So, I’m in the middle of writing a new book. I outlined, imagined and mulled over this story for more hours than I can count and that’s before writing one stinking word. Now I’m doing the “fun part”–writing. It’s coming along nicely but in my goal to write every day I’ve found that my relationship with my WIP is a little…complicated.
I think all writers understand the bliss of writing like you’re in love. Like, if my story were a person– I’d leave a love note in its lunchbox with a cookie and a few x’s and o’s under my name. During these love laced word purges, all I can think about is my story. Writing like you’re in love is amazing. Writing can be hard, heart breaking work. We NEED those magical “I love you” writing moments so we don’t forget why we keep at it.
There are upsides to these love phases like a great word count and the buzz of writing something new and exciting, but I’ve also found love is blind. When I’m writing drunk with adoration, I miss things. Inevitably, when I reread these sections they’re not always as good as I remembered. Rose colored glasses might look cool, but they must come off before editing because, just like a real relationship, the euphoric love phase cannot last forever.
That’s when I write like I’m breaking up. I suddenly wonder what I ever saw in the whole thing after all. I tell myself, “Hey! Maybe everyone would be happier if we just called it quits, tried it all again with someone new.” I slam my head against the keyboard hoping something great magically cobbles together out of my forehead typing. But I don’t quit. I take my WIP to therapy. I change, the story changes, my writing changes and in the end, we both come out better, stronger.
Of course there are always those days in a writer’s life where you write just to get the words on the page. That’s what I call my “just friends” phase of writing. I like what I’m writing, but it’s just work. Work to get it out. Work to be happy about it. I’m following the outline, getting the word count in and hoping that at some point it all starts falling together again. When I’m in my “just friends” mode of writing I never have a problem saying goodnight and sending that WIP to bed with a friendly pat on the back.
But I’ve found that some of my best writing happens not when I’m in love, or breaking up or even just friends. It’s when I’m pretty sure that sneaky little minx of a story is plotting my demise while I’m sleeing. It’s a total “frenemy” moment where hate and love meet. That push and pull of “this is good” and “I can’t get anything right” causes a frustrating tug of war in your brain. For me, that’s when the magic happens. That’s when I figure out how plot holes are filled and when I really get to know my characters. When I figure out how to improve as a writer.
These days are not frequent, and sometimes these moments don’t even happen on the page, they happen in my mind as I’m thinking and rethinking the story. When I have a frenemy moment with my WIP, I always get a little angry because, doggone it, I was doing FINE without those unsolicited suggestions from my brain! That’s usually when I realize the dissenting opinion is correct. Things need to change. I’ve yet to employ a change from a frenemy day and be disappointed
So, no matter what phase you and your WIP are in, just remember, there’s something positive that can come out of every stage in this complicated relationship. It’s even more important to remember that if things aren’t working out between the two of you the way you thought they would, don’t give up—adapt because when a story is stalking you, a restraining order is not an option.