Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Nurturing the Work In Progress

I’ve sent off two of my stories into the world, and now another one stares back at me, unfinished and turbulent, neglected and hungry.

This unfinished story is also a romance, one I began writing during NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) last November, and have already begun rewriting from page one. Unfortunately, because I’ve focused on getting Love Handles published (and lightly promoted), a month has passed since I wrote a page in that story. In that month, I’ve lost my grip on the threads – along with my confidence that I’ve plotted the story in the best way.

There are many approaches to writing fiction, though RWA (Romance Writer’s of America) slang has divided it up into Pantsters (seat-of-your-pants writer) and Plotters (outlining, planning writer). I’ve tried both, usually ending up with a hybrid, but I’m still frustrated with which is right for me. One thing I am: slow.

Dean Wesley Smith has an excellent blog post about the advantages of writing fast. I don’t know how much of writing speed is innate and how much is learned, but I’m willing to try. I certainly can’t get any slower. Well, I suppose I could never finish anything. Or stare at the screen for hours on end, writing nothing.

No, my problem is garden-variety procrastination and self-doubt. I can blame the Internet for providing a stealth distraction – (right there, the same device I work on is also calling to me like heroin) – but even when I’ve had the WiFi turned off, I find other ways to avoid writing.

But it comes in waves. It comes when I’ve stopped writing that particular story, for whatever reason, and then need to get back to it. It’s very hard to sink back into that story again, to break the crust that has formed over it, a shell that keeps me out, and I look at it and wonder if it’s festering in there and really worth the effort to fix.

It is. I happen to love this story I’m working on. It began as a light, steamy 60K novel. In the rewrite, I’ve taken out the premature sex, made the hero a 6’5″ 250 lb not-alpha sweetheart, and added layers of friends and family that will take a lot of work to weave into a rich whole.

In other words, it’s a better book.

But now that I’m halfway through the rewrite, I’m thinking the beginning isn’t right, and the middle is great so I should have that be the beginning, except then I haven’t grounded the story in a place and time that will matter so I have to rewrite that first scene–

Slow. This slows me down.

If you’re going to be a major re-writer, which I am, you need to spend more hours working if you want to have a career. You have to finish what you start and you have to rewrite until it’s ready. Finishing and rewriting are often at odds with one another. You have to work on it until it’s ready, and also stop when you need to move on.

Well, one thing’s for sure – it’s neither ready nor finished by any standard, so I’ve got to get back into it. My big sweetheart and his short, sarcastic love interest. Their rich, beautiful friends who would be the focus of any Hollywood version but are just colorful background in mine. This isn’t a love story between the obvious characters, but their closest friends. A romance for the sidekicks.

Working title: Billionaire’s College-Dropout Buddy, Supermodel’s Best Friend.

I’m laughing. Doesn’t that sound like a book you’d like to read? I would. So I better get back to work.