bad habits

Posted on Posted in journal

I've been down on myself lately, disappointed with my (lack of) progress with the novel revisions. Sure, I've been indulging in bad habits of procrastinating and excuse-making, to some degree. But I have also been working, and diligently. Just not as fast as I hoped or wanted. Most of my disappointment stems from that worst of all habits: unrealistic expectations.

For some reason, I keep expecting this to be a simple revision. (Ha! Is a revision ever simple?) But I wrote this novel pre-Clarion, and even by my standards at the time it was rough as guts, because I was hurrying to finish before the boot-camp. By my standards now, it's not even as good as "rough as guts". There's no viable structure in place to hold it together, there's subplots missing and threads dangling, there's great chunks missing with only a snippet to myself in the margin as to what I intended. What I'm doing is not a revision, it's essentially a rewrite from scratch. Of course that's going to take longer, and turning my frustration into an emotional whipping-rod is really not going to help with the speed issue.

Bad writer. No biscuit for me.

So, a new mantra. It's okay for this to take a little longer than I expected. It's okay to leave mauled manuscript pages with a slew of confusing and often contradictory notes in my wake. (Really.) This is a novel I like, it's worth spending the time to make it good.

10 thoughts on “bad habits

  1. Here's something to make you feel better – you're working on your novel. As in, you're working on it AT ALL. Mine hasn't been touched for some months, and isn't likely to be for some time either. Not until I figure out this whole full time thing. (Which I may never.)

  2. Thanks. I need to keep reminding myself that any progress is a win, really. It's all about perspective. And good luck with the full-time thing: with full-time and a commute, it can be next to impossible to find a writing routine that works.

  3. Ooooo, tell me about it. I had a routine going and then BAM. New work schedule, weird hours, writing schedule went to heck. And now ANOTHER new routine about to hit. Grrrr…and two short stories clamoring for attention, and the *cough cough* novel notes languishing now for months, and and and…

    yes. Tessa is right. At least you're working on your novel. Geez. Now *I* feel bad. Evil damselfly!

    Ahem. Yes. Anyway. The bit about little snippets to yourself on the margins had me laughing — I do that all the time, a hastily scrabbled note in the margin. Sometimes they even make sense. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, they're even legible. Sometimes, though, they turn out to singularly unhelpful when picked up weeks or months later, such as the time I wrote in the margin "put that really interesting scene here." To this day I still have no idea what "really interesting scene" was being referred to, and I fear that the fact that I don't remember is either indicative of early-onset Alzheimer's, or a testament to the fact that the "really interesting scene" wasn't, in fact, very interesting.

  4. I'm working on it, but it's honestly going backwards. Backwards! Tis the horriblest feeling ever. The thing with my margin notes is I'm quite conscientious about making them comprehensive, so that I can understand them later. Has yet to work. (Although I've not quite stooped to "insert really interesting scene here" — I think I just take a lot longer to say the same thing, though!)

  5. I actually remembered a Greg Classic a bit ago — another note that said, and I quote, "ooooo — that one guy should be in this scene"

    *facepalm* But I'm getting better, trying to take more time on such things. Would hate to have to invent time travel just so I can go back in time to kick the stuffing out of myself.

  6. Sometimes the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Sometimes the story has to break down to a certain degree so that you let go of the thing that you were obsessing about putting into it, that isn't going to work; so that you free yourself up to go on with it.

    Sometimes you have to put away the rod and spoil yourself. Keep only the really cool bits that you know work (or you know WILL work, eventually) and work out some enjoyable-to-you way to link them. Simplify, simplify. Take the chore-ishness out of the enterprise; try and turn it into the funnest thing you've ever done, with the most you've ever dared vomit up of yourself there on the page (OK, I'll allow some symbolic disguising).

    And no effort is wasted, even if the entire thing disintegrates completely. You won't NOT learn something; you won't NOT progress. Says she, surrounded by the broken shards of not-failed-just-put-aside novels!

  7. This is really good advice, Margo. Thanks. Perspective is the key to it all, and I do get hung up on wanting what I'm working on not to be a wasted effort. Of course, I think my real bugbear is impatience. Not so deep inside, I'm a little like Veruca Salt: I want it now! 😉

  8. I hear ya. I'm having the same issues with revisions on my previous novel. I work for hours and hours and hours, but I still feel like it's the slowest revision evah.

    I like what Margo says. *takes advice* And I think you're exactly right; keeping a positive attitude and knowing it isn't wasted time is extremely helpful.

  9. keeping a positive attitude and knowing it isn't wasted time is extremely helpful.

    Very helpful, and I really need to work harder at maintaining it. It's the first thing that slips — or actually, it's the first sign that other things have slipped out of my control. When I start to get a low attitude it usually means my work routines and schedules have slipped out of whack and I'm feeling like I'm not in control of my own progress. That's when the positive attitude evaporates. H'm. I really need to pay attention to this, and catch the slipping routines before they get to such a bruising point!

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