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Making Progress, and Not Just on the Novel

standard February 26, 2009 4 responses

Two days ago I sat down and worked on my novel for an hour. Then I freaked out and gave into the massive guilt trip that engulfed me.

Today I didn’t wait until the end of the day and the completion of my to do list to start writing. The story had been niggling me all night and I couldn’t wait to let my ideas play on the page. I opened the document and told myself I’d write for an hour and “work” after.

Two hours later I had to rip myself from the page so I could get to circle time at C’s preschool on time. I couldn’t stop beaming.

Sure, most of what I wrote was terrible. I knew that as I was writing. I just kept thinking “First drafts are supposed to suck. First drafts are supposed to suck” and pushing through. I know I’ll have to go back and cut a ton of it. I know what’s going to need to be beefed up or toned down. But I also know that lots of what I wrote was good, that the characters that I introduced are just right, and I have a hunch that the story will work.

All of that is exciting, but what’s truly thrilling is that I didn’t feel guilty after shutting down the computer. I just felt happy. That’s gotta be good, right?

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4 responses

  • Anonymous

    Yes, Jessica, not feeling guilty is VERY good!

    Now, when you are up to it, try writing WITHOUT a computer or laptop — just you, a legal pad and silence. Try it for a week. You may find that the “typed” word can also create subtle limitations and define boundaries that an open sheet of paper doesn’t. The scribbles, doodles, diagrams — this IS how the mind and ideas talk to you, without the limitation of being compelled to convert all thought into the structured, rigid format of a sterile word-processed paragraph.

    I can’t wait to read your novel! Cheering you on! 🙂


  • Yay! I love that “zone” where writing just happens. Good for you for turning off that inner critic and just writing, writing, writing. You can get rid of the crap later. Right now you just need to get the story out. Way to go!

  • Jessica that is fantastic! It is hard to not feel guilty for having your own dreams, especially as a mom. We tend to feel like we owe our children every second of our time, but as they grow they will definitely gain more independence and unless we have something else in our lives that brings us joy it’s a rough transition back to that place when you had more time for you dreams. I have a friend whose family tried to discourage her from writing. They were actually using guilt about her kids to discourage her. They told her it wasn’t fair to her to kids for her to take time out of her life to follow her dream of writing. That struck me. What is the difference between taking time away from her kids to work for jobs she wasn’t happy doing? And even more, as mothers we encourage our kids to dream and teach them that anything is possible, but if we don’t set an example of that ourselves, how can we expect them to put their all into their dreams when they’re ready to begin pursuing them? I think it’s awesome that you’re making more time for your writing. And I bet that first draft isn’t even as bad as you think it is. The bare bones of an idea may feel like they need some skin, but it’s easier to add muscle and flesh to an entire skeleton than it is to build a body bone by bone. (wow, I need to stop waxing philosophical the minute I roll out of bed!)

  • You know you’re doing the right thing when you don’t feel guilty. That’s really fabulous. Good for you.

    I have another book recommendation that you might find helpful. It’s called Big Purple Mommy by Coleen Hubbard and it’s all about creativity and being a mom (and not feeling guilty).

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