Books · Writing Methods

Thinking outside the mind

Alright guys, it’s happening.  After many revisions and months of querying and then more revisions with my agent, my manuscript is about to go on submission.  I almost can’t handle it. Almost.

Now that it’s out of my hands, I need to get working on something else (both because I need to distract myself from constantly wondering if an editor is reading my book right this second and because I am ready to work on something different).  The thing is, I’m a little bit stuck.  I had a WIP I was working on before my most recent revision of my manuscript, and that was going okay.  But, after having a month away from it, I had some revelations that change it.  Drastically.

I’m adding a new character so I have dual protagonists.  And I need to come up with a new plot.

Those are big.  So big that most of the 20k words I have so far probably won’t make it into this version.  Last week, this caused me panic attacks and a few junk food binges.  This week, I’m coming to terms with it, and even getting a little excited.  I started jotting down new plot ideas, and I realized there are tons of possibilities.  I don’t have to stick with the one I originally thought of (which, as it turns out, might be too similar to a YA book that already exists).

Basically, I’m trying to think outside my own mind.  It was my mind that came up with the last plot and then convinced me that that was the only way to go.  Now I need to break down the limitations that it created and look at the idea anew.  It’s liberating, though also scary to see how many options there are.  Writing is all about making decisions, and decisions are terrifying.

In the back of my mind, I’m always wondering if I chose the right POV/tense/main character/villain, because those determine so much about a book.  Every page of a book is like a hundred-pronged fork in the road, and I’m afraid to choose the wrong path.  I guess the fear is related to my fear of being a slow writer; if I take the wrong path, I’ll have to backtrack to that point and continue on from there in a different direction.  You could view that as time wasted, but I’m trying to think about it in a positive way: every wrong path I take is a wrong path eliminated.  If I have to go back, at least I eliminated that one path, so now I’m down to 99 prongs.

Ninety-nine.  Good god, that’s still a lot.  I think I need a cupcake.


6 thoughts on “Thinking outside the mind

  1. I know the feeling, but you’re exactly right. And more than likely each time you do go back to the start, each new path, each rewrite, will feel slightly better, it’ll shine slightly brighter than the previous one. Dramatically changing a story you were initially very committed to not changing might be scary, but I actually think it’s what separates good writers from great writers. I think following those changes you have those moments where you think “oh yeah, I CAN make this a lot better after all”, and those moments are worth it.

    1. Agreed. Part of writing is recognizing when something isn’t working and could be better. Revisions scare me less now that I realize that my finished ms is so much better than the first draft, and I probably threw out 30k words. It was worth it, so it’s not terrible to be starting over on this WIP.

  2. You’re an such an exciting stage – jealous! I am a slow writer too, reeeally slooow. I think it’s wise you’re keen to throw yourself into another project, keep working on it and it will all fall into place. Well done!

  3. Decisions are terrifying! On my current WiP, I keep second guessing myself (a lot of it is because it’s something so different from anything I’ve ever written). But I think the main thing to remember is that first drafts won’t be perfect and to just words down on the page. Because once they’re on the page, then you can make sense of them (and revise!) Good luck!

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