I hit a bit of a standstill the past few weeks with my novel, and now it's time to get back into the swing of things. I lost a lot of motivation with the word target I set myself and found that it was hindering my ability to be creative while also worrying about such a technical aspect that shouldn't matter in the first draft. This initial version should just be all about getting my ideas out and creating characters that are interesting and tangible. So, for the next little while I'm just going to be focusing on simply writing.
While I work on my novel I also participate in other writing projects on the side - mostly my blog, but also personal essays and short stories. I've found that taking a break from such a big project to work on something different and smaller can get the creative juices flowing again. Now, it's easy to say that I'm going to get back on track with my novel, but it's harder to actually do after a bit of a break. Here's how I'm going to immerse myself in it once again:
1) Read everything that I've written so far
I wasn't letting myself read the few chapters I'd written, thinking that I would get stuck trying to edit them, but I found that without reading them over I kind of forgot who the characters were. Reading the chapters as you go reminds you of the overall themes of the story as well as the characters that you initially fell in love with.
2) Forget about the numbers
For the next little while I'm just going to focus on the story rather than everything that goes into the final product of the novel. When I start thinking about the final steps of the process I lose track of the actual writing part when it's way too early to even be concerned with publishing, cover art, word count etc.
3) Set aside time to write
Now that it's gotten really hot in Toronto, the last thing I want to do is sit inside all day long. Needless to say, that hasn't been great for my novel and the motivation to get chapters done. Going forward, I want to designate at least an hour a day to working on it, even if that means sitting outside in the backyard or taking my laptop around with me everywhere I go, whether that's downtown for coffee or to an east end park.
4) Stop being afraid of failure
I've noticed that I had been putting so much pressure on myself to make the first draft perfect, when in reality, I know that it's going to need a lot of revision when I'm actually finished. And that's OKAY. It's okay to need polishing and not being perfect the first time around. I have to keep reminding myself that no one writes a great novel right away - it takes time, practice, and growth to recognize what makes a story truly click for readers.