Writer-Talk Tuesday: “We try something else.”
I mentioned last week that my biggest short-term writing goal for 2012 is to get the first draft of Follow the Heart finished in January. But for the first eight days of the month, I was so sick that I had no energy or creativity for anything. Yesterday, however, I made myself sit down and write as soon as I got home from work. I had a goal of 1,500 words in two hours.
I wrote 1,904 words, putting my manuscript’s total word count at a hair under 27,000 words. To finish (with a length of somewhere between 80–90k), I’ll need to step that up a little bit—I’ll need to average between 2,500 and 3,000 words a day for the next twenty-one days to meet that word count by that deadline. Of course my goal is to be able to spend February, March, and April on revisions/edits. So if I have a complete story which isn’t quite up to that word count, I will still have met my goal of a complete first draft by the end of January—and I can add word count in the revision process.
How did I get those 1,900 words after so many months of not writing? As I said, I made myself write. When I got to a point at which I wanted to check e-mail or get on Pinterest or read blogs, I forced myself to write one more sentence. And then one more.
No, not all of those 1,900 words are great. But they are written. And tomorrow, my goal is to write 2,000 words. And Thursday . . . 2,100 words. And Friday . . . you guessed it, 2,200 words. Because I’m finally getting back into the rhythm of just writing without worrying about if it’s perfect, or if one of my characters has repeated something they might have said in a previous chapter. Because I can always fix it later.
Which leads me to the quotes I’d love to get your feedback on. Both are from Madeleine L’Engle:
- “With free will, we are able to try something new. Maybe it doesn’t work, or we make mistakes and learn from them. We try something else. That doesn’t work, either. So we try yet something else again. When I study the working processes of the great artists, I am awed at the hundreds and hundreds of sketches made before the painter begins to be ready to put anything on the canvas. It gives me fresh courage to know of the massive revision Dostoyevsky made of all of his books—the hundreds of pages that got written and thrown out before one was kept. A performer must rehearse and rehearse, making mistakes, discarding, trying again and again.”
“There are in the life-works of all artists things which don’t work. But sometimes that painting which did not work, that piece of music which did not work, was a necessary preliminary for the next thing which did. And if the artist had never been free to fail, he never would have gone on to that next work.”