On Not Meeting My (Re)writing Goal

I got off to a great start this year in terms of meeting the goals that I’d set for myself. For the first time that I can remember, I was ahead of schedule through January and February on everything from wedding planning, to professional and personal editing gigs, to my own writing.

The last item on that list is the most unbelievable, because I have a terrible tendency to relegate my writing to the bottom of every to-do list no matter how much or little I have going on in the meantime. Combine that with my equally terrible inability to finish projects ahead of schedule–I’m a by deadline but never ahead of deadline sort of person–and you can understand my astonishment at finishing the prep and the research for my mystery WIP BEFORE I planned to start re-writing it.

My initial goal was to start my rewrite in February and finish it by the end of May at the very latest. That way, I’d have enough time to let the story sit for a few weeks before jumping back in for a last quick revision pass and then sending it off to a couple of writer friends for critique. It was a good idea in theory and allowed me to write without rushing myself in theory, but in practice? Didn’t work so well.

I’ve blogged and tweeted before about how I’m attempting to approach drafting from a different, more deliberate angle so that I don’t wind up re-writing EVERY manuscript I try to tackle going forward. I still think this new approach is going to benefit me in the long run, and I’ve already seen the benefits in the chapters I’ve re-written and the story I have so far. It’s a lot cleaner and a lot more cohesive than any second draft I’ve written before, and I’m pretty proud of it even though I know there will be elements I’ll have to re-work.

Unfortunately, I’ve also run straight into the same brick wall I’ve hit with every other manuscript I’ve finished to date, which is that a lot of the stuff in my outline hasn’t worked as well on the page as it has in my head. In the first two months of rewriting alone, I axed a major plot point that dramatically re-shaped the beginning of the story, realized I was starting way too soon and without enough set-up, and axed a character POV that I loved even though it added nothing of value to the central mystery narrative.

I stand by every one of those choices because I know they’ve made my story that much stronger, but once you factor in the time it took for me to identify what my problems were and how to fix them, it became immediately apparent that there was no way I was going to meet my original goal unless I quit my job, canceled my wedding, and gave up sleeping.

I recognize that this post sounds like one big gripe-fest, and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little frustrated by how far behind I am. Considering how much life stuff is happening in June this year, it would be really great to have a few more chapters left to write instead of . . . well, most of the book. On the other hand though, the writing is going a lot better for me now that I’ve identified the story elements that weren’t working, and I’m a lot happier with it than I was in March or April.

My current goal is to wrap up this rewrite before the end of July, so that I still have a month, give or take, to revise it a little on my own before I pass it along to my friends. I don’t know if I’ll achieve that goal or not, to be honest, since I’m getting married in just under three months and preparing for my wedding has to be my top priority, but I’m sure as hell going to try. And whether I finish a draft by August or not, I’m going to do my best to enjoy the writing process and appreciate how much more easily the words are flowing–regardless of how long it takes me to get to ‘the end.’

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