Fool’s errand

Time for another Insecure Writer’s Support Group post!

Today, I’ve been thinking a lot about foolishness as it relates to writing. In addition to being April Fool’s Day, today marks the first day of the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo. A little less structured than NaNoWriMo’s November month-long novel-writing event, Camp NaNo still encourages writers to challenge themselves in ways they might not normally, in ways that some might even term foolish.

For many years, I didn’t write first drafts. This isn’t to say that I never revised my work, but I revised as I wrote, making sure each paragraph was perfect before moving on to the next. It was a grueling process, and I can’t even count how many abandoned projects it produced. I can tell you how many completed novels it resulted in, though: none. In fact, I don’t think I finished anything longer than about 5,000 words that way.

There are authors who work well revising as they go. I, it turns out, am not one of them, even though that’s the way I instinctively want to write. To be productive as a writer, and to consistently enjoy writing, I need to let go of my perfectionism and allow myself to write flawed and utterly foolish first drafts. Sometimes, when I really start struggling with my perfectionism and inner editor during a first draft, I even type with my eyes closed. Is it silly? No question. Does it work? Every time.

What sorts of foolishness have you incorporated into your writing routine?

The monster at the end of this book

This is the first Wednesday of the month, so it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

Ending a novel can be difficult. I don’t mean difficult to write (although they can be that, as well), but rather that there is a certain anxiety that comes with reaching the end of a novel that sometimes makes me want to drag out the last few scenes of a book just so I won’t get there quite so soon. I never get this feeling with shorter fiction.

It’s not the sadness of a project coming to an end, because finishing a first draft isn’t anywhere near the end of working on a novel. There’s still rewriting and editing and more rewriting to be done, not to mention all of the work that goes into publishing a book if that’s where I want to take it. But there’s still an almost lonely feeling about coming to the end of a first draft and switching from wild creative mode into a more sedate and critical rewriting mode.

Which is all a very long-winded way of saying I’m probably less than two thousand words from the end of my nearly 100k WIP, and I keep dragging my feet about finishing it. I’ve been bribing myself to write with coffee and lemon cream pie and reading other people’s stories, but it’s still slow going, and I still can’t quite shake the mounting uneasiness as I draw ever closer to “The End.”

How do you approach writing endings? What are your strategies for trudging through the parts of your stories you’re not entirely ready to finish writing?