Writing is kind of like a relationship. You meet a shiny new idea and are initially enamored. You take it on a date, write a chapter or two, flesh the idea out, see how things go. If it works, you go on another date, and another, and next thing you know, you’re 30,000 words in and realize you’re in a relationship.
Sure there are some kinks, but it’s cool. You gloss over them. That problem chapter can be addressed later. Those irritating little issues can be fixed down the road. You don’t want to rock the boat yet, you and your draft are just getting to know each other. When you finish the first draft it suddenly hits you: you’re in love.
You and your draft live in that love for a little while. Then you sit down to revise. The idea isn’t so shiny and new anymore. The longer you spend with the second draft, the more those little issues you initially glossed over become big issues. This time you can’t skip them. You have your first argument. Then your second. Sometimes you need to walk away and take a breather, but you eventually have to sit down and work out the problems. If you don’t, the relationship will be over and all the time you’ve spent will be for nothing. It’s okay. That happens. Every relationship isn’t meant to last. You believe this is “the one,” though, so you jump in and make it work.
But then you notice newer, shinier ideas. You’re tempted to stray, to see where they go. Some relationships fail here. The problems with the current manuscript are too great. So you leave and pursue a new relationship with a new idea. Sometimes you stay, though. You ignore the new ideas and force yourself to keep giving the old one a chance. Focus. Work. Plot. Write.
It can be grueling at times. Then you finish the second draft, and what do you know? It’s better than the first. Sure there are still some problems, things you need to address, but it’s all downhill from here. You and your manuscript know each other inside and out. You’ve overcome the odds and you’re confident nothing will tear you apart.
Until you sit down for the third draft…
It’s a cycle. Just like real life relationships. There are ups and downs and not all of them last, but that doesn’t mean you don’t give it your best shot. I’m close to finishing my second draft and my manuscript and I just had a big fight. I got distracted by other ideas. It didn’t want to fix its glaring issues. I was afraid this manuscript and I wouldn’t make it. I couldn’t get past that one point. We couldn’t move forward. The thing about the second draft is you can’t ignore the problems you overlooked in the first, not if you’re going to stay together. But we got through it. It’s not perfect, but its in a place where we can move forward, and that’s the crux of writing, I think…and in life. Moving forward. Don’t let yourself stagnate. Don’t dwell in the bad times.To stagnate is to die.
I’m pleased to report my relationship status with my manuscript is “Committed.” Have you examined your status recently?