Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fate and Inspiration as Writing Tools

This past year, for me, was a year of plodding, disjointed writing. I spent the whole time working on a project I should be revising right now, but I'm too sick of it. Like any other project, it started out with promise and I was excited about the pseudo-unique premise.

But every time I started to write it, something felt off. I tried outlining. I tried pantsing. I tried writing whole scenes from another character's POV. I wrote several scenes from other characters' POVs. And I built up an Excerpts file (my recycling bin for stuff I don't end up using) that was bigger than the draft document itself.

I wrung my hands in frustration. I banged my head on the computer desk. But no matter what I did or how many brilliant brainstorming sessions I had with my writing friends, I still felt lost in this huge dark forest of words. 

I finished the third draft of that book a month ago and after one beta read, I'm ready to put it back on the shelf to simmer. The thing still resembles a patchwork quilt -and not a pretty square one!

Contrast that experience with the project I'm working on now. My characters came out with names that fit perfectly and personalities that spoke to me. It's been about a month, and I'm almost done with the first draft. If I buckled down, I could finish it over the weekend (but I won't because it's my husband's birthday and family totally comes first). The first spurt had me writing 11k words in one day/night. I felt inspired, fated to write this story. 

I know it isn't anywhere near perfect or complete, even once this draft is done, but it's already five times better than the project I slaved over for a year. I'm grateful, and I also feel awful about it. My poor, awful story that had such a promising concept and never got off the ground!

It's got me wondering sincerely if Fate and Inspiration really are the greatest tools of writing, after all is said and done.

Or do you think that year pulling my cart through the mire with that other project is what made the new one ride more smoothly? 

Because I believe in Hard Work, too. Even more than I believe in Inspiration, and definitely more than I believe in Fate.

Still, if I didn't know any better, I'd say there was a muse out there after all.


  1. Hard work AND a muse :o) Fate and inspiration are bollocks. Fate is what we make it. And inspiration is just another word for Muse so that no one gets burned at the stake for hearing voices :o) hehehe. Glad this one is working our for ya!

  2. LOL, Jessica. I love that explanation! And thank you. All the best to you, too! P.S. Just got a certain musically-themed book in my mailbox the other day!!

  3. I'm completely with the first part of this post. I have over 30k of deleted words that go with my 14k-word WIP. :( Still waiting for that inspiration to hit - good luck with yours!

  4. I think they're all there at times. I've already told you how I felt inspired to write my series, but there's a ton of hard work involved as well. As I've slaved over the first book in the series, the others have become easier to envision. It's a bit of everything.

    And I don't think you should give up on the unnamed project ;p But I definitely am proud of what you're currently doing! You can tell you're passionate about it.

  5. The book you put on the back burner helped you to create this new manuscript. With each revision and rewrite, you become a better writer.

    Don't give up on any of your projects. Your passion for it will return and then one day, you'll know how to fix the book.

    I know exactly how you feel. I spent the better part of the last six months cringing every time I opened my current WIP. "This too shall pass". :)

  6. Sometimes things just come together, you know? I have a patchwork novel too. I think I had the wrong character as the MC. If I ever get back to rewriting it, I'll have to straighten that out and it'll go much better.

    Nice post!

  7. Maybe you needed to write your other WIP to truly appreciate what an amazing experience you are having. I'm so excited for you :)


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