from the second your eyes opened until you fell asleep exhausted at the end of the day? Characters that invaded your dreams and whispered their names in your ears? A magnificent world that revealed itself to you through the magic of paper and ink?
For the past two years, there has been a story locked up inside of me that I’ve been dying to tell.
But every time I tried to sit down and write it, something felt wrong. The characters were flat. My story world was vague and colorless. The plot suffered from a terrible case of predictability and—perhaps out of rebellion—refused to move in the direction I wanted it to go.
So with a sigh, I shelved the story for a while, tucked my notes away, and quieted the voices of the characters inside my head.
I knew I couldn’t write the story yet.
I wasn’t ready.
I needed more experience—not just as a writer, but life experience. I needed to grow more before I was ready to tackle a story who magnitude I was only beginning to grasp.
At first I was frustrated with myself. This was such a great story idea! Why couldn’t I get it right?
But this summer, I finally learned that it’s okay to admit that you’re not ready to tell a story yet, and some ideas take a little more time to germinate than others.
About halfway through the summer, I was struck with an idea. Literally. It practically slapped me up the side of the head. (I told you these were painful lessons!)
And just like that, the story that had been locked inside of me for so long was finally released.
The words began to flow onto the pages. Raw, deep words. Words with heart in them. Within a week, I had over twenty pages filled with brainstorming notes, outlines, character charts, and world building notes. The first chapters were well on their way to being written, and I still loved and believed in my characters and plot—a rarity for me at this point in the writing process.
Don’t judge your writing time or process against what your writing friends post on Facebook.
I used to get really discouraged when I saw the number of words or chapters or books other people were racking up. Until I realized that my writing time and process is completely different from theirs and that’s perfectly okay.
I tend to spend more time editing the first draft while I’m writing it than most people, because I know that if I don’t, I'll get more and more discouraged the farther into the story I get. And that's okay, because that is my writing process. It may be slower than yours, but it is uniquely mine.
It’s okay to admit that you’re not ready to write this story. Yet.
Some stories are harder to write than others, and there are some that you’re just not ready to tackle yet. Some stories need more time to grow, and sometimes, you need to do a little more growing before you’re ready to write them.
Should you get discouraged and think there’s something wrong with you? No, of course not. Because the story idea is still there, and when the time is right, it will resurface, and it will be better for the waiting.
Don’t be afraid to wait and allow the story to work itself out in its own time.
First off know that you shouldn’t use this as an excuse to be lazy and shelve your manuscript each and every time it gets difficult.
That said, sometimes the best thing you can do for a story is set it aside for a little bit.
When I first started having ideas for this story, my vision for the story was extremely narrow, hemmed in by the proverbial box. I tried to push through it. I tried to force the story to work. But it wasn’t until I had put it to rest for a little while, that I was able to approach it free of my stifling preconceptions.
Only then did my writing blossom.
Only then did my writing blossom.
Have you ever felt like you weren’t ready to write a particular story yet? Have you ever tried shelving a story for a bit, or do you always try to force your way through?