I’ve mentioned once or twice (or about a dozen times) on my blog that I am working on a book. See my first writing journey post here to understand where I started with it and where I am now. The book I’m currently working on is much different than the one I started out with and that was quite a shameful thing to acknowledge at first because I felt like somewhat of a failure. It felt like I just didn’t have what it takes to create a traditional novel even though so many other people were doing it. I tried really hard those few spring months to give it my all, but after about 20,000 words I realized that it wasn’t very good and that was because it wasn’t what I wanted to put out into the world. I was forcing myself into a certain idea of the kind of writer I wanted to be considered and it wasn’t doing anything for my motivation.
After taking some time in August to really think through my trajectory and even talk to my therapist about it, it finally clicked that this wasn’t the kind of book I should be creating. I had a completely different vision that I tried really hard to avoid, but it all came bubbling up to the surface and announced itself so loudly that I couldn’t ignore it anymore. So, I wanted to come over to the space where I like to share all my ideas and revelations to write out a post about how you can also find your direction with your book.
Don’t Overthink It
The last thing you should have to do when working on your book is constantly overthink if it’s what you actually want to produce. Sure, there will be a normal amount of self-questioning and possibly an emotional breakdown here and there, but it will always feel like a means to an end that will be ultimately satisfying when reached. If you’re constantly thinking that this isn’t you or it isn’t quite working, then it’s time to reevaluate your plot or even the entire concept altogether.
While writing is the hardest thing to actually do when working on a book, it should—to some extent—come naturally when you are finally in the swing of things. If it feels like you are pulling teeth just to get a paragraph down then maybe there’s something about the process or the work that isn’t right for you. Step away and let yourself be open to the possibility that maybe you need to delete everything and start from scratch. It’s not the end of the world.
Don’t Force Anything
If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Don’t sit down for hours and waste precious time on trying to force some sort of magic to happen. If it’s the right project for you the words will come flowing out of your fingertips—some good, some bad. The important thing to remember is that when you aren’t forcing yourself to fit into a certain box or certain ideal then the work you create will be much more authentic to both yourself and your audience.
Let It Fill You With Excitement
If, when you sit down to write for a bit, you are filled with dread, then maybe it’s not the right project for you. If just the thought of opening that Word doc or Scrivener file makes your stomach churn with preemptive disappointment in yourself, it’s time to toss it out and start from the beginning. A blank canvas. Your project should fill you with excitement at all times, even during the really hard ones where you are seriously questioning your ability to hit that word count you set for yourself. You should feel invigorated every time you get out a line that really evokes the experience you are trying to portray. As soon as your fingers touch the keys and you get over the initial few words, they should then be moving uncontrollably because they just can’t keep up with all the exciting ideas you have for this project.
At the end of the day, your book should be something you have fun writing. If it’s not, then you’re most likely on the wrong path.