We’ve all been there: manuscript in one hand, torch in the other. So you’ve come to a tough spot and no matter what you write it sounds like drivel. Questions surface in your mind…Why did I write this? What was I thinking? Is there anymore chocolate in the house? You’re questioning your ability, your self-worth and your manuscript has become public enemy number one. With torch in hand you flick that baby on and aim.
NEVER CHOOSE FIRE!
Yes, those pages may be calling for flames, but instead set the manuscript down, get out of your pajamas and go outside. This is the time you need to recharge and buy more chocolate. Instead of burning all that hard work—celebrate! You’ve hit a rough spot, which means you’re getting somewhere. The first few drafts are playgrounds. You’re allowed run with your wild ideas, add those crazy characters… DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. You may need to wait a few days, a week or even a month and then come back to your work with fresh eyes, so you can rediscover the magic that inspired you in the first place. Yes, you may need some careful editing and a jumbo eraser, but that’s part of the process.
If you’re feeling really lost and still have the itch to burn, try choosing a scene that made your heart sing. A scene that was so vivid in your head while writing, that you thought you were living it. Get inspired by your own words. Leave behind the troublesome character or plot section. Go to something more fun. You can always come back. Maybe during this process you’ll discover you don’t need the character or the scene or you’ll find a new plotline that’s even better.
To keep my manuscript away from the flames I use an outline. I don’t normally follow a strict structure while writing, but I do like an outline, when self-doubt creeps in. An outline brings you back to the story and helps you visualize your first intentions. It’s also is a good tool for modifying your plot without having to rewrite numerous scenes. Use your outline as a map. You can wander off the path, but you always have a way back to your storyline. This will save you time, give you the confidence to carry on and keep your manuscript from crisping to ash.
All in all you would never burn your favorite book, so why would you want to destroy a part of you? Not every sentence, character or scene is going to make it into your final manuscript, but you have to be willing to accept the burn worthy writing as part of the process, as part of your growth, and what makes you a writer. So blow out the torch and keep on writing!
Tiffany Duane writes stories about magick, love and dark creatures lurking in the shadows. When she’s not lost in Edit Land you can find her reading a book from her towering TBR pile or at the movie theater nibbling licorice. She doesn’t have a lucky number, but her favorite time is 11:11. She completely believes that the fortunes found inside cookies will come true and that you must be careful when wishing on stars. She lives on an island, so if you want to visit you’ll need a boat, and if you want to survive the passage be sure to bring candy for the mermaids.
Tiffany is a YA author and her latest release, Curses and Ash, is expected July 2015.