I read a quote recently that said if you look at the state of your house, office and garage, that reflects the state of your inner being.
Hmm…I just came off a week of celebrations – my daughter graduating from college, my son graduating from high school – and the ensuing parties and houseful of guests. All my adult children, plus extended family hung out at our house, playing games into the wee hours of the night.
The morning light revealed piles of coke cans, Doritos wrappers, blankets, shoes and pillows scattered around the family ottoman or kitchen table, the evidence of, well, fun had the night before.
We capped off our week with a hike up to a local waterfall, where we took a few minutes to sit down and reflect on the accomplishments of our graduates, as well as looked ahead to the future with hopes and dreams.
Amidst the fun of the game playing and cake-eating, the three hour hike afforded us with an opportunity to cherish the important stuff.
In the middle of writing a book, we can get caught up in the drama (and challenge) of writing, moving from one climatic event to the next. But somewhere in the middle we sometimes lose steam as we look ahead at all the scenes we must yet accomplish. Our progress begins to slow and suddenly we find ourselves standing in the middle of the room, looking at the debris, wondering how we got here, and how we might find the strength to continue.
It’s time to do a Quick Read of your book.
Reading what you have so far will charm you back into the story, into the big picture, and charge you with momentum to finish. You’ll see what you have accomplished – and the reward of staying the course.
Here’s some advice on how to maximize your Quick Read:
- Don’t edit each scene as you go. If you stop to edit, you’ll find yourself suddenly reworking essential moments, slow your progress and you might even change something that will affect your ending. Instead, TAKE NOTES on your story – outlining possible changes. You might also highlight areas you need to pay special attention to later. Remind yourself that you WILL go back and re-write, and give your story a deep edit when you’re finished. Now, you’re just trying to reignite your inspiration.
- Keep an eye out for shallow (and unfounded) emotional responses. When you’re writing that first pass, you’re still getting to know your characters and their emotional responses. A second read through, after you’ve gotten to know them better will unearth deeper responses, more meaningful reactions, and add to your emotional layering of a scene. Again, don’t rewrite it yet, but make notes on how you might react to this differently. Then, on your editing pass, you’ll have a springboard from which to rewrite the emotions.
- Make notes on where you might need more storyworld, or perhaps even an additional scene. You might even find a redundant scene.
- Pick up plotting threads you might have forgotten as you’ve trudged through Act 2. Make a list of all the threads so you remember to wind them up at the end.
- Ask: WHAT DO I LOVE? I always ask myself this as I’m reading. What do I love about this book? What character moments, plot twists, dialogue, prose – I go ahead and highlight it so I can remember why I’m writing this book, and I’m encouraged that yes, it’s a worthwhile venture to continue. Seeing all those pink highlights is encouraging as I’m scrolling through my kindle, ready to start moving forward away.
Finally, doing a Quick Read of your book, especially while you’re busy with other events (e.g. family graduations!) utilizes that “non-writing” time and helps build your momentum for getting back on track after the party has died.
Life gets in the way of our writing – (or rather, writing gets in the way of life?), but you don’t have to let yourself get derailed. Or, maybe you simply have lost your steam. Stop writing, sit down and start reading.
You might just discover you’ve found your next favorite author.
Go! Write Something Brilliant!