One solace I have in writing a first draft is that I can discard these names as easily as I create them. Roger might turn into Leonidus or be wiped out completely. Anything goes in the first draft. It’s just a whirlwind of loose strings.
I thought I’d share my first draft writing experience with you because I think writing a book is crazy. Everything about it seems crazy to me. Fathoming a plot, inventing characters and giving them life and emotions, creating worlds and magic systems. Why did I think this would be a good idea? How did I think that this could actually be doable? As I’m battling through the logistics of novel construction, there’s also dealing with the mental games I play with myself as a writer, like procrastination, and finding the willpower to plow through a sea of terrible sentences, just to get to the end of a scene. Every day seems like a struggle. But I want to do it. I want to finish it. Because I need to prove to myself that it can be done, that I’m not just wasting my time.
I think there are many mysteries about writing that I’m only discovering as I write my first draft—things that can’t be explained in blogs and books on writing, but I’ll do my best. You can learn the foundation and basic rules to writing a book, but it doesn’t replace the feeling and actual experience of sitting down and facing a menacing blinking cursor every day. Many times you might find yourself unable to come up with a paragraph or even a sentence. Some people like to call it writer’s block, I call it my personal psychological enemy. I think writer’s block is just a misnomer or just a placeholder for what’s really going on under the surface. Things you come to learn about only when you start writing. The term “writer’s block” just means some sort of barrier that prevents you from writing. It doesn’t tell you anything about how it got there, or why it’s there, or how to get rid of it—though many people would like to tell you how easy it is to swat away, like a pesky fly. It’s not that simple.
The personal struggles and challenges one goes through while writing (like fear in my case) is something that seems to plague me all the time. It looms over me and tries to discourage me. It’s the thing that builds the writer’s block. Finding the willpower and following through is my only way to defeat these weaknesses. These are things I discovered while attempting to write. Maybe if I show you as I go along, you can experience it with me. This is the first time I’ve attempted to write a book, and I really hope I finish it.
Things that are currently helping me as I write my first draft:
- The Plot Whisperer (my logistics coach and reference guide)
- Notebook (for doodling and jotting down random ideas)
- Scrivener (the writing software that tries to bring order to my madness)
- Writing groups (I joined a couple to get some feedback and to make myself feel more accountable to getting my work done)
- Reading tons of novels (because it helps and it’s fun)
Sometimes, on a warm summer night, I’ll sit on a rocking chair in my backyard and gaze up at the darkness around me. I’ll take a deep breath and marvel at all the tiny sparkling lights that extend into forever. That’s when I begin to realize just how insignificant I am.
Somewhere, light-years away, there could be someone sitting on their lawn looking up and gazing out toward my planet wondering if I exist. To them, I’m just a microorganism living on a dazzling pin prick in the sky.