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Uncategorized, Writing

A Novel in a Year, Stage Three: Paralysis


Well, it’s hit. Or, if you’ve been following my canon metaphor, I’VE hit. I fired, and blurted out those first 5000 words joyously, and then paused to do some editing work on something which is due much sooner. Lo and behold, the editorial process has made me feel like an awful, untalented writer who’s going nowhere. My muse has died. I’m suffering inspirational asphyxiation. My magic feather has been seared to dust by the fires of indecision.

Well magic feathers, muses and convenient moments of inspiration are all bullshit, so don’t panic.

My experience of the editorial process from my publisher and the copywriting process from my editor is gentle. They pose questions rather than telling me straight out that there are flaws in the narrative. Is this too repetitive? Is this the best word here? They make sure to tell me when they love pieces of the work. But still, I feel emotionally ruined. I think it’s an ‘artistic person’ thing. I’ve seen the slightest criticisms take on the momentum of Mac trucks and lay even the most seasoned writers flat. If you think there are authors out there who don’t mind criticism, or ‘take it in their stride’, or ‘cherish’ it, seeing it as ‘an opportunity for improvement’, what you’re really seeing is DIRTY FILTHY BARE-FACED LIARS. The most proud of these amazing creatures will reserve their true hurt for the solitary late night hours, staring at the ceiling, imagining themselves responding to said criticism in witty cutting interviews on Sunrise. The slightly less proud (like me) will reserve their whining and sulking for their spouses. And everyone else will happily moan in public.

What’ll I do to snap myself out of this criticism-induced creative paralysis? Finish the edit. When the edit is done and all those awful little comment bubbles have gone away, I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off and continue on the new novel. If it’s not criticism and self-doubt, but instead a lack of ideas or a lack of what you think is ‘inspiration’ that’s got you stumped, go back through my blog posts to one of my first, called ‘Over the Wall’, where I deal with writer’s block.

So my word count is 5k or so, and my momentum has dropped to zero. Because I’ve got some experience at this game, I’m not worried, and I’m NOT thinking of writing something else. That’s the temptation trap for the newbie writer at this point – you think you’ve come to a halt this early because the idea isn’t strong enough. Don’t be the writer who had drawers full of unfinished projects. There will always be greener grass, and better ideas, just over there. Take what it is you like about the sexy new idea that’s trying to seduce you, and integrate it into the current project, or have the confidence in your own mental skills to know that idea won’t float away into the ether before you’re done with what you’re working on.

Back to the edit! *slumps dejectedly over desk* Urgh. Bleurgh. Gurgh. Someone kill me.


8 thoughts on “A Novel in a Year, Stage Three: Paralysis

  1. Loved your post, and yes BAREFACED LIAR, I can relate to x

    Posted by Rae Hilhorst | January 20, 2016, 10:28 am
  2. I know you’re talking about early paralysis, but 100,000 words into my manuscript I hit the same wall. I thought, I don’t have the ending. Do I even have an ending? I couldn’t move on. So, finally, I wrote for the final scenes: “something here, make it big, huge… THE END.” Needless to say, I did eventually write something there, and it was big, in fact huge. But it was in writing THE END that I felt I had somewhere to aim. Somehow, in some miraculous way, the story is there. The muse isn’t dead, she’s just on vacation.

    Posted by kezalu | March 24, 2016, 7:47 am
    • Heeey, great strategy! Giving yourself a carrot to follow. Tim and I were going out to my favourite restaurant every 10,000 words during FALL. Where’s the manuscript at now?

      Posted by Candice | March 24, 2016, 7:50 am
      • It’s with the editor and then it’s off to my agent whose been waiting patiently. I’m estimating just a couple of weeks for the spit polish.

        Posted by kezalu | March 24, 2016, 7:56 am
  3. Um… excuse my deficient grammar.

    Posted by kezalu | March 24, 2016, 7:58 am
  4. Love your writing style, it’s so honest and you’re so likeable and unintimidating. I was curious about you after seeing your parents on Sunrise so googled you and happened upon this blog (as you do). I’m an aspiring author currently going through the agonies of self-doubt and found something very encouraging in your musings. I’ll pop up to my local book shop and buy one of your books today. 🙂

    Posted by Sue | May 12, 2016, 8:36 pm
    • Hey Sue,

      Thanks for the kind words. Bad news: The self-doubt never ends! The difference is that you press on, regardless. Glad you found my work, and hope you enjoy it. Funny that you found it through my parents shenanigans on Sunrise – I’ll have to thank them for the promo. Keep in touch, and happy writing to you. Xxx Candice

      Posted by Candice | May 12, 2016, 11:45 pm

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