Monday, 27 June 2011

Crushing Crisis of Confidence

I'm nearing the end of my first draft. It's so close I can taste it. It's likely I will complete it by the end of this week.

You would think I would be excited by this, and don't get me wrong, I am - but - I can see there is a lot of work to do when I start on the second draft and its scaring me.

There needs to be further character development done along with character arcs (I read that phrase somewhere. Do I sound knowledgable?) where my characters need to go on their own personal journey with a beginning and conclusion. I need to figure out how much history to put in about how the victim got to where she was and how to deal with one of the secondary characters who has her own issues. I then need to build up the characters of the other secondary and supporting characters and make them real. On top of all the character (have i said that word enough yet) work I have to decide if there is enough action or if the story is too procedural and I have to fix the plot holes I already know about.

These are issues I know without even having read through the work yet. It's starting to strike a massive fear in me that this is too huge an undertaking and I'm not fit for the role.

What in earth made me think I can do this? Really. I so want to create a good story but the enormity of what I've undertaken is currently quite daunting and is freezing me up a bit.

Have you ever been overcome with a fear you couldn't achieve something and how did you overcome it?


  1. I'm in a similar place to you so I'm afraid I don't have any advice except - eat the elephant one bite at a time.

    You're already ahead of 95% of people who start a novel in that you'll be finishing it (I may have made that statistic up, but, Meh).

    You can do this Rebecca, one step at at a time.

  2. Congrats on nearing the end of your first draft! When it's done, you should take some time to sit back, relax and revel in the awesomeness of your accomplishment! (I know - easier said than done. But you deserve it!) You wrote a whole book - smoothing it out and and getting it ready to go out into the world isn't as hard as getting through the first draft, though it may seem daunting now.

  3. Don't worry about any of that stuff now. Just finish that last little bit, then take a few days break. Print it out, have a glass of wine and read it, beginning to end without any form of notes or editing - if you can bear that. If not, use a pencil only. Just enjoy the story that you created, read it as a reader. Yes, you have obvious points you want to address, and you'll find many more probably, but this is a good time to look at the thing as a whole.

    Oh, and congratulations. Like the comments already, it's a huge achievement!!

  4. I went back through my own blog and found an entry from almost a year ago when I was feeling much the same as you do now, so you're not alone. As others have advised, take some time before you launch into revisions, and - yes - you have achieved so much more than most folk do so give yourself a pat on the back.
    This may not work for you, but in my business (as opposed to writing) life I like to structure my tasks, have lists to work to, etc. So when I set to on revisions I spent a lot of time categorising them (characterisation, plot holes to be filled, descriptions to be added and so on) and made a list under each category. As I worked through those lists lots more things occurred to me but it felt under control because I was approaching it in a businesslike fashion.
    Oh, and grab yourself a copy of Nicola Morgan's book if you haven't already - she's got great practical advice on stuff like pace.
    You can do it!

  5. Well done on getting this far! Draft two is actually easier than you think. The minute you finish draft one you realise you want to share it. Leave it for a few days and jot down any ideas that pop in your head, but do not add them, keep taking that mini break. By the end of the break the ms will come across fresh and you will be ready, willing and able to start the next stage. Good luck!

  6. First drafts typically stink. So do second and third ones. Just keep revising and rewriting until you have something good. Don't worry how long it takes. Finishing a first draft is HUGE. Congrats!

  7. Lots of wise comments already. We all go through the crisis in confidence; mine was about a month ago and yet I am now four or five pages from typing The End.

    The next draft will be better; the one after even more so, and before you know it, your manuscript will have received so much polishing it gleams. Just don't rush it, or be too hard on yourself in the process.

  8. Rebecca, do you know how many writers would like to be where you are with your book now? :-) Well done!

    My father used to say that those who made it out of the jungle alive would have never managed if they'd have thought of the whole jungle at once, rather than the next bush at a time.

  9. I've had that feeling! When I finished my first novel I basically sat there thinking "now what?" I knew I needed to edit, that I needed to flesh out the characters and setting a bit more, etc., but that didn't tell me how to START doing that. But once I sat down and started, it really wasn't so bad. Good luck!

  10. You can do it, Rebecca.

    You're so close to the end of the first draft. End it, then take break for a bit.

    Put it away for a bit to allow your eyes to switch from the writer's lens to the reader's lens.

    You'll be able to see where and what needs to be done for the next phase of your project.

    You can do it! You can do it!

  11. I'm not there yet, but I can see it sneaking around the corner and I don't know whether to speed up or slow down. But no worries, you'll get through it, and maybe leave tips for the rest of us along the way?

  12. Hehehe regularly. I actually call my fantasy WiP The Beast because it terrifies me every now and then.

    But ok... breathe in. Breathe out.

    Good. Now finish this draft and let it lie. Give your mind to stew on the story in peace. In a few weeks from now, reread the book and make notes. By then your mind should have worked out all of those issues you mentioned.

    Good luck!

  13. Thank you everyone for such kind and common sense comments. I really appreciate the support in a time when I was going a little wibble over it all. It's great to have the blogosphere to share all this with. Thank you!

    Sarah - You're right, regardless of statistics, they are long odds of people getting as far as we have. Thank you.

    Ranae - Thank you. It is pretty awesome isn't it!

    Annalisa - Thank you. I need to order some more ink so I'm able to print it off!

    Janet -Thank you. Yes I have Nicola's book and it's really great. I read it straight through when I first got it, but I think it's time I go back to it and look at specific area's now. I think breaking things down is the way to go, that way I have bite size chinks to work on rather than looking at the thing as a whole and panicking.

    Glynis - Thank you. I think I need a new notebook for all the notes this re-drafting is going to take!

    Karen - Thank you. It does feel like an achievement. I just need to keep going and have some belief in myself I suppose.

    Donna - Thank you. It's always good to know that I'm not alone and these feelings are normal. I'm thinking that by the time I've written this, you have written The End. Wishing you lots of luck with it!

    Astrid - I love your jungle analogy! Thank you!

    Shannon - Thank you. It is quite daunting isn't it. I'm glad to know that all these feelings are natural.

    Mieke - Thank you. It will be a strange experience reading it through. It seems so long ago when I started it that I've probably forgotten what I've written!

    Jenny - I will definitely continue to blog about the process as I go through it. It's great to be able to share these things with each other isn't it.

    Misha - I love that! It really is that scary at times isn't it. I know this feeling will pass, but will come again at all the different stages. Fingers crossed my mind can work it all out!