Writing Secrets: Breakthroughs are hard
When you’re struggling with a piece of writing, you long for a breakthrough. But when it comes, it’s not always comfortable.
Two of our mentoring participants recently experienced significant breakthroughs in projects they’ve been stuck on. One of them realised she’d been plodding away trying to create the story of a fictional character she didn’t believe in and couldn’t get her head around.
The other realised she was writing of a period and a milieu with which she had no affinity. For both of them, it meant starting again. It’s hard. Believe me, I know how hard that is.
But better now than later. Better than dragging oneself through a manuscript with which you have nothing in common. Change is hard, but think about it this way: having learnt what you have from the abandoned manuscript, you’ll write a much better book.
An award-winning novelist recently gave advice to someone who was struggling with voice at the start of a project. “Try it a few times,” he said. “Try it thirty times in different ways. See which works best.”
Writing is all about starting again: start a sentence again. That paragraph needs a do-over. The trick is to recognise that this is the way you improve. Don’t get demoralised. That’s the only thing stopping you from becoming the best you can be: the possibility that you’ll lose heart and give up.
As Samuel Beckett said: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”