Monday, February 6, 2012

The Definition of Insanity

So, last week I set a goal for myself.  I wanted to finish three chapters of rewrites/new chapters.  I didn't have as much free time as I though I would, and I found myself procrastinating (as I always do).  Still, I was able to tell myself that I would be able to get it done on Sunday.  It was only three chapters, after all.  It would have been better to get some of it done before hand, but I have written that much in a single day before, so I didn't foresee myself having a problem doing it.

I don't know if any of you know this, but one definition of insanity is: Doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.  I've always joked that, if this is true, then working in retail must be insane.

Yesterday I sat down all ready to do my edits.  I opened the document and even started writing.  I was going to get this chapter done in record time and move onto the next, because I was determined to finish the goal I set for myself.  It was definitely going to happen.

I managed to make it to about five paragraphs in before I started having trouble.  The words weren't flowing, and it was quickly becoming apparent that this chapter wasn't any better than the one I had just decided to rewrite.  In fact, I was leaning toward it actually being worse, which definitely isn't a good thing when the whole point of rewriting is to make it better.

So I scrapped those five chapters, thinking that I could do better.

Again  I managed to make it to about five paragraphs in, and again it just wasn't working, no matter what I did.  The description sucked.  The dialogue was utter crap, and don't even get me started on the voice.  Nothing was working!

But I was determined.  Those three chapters were in my sight, and I really wanted to get it all done.  No, not wanted, I was going to get them done.

Once more I got started on the chapter, throwing what I had already written away and struggling through those paragraphs, trying to make them what I wanted them to be.  Trying to force out the words that just weren't coming as easily as they should be.

It was around this time that I ended up getting some not so great news and was starting to feel annoyed and frustrated.  I can barely get anything done when I'm in a good mood, but the way I was feeling, there was no way that editing was going to be finished.

It took a while, but I managed to get myself out of the bad mood and willing to look at the chapter without fear of ruining it completely, and that was when it hit me.  There was a reason the chapter wasn't working.  One that I might not have noticed if I hadn't taken that mental step back and let myself look at it with fresh eyes.

I was trying to write it from the wrong character's POV.  I had originally chosen one of the characters, and when it came to rewriting, I thought I might as well stick with her.  After all, I must have had a reason for why I originally chose her, right?  I couldn't quite remember what that was, but I assumed that I hadn't simply picked a name out of a hat.

At this point, I still don't remember what made me chose her to begin with, but I do know what fixed the problem that I was having with the chapter.  I changed the POV.

It was that simple.  All of a sudden everything was working better.  The words were flowing (not as well as when I write a first draft, but well enough).  I didn't feel like everything that I was writing was worse than the first time around.  In fact, I was pretty sure that it was better.  Much better.

I only managed to get about 1000 words written, but as those words were all written some time after ten, I'm actually alright with that number.  Happy with them, even.  And excited that I no longer feel so bloody stuck on a chapter that I'm never going to finish.

Now, of course, I just have to finish the chapter, and move onto the next.  Maybe even remind myself that I need to take a step back when I'm doing rewrites.  I can't be as close to the action as I can be when I'm writing a first draft.  I have to look at the writing with a much more impartial eye.  I can't allow my feelings for the characters, or what I have originally written, to blind me to the flaws in my writing.

I probably won't finish this chapter tonight, and I don't know how much time I'll have to edit this week, but I'm going to set the same goal I set for myself last week.  To finish the next three chapters.  A week late, but better than it never getting done, right?

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