Weekly Recap – January 10th, 2014

My first Weekly Recap of the New Year. I don’t have much to share that I haven’t already, and you guys know the usual tune — work, writing, work, gaming, writing, sleep. I’ll hopefully have some exciting news around the end of this month/beginning of next, but other than that, all is quiet on the Western front.

I’ll be spending my weekend trying to finish the new scene outline for Wolf’s Tail. It’s certainly coming to me a lot easier this time, but I guess that’s bound to happen once one becomes so intertwined in a universe. I will say, I never thought throwing away 40,000 words would get me excited, but I feel like it was a breakthrough. I can now really see what this story was supposed to be. It now has characters I kinda care about, and with a little elbow grease, I’m hoping I’ll really care about.

In times like these, it gives me comfort to read about those that worked tirelessly to create a publishable novel. Many of you have done so, many of you are in similar shoes as me, and many of you are slogging through where I once was. I’m not fit to give any advice to the first two, but for the last, I want to say:

“Keep on keeping on.”

You’ll see noticeable improvements if you just stick with it and don’t give up. I know that you wrestle with so many things when putting a story together and it can become overwhelming. You’re worried about plots, characters, prose, authenticity, dialogue, exposition…enough to make anyone’s head melt from an overheated brain.

So I say to you, what has worked for me:

“Focus on the big picture.”

Don’t worry about the plot holes. Don’t worry about those inconsistent character traits. Hell, don’t worry if your character was Peter in the first half of the book and became Donna in the second. One of the most important things I’ve ever done is finish a novel. It gave me something to work with, it gave me focus, and probably above all, it gave me confidence that I could do it all over again and make it even better.

Don’t waste another day.

Have a great weekend everyone!

-Phillip

0 thoughts on “Weekly Recap – January 10th, 2014

  1. Excellent advice. As soon as a stopped editing while writing (I still do a little, though) my process freed up. You seem very excited – there is nothing better than getting revved up for a new project and with new creative energy. 🙂

    1. That’s also great advice. I think a writer needs to know their limits as far as editing while writing, but I think a new writer is best served by assuming they don’t know their limits yet and so they’re better off completely shutting off the editor. I think writing a lot not only improves your skill, but you also learn more about what process works best for you.

  2. Great advice! So glad to hear you’re making such wonderful progress. Your point about finishing the book is key. Doesn’t matter how great our characters or sentences are, if a book isn’t finished, it isn’t finished. Weave it first in all its faults, then go back and tidy it up later. Took me a while to get that, but once I did, my productivity soared.

    1. Thanks Carrie. 🙂 I was in the same boat and it’s one of those pieces of advice that I saw everywhere, but took way too long to heed it. Not that it’s any sort of magical pixie dust that solves the problem instantly, because it is a constant struggle and process, but it puts us on the right foot.

  3. “Hell, don’t worry if your character was Peter in the first half of the book and became Donna in the second.” I laughed out loud when I read this, Phillip, then I wondered if you somehow had access to my novel. 🙂 This is great advice as I hunker down this weekend…Thanks!

    1. Glad I could make you laugh Jill. That’s from a real situation I found myself in, btw. 🙂

      Good luck on your efforts this weekend!!

  4. Focusing on the Big Picture is key, I think. It’s easy to get caught up in the details — parts of speech, dialogue tags, etc. Getting it done is is just the beginning, something to work with, as you said above. Then the fun of tearing it apart and rewriting can start. I hope this time next year I can say what you can, Phillip – that I’ve written a complete manuscript. Maybe that should be a goal for this year…
    Enjoy your weekend too!

    1. So right Gwen! And look… If I can complete a manuscript, you can definitely do it. I just had to ask myself if I really wanted to be a writer. The answer was yes and then I knew it would only be true if I wrote. If there’s anything at all that I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to ask!

      1. You’re so kind, Phillip, thank you for your offer and encouragement.

        I’d give anything to be in sunny CA right now you lucky dog! Winter’s just begun and already I’m sick of it!

  5. Hardest thing I’ve found since I’ve started writing is just carrying on. I constantly want to stop and tweak or rewrite or put my head in my hands at the quality of what I’ve just written. Whilst I do do a quick review of my previous days writing its a quick review (I time box it to 10 minutes) and if I see something more fundamental I make a note about it. I’ve found that really helps as I can more easily let it go because I no linger need to remember it and I’ve kind of scratched my editing itch.

    I’m probably about 6-9 months behind you in terms of my own situation, so its great to hear your advice.

    1. Taking notes is the perfect thing to do. You can always come back to those. I found spending time prettying up prose that you may end up throwing away (like, *cough cough* 40,000 words of prose *cough cough*) is in fact, a waste of valuable writing time.

      Best of luck with your project! If there’s anything I can do to help, don’t hesitate to ask. 🙂

  6. I think this should be called ” The Phillip McCollum Cool Bean Advice That Works,” post. It does work.

    1. Thanks for the reassurance John. Hearing that it works for a published author gives my tiny voice some credence. 🙂

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