Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Danger of Agents' Blogs Part II - My Brain is a Sponge

...and it's dripping all over my manuscript!  Have you seen that commercial for bing, the new search engine?  It's the one where the people keep spewing strings of information.  I'm having a similar problem.

I am constantly editing.  I write, then edit, then write some more...  I wish I could just write the whole thing down, and then, when the story is finished, go back and begin the editing process.  I've written on this before... my obsessive need to edit, but now I've taken it to the next level!

I made need to take a vacation from my WIP.  Not because I need distance from it, but I need to escape the thoughts that are consuming me.

 I absorbed all this information from reading the blogs, and now it's flooding my consciousness.  As I'm writing the current chapter, my brain keeps jumping back to previous parts and telling me, "You're supposed to..." or "Don't you remember what she said about..."  I think it's a form of mental illness.  Whatever it is, it's driving me crazy!  I think about it while I'm cooking and doing dishes.

Isn't this a good thing?  I mean, I've really learned a lot about the structure of a good manuscript.  That has to make me a better writer.  On the other hand, if it drives me over the edge, will I have access to my laptop in the padded room?

Is there anything in your writing process that you're extremely obsessive about?  Share with me so I don't think I'm all alone...  Hello?  Are you out there?


Susan R. Mills said...

Oh, Lily, I totally understand and have been there. I became obsessed with all the rules, and I my writing suffered from it. The only advice I have is to try and push the rules out and just write the thing. Then, go back and edit with all the rules in mind, but don't let them consume you. I've noticed lately that a lot of books break the rules. My big obsession has been trying to minimize the use of the word "was". It WAS driving me crazy. Some sentences just have to have that word. When I started reading more again, I realized that most books use the word all the time. I've given up that obsession.

Paul Greci said...

This happened to me last year when I was reading a ton of blogs and craft books. For a while I saw the flaws in everything I wrote. In the end the thing that helped me was to just focus on the voice of the mc because that is going to color the book and bend some of those rules, or guidelines or pieces of advice you've been given. You want you're book to be unique. Trust the voice.

Then, during your revisions you can focus on some of those rules. Two books that helped me in the latter stages of revision were Noah Lukeman's The first five pages, and Donald Maass's Writing the break out novel. For early structural revision try this book: Self-editing for fiction writers.
And, if need be, focus a revision on putting the voice back into your story in places you may have lost it.

This process worked for me. I now have a wonderful agent and my YA novel will be out on submission soon.

Best of luck. You can do it. And yes, I would recommend finishing a draft before you do any editing. I didn't learn that lesson until I was writing my second novel.

Lesley said...

Lily: I'm so glad you are back in the blogosphere!! I missed you!

I just finished reading Stephen King's book about writing, and one of the things he said was to just write the first draft off the top of your head. Let it flow however it flows. Then edit later. Easier said than done, I'm sure!

Elana Johnson said...

I totally obsess over many things. My latest one is word choice. Have I chosen the best word here? What about here? So now I'm going through and making all these nitty little changes that probably don't make a difference.

Obsessed? Yeah, I am.

Terri Tiffany said...

I obsess over verbs!! Are they strong enough--is there a better one? LOL
Just write it all down and obsess later!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Lily -

Sorry I've been AWOL.

The phenomenon you mentioned happened not with blogs, but writing workshops. I'd learn something and run home to apply it.

Susan :)

SquirrelQueen said...

I don't write all that often any more but I always write a piece all at once, in a stream of consciousness sort of mode. It is far more exciting and the ideas flow freely. I would then edit a dozen or more times.

Writing and editing a chapter at a time would drive me crazy because the whole story wants to get out. I get a story stuck in my head, there is one there right now, and it comes to a point where it has to get out all at once.

But then I never read any of the 'how to' books.

Gina Conroy said...

I used to obsess over editing and getting thing perfect before I moved on to a new scene, but I could never finish a story. Then some published writer gave me permission to write badly, and I did! And I finished and I revised! Now I just have to remember that on my next book!

Linda D said...

The problem with editing is that it's never-ending! You can always go back and check one more time ...
I am naturally a compulsive editor but I knew I had to do something about it when I spent a whole day editing, revising and changing a few paragraphs only to decide that my first version was the best after all!
Now, I write the first draft by hand as quickly as I can just concentrating on telling the story. I don't check spelling, if I can't think of the exact word I want I use another one - or leave a space. I just aim to get my thoughts on paper - somehow!
Next, I type it on the computer. This is much slower and I check spelling, grammar, punctuation and correct any obvious mistakes in the plot (like characters who change their names halfway through).
Then, I forget about it and work on something different for a few days.
When I go back, I print out the story or book chapter and read it out aloud. This shows up more mistakes, which I correct.
Finally, I TRY not to alter it again!
When the urge to over-edit gets too strong, pick up a published best-seller (preferably by 'a celebrity') and edit that. It will make you feel so much better about your own work!

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

It was rather interesting for me to read the blog. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything connected to them. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.