Its an agonizing feeling.
The cold, frustrated sensation you get when you can’t find the right words.
I always feel that way when I’m getting ready to start drafting a novel. Where to begin? With action, dialogue, a witty snippet of narrative? I always know what’s going to happen in my beginning, I know my characters, my plot, and my mood. Those things are easy. Finding the right words, that seems impossible.
I struggle with this every time I begin a new book. And you know what I think my problem is?
First, I haven’t written in a while. I have had my nose stuck in my outline for the past five months. And aside from the occasional snippet I’ll write to get an idea going for a scene, I haven’t seriously sat down to simply write in months.
I realize that this might not be the healthiest thing for my…creative mind, so to speak. And I’d love to be able to write more. Ray Bradbury wrote a short story a day. Consistency is key to good writing.
Second, when I first sit down to start drafting a novel, I am still in the mood for outlining. My inner editor (I’ve nicknamed mine Tori) is a very vital part of my outlining process. She tells me when she’s bored, when something doesn’t work, when I haven’t explored my characters deeply enough. But however helpful Tori might be in some processes, such as outlining and especially editing (her primary job), telling me that my first paragraph is stinky prose and should be re-written RIGHT NOW, is found nowhere in her job description.
This might seem silly for a non-writer. But as a writer, I constantly feel the tug of my subconscious mind, or inner editor. The job of the inner editor is to tell you when something is not working, whether its a plot hole, a flaw in emotion, or simply bad grammar.
Yet it is vitally important that Tori not interrupt my drafting process. During this time, she is allowed to tell me when she’s bored and when there is a lack of conflict. That’s it. She’s not supposed to tell me my prose stinks or that I (gasp) used a preposition to end a sentence with.
In conclusion, I think I need to a) write more consistently to keep in the rhythm of it. And b) I need to tell Tori to shut up and completely ignore 90% of her criticism.
Because lousy prose can wait. There’s a reason God created editing.