Completing my novel--the hard part....
Completing Your Novel... Finishing What You Sta....
I've been working on my first novel since my college years (at least five years ago!), and for me, the challenge revolves around scheduling and motivation.
Here's a scenario for you:
I wake up at 6:15 AM and have about 45 minutes to get ready for work (until recently, I was a substitute teacher, so this time included finding a job for the day at a school who needed a sub). If I get ready fast enough, I have ten-fifteen minutes to write while I eat breakfast. Most of the time, I spent this time trying to remember where I left off last time, or trying to type up what I wrote last night while at work.
Then I hop in the car and scoot to my job. I have to be there by 7:30 and because of where I live and the fact that I never know where exactly I'll be, I give myself about half an hour to make sure I am never late. Getting ready to teach a new class full of kids I don't know is hard work! Teaching them is a whole 'nother round of hard work! If I'm lucky, I might get a couple hours during the day when I don't have kids in the room, and I can write. If I'm not lucky, I get the half hour when I eat lunch and that's it.
Then, after a fun-filled day of class clowns pushing my buttons, I get an hour or so of free time and then I'm off to work again (I work closing shifts at Wal-mart almost every week day.) In order to get as much writing time as possible, I will stay at the school I ended up teaching at that day and write while I eat my supper before heading over to Wally World. That means that every day, I take lunch and dinner with me, and a change of clothes for my second job.... Plus all my writing stuff (flash drive, note book, how-to books).
If I'm lucky, I get Thursday and Friday night off and all day Saturday off (I work a full shift at Wally World on Sunday). So when my evening off rolls around, I spend time with my husband and my friends and try to get some writing done. On Saturday, I'm usually so tired and starved for a day off that I can't make myself do anything except maybe read (reading is way easier than writing!). I also have to get food ready for the upcoming week, so I spend a lot of my Saturday cooking.
So imagine your life with my hectic schedule. Maybe then you would say that it is understandable for me to still be working on my novel even though it's been four years in the making. (At least when I was in college, I only had classes and one job, instead of the two jobs that I have now. I can't wait for next school year, when all I have to do is teach my classroom full of kids and then plan for the next day and go home to my computer and write all afternoon and evening! I'm going to finish my novel this year, I just know it!)
Now, even if I had a completely free schedule where I got paid to write (that is so hard to imagine, but I will give it a try) I would still have problems finishing my current work in progress. The next biggest issue to attack would be my detrimental writing tendencies.
(I'm curious to know if any of you other writers might do any of these...)
Let's start with the problem I have with my current novel. I let it get out of hand. I started working on it when I got this super fun idea, and I let my characters take me on a wild fun ride. People who read my work in progress encouraged me by commenting that they loved my characters or they wanted to know how the hero would ever manage to reach his goal, etc., so I kept on going, convinced that my characters would bring me to the ending that I had in mind. But because I think writing without creativity is extremely wrong (a downright sin sometimes), I would always indulge myself and let my characters go where they wanted to go. I would also change my idea of where I was heading if I came up with a more creative idea. Needless to say, my book ended up taking too many wrong turns. Rewriting is my only option now, but at least I know exactly where I'm going this time, and I don't have to start over from scratch. :)
Another writing habit of mine, which I'm convinced is going to make it hard to finish my book even with only one job, is my addiction to revising and rereading what I write. I'll admit it, I am my own biggest fan, and I entertain myself with my writing more than I've ever entertained anyone else. I spend whole days off just rereading my book, sometimes from beginning to middle (It's too long to finish it all in one day!). While I read, I make little changes, nothing major enough to actually call revisions. Just tweaks in the language here and there. Mostly I end up reading for fun, even if my goal is to make sure the dialogue sounds genuine or to check my grammar, spelling, and typos. Talk about a waste of a potentially productive day of writing! Ugh!
My last bad habit, and probably my worst one, is being encouraged by hubpages right now, as we speak. I seek feedback that leads me to make dramatic changes to my novel while I'm still in the middle of my first draft! Without even finishing it from beginning to end, I end up having people read it and finding out that they want to know more about _____ or they don't like what a certain character did, or any other number of suggestions. My husband's suggestions are the most notorious in this regard. He has motivated me to change the beginning and the middle of my book so many times, and each time my book got a million times better. I'm glad the changes were made, but it was a setback that never would have happened if I had waited for reader's feedback until I was finished writing. Without that feedback, my book would have been completely different, not as good, and finished a long time ago. In my opinion, I would rather change my book while I'm in the middle of writing it than redo it all once I'm done, so I wouldn't have had it happen any other way. Nevertheless, this is still the biggest reason why my book is still not finished.
As much as I love writing, it's not my whole life, and finding a balance between reading books, working, hanging with my friends, and writing my novel is never easy. Last year, I was also looking for a teaching job on top of everything else, and I ended up sacrificing my social life in order to write while still working two jobs.
After all that, my motivation wasn't high very often, but when it was, I was almost always at work, forced to sneak away for fifteen minutes to quickly jot down my thoughts in the break room. I still have a whole notebook of stuff that I haven't had time to type up yet! Talk about an editor's nightmare, hah!Thank you, Website Examiner, for asking the question that resulted in the creation of this hub. I hope other hubbers can find comfort in knowing that they are not alone with some of the obstacles that stand in the way of finishing what you sta.....