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Thoughts After Writing Draft Three: Burnout, Inspiration, and Deadlines

My manuscript is coming together way better than I ever imagined it. I don’t plan everything, so when things fit together unexpectedly it seems like pure magic. And yet, this felt like the longest draft of my life.

Burnout

So you might have seen my thoughts after finishing draft two that I was giving my book to some beta readers. Which is a necessary evil but I needed some better beta readers… It didn’t feel like I got much back from them. And one of my beta readers was very hung up about one particular part of my manuscript and could offer nothing else of use.

I had also given the first chapter to my writing group for critique. And they gave me some great feedback! But at the same time is was a lot of feedback. Ultimately it’s my decision what advice I take and what I don’t but I felt seriously overwhelmed and under-prepared. I took writing classes in college but not once was I ever taught how to edit. And I still don’t know if I really do know how to edit.

All of this lead to a serious struggle with burnout. And this project is huge! How was I going to fix this whole thing? I had just spent two years drafting this thing and now I had to do more? It seemed unfair and too much to handle.

Inspiration

Part of the reason I was in a sort of burnout was that I lacked ideas on just how to fix my manuscript. I know I needed to up the stakes in parts and really solidify my main character’s motivations. But how do I do that? Good books are always character driven. But I write fantasy so sometimes things happened that were out of my main character’s control… Yet, of course, she would still react and have motivations despite the things being done without her say.

Slowly, as I sat on my manuscript and refused to touch it with a ten-foot pole, there were some sparks. They weren’t really sparks but fireflies fluttering by. I just had to get a jar and catch them before they flew away. It’s the super small stuff in life that let me get back into writing.

Another thing was I started reading again. And to be honest, I got back into reading by reading fun and entertaining ebooks. It was no pressure and not intimidating to read these books. I was reassured that my books could someday have others enjoy them.

Dealines

And then I gave myself a deadline again. I did this last fall so I could finish the first draft of my book. While I lived in Spain, I wrote the first half of my book over the course of the year. When I returned home, I finished the second half in just four months. I set myself not writing goals for each day but rather by month. My goal was to finish four chapters a month. My chapters average from 2,500 to 5,000 words so it was quite a hefty deadline I set for myself. But it worked!

And I needed that same kick it the pants to get my third draft finished. My deadline? PitMad. PitMad was on June 6th and I participated! It was an insane experience and I learned so much from pitching my book on Twitter that day. So from the time I got back from Florida to the beginning of June, I added a chapter, two scenes, did line edits and wrote my query letter. And now I’m letting the query process begin.

I want so badly to be deemed an official, professional, real-life writer. But I already know I am a writer. There shouldn’t have to be qualifiers. I am a writer. As simple as that. What comes of my writing is what might determine my “status.” Because I want to get paid for my writing. I want to make a living from my stories. Don’t we all?

So I’m not going to stop. Even though this manuscript is finished (for now), I will keep writing and keep trying to get my book published. I will not quit!

Happy Writing-

4 Comments

  • Mary Drover

    Congratulations! I totally get the burnout feeling after receiving too little and then too much feedback. It can be overwhelming sometimes! Speaking of feedback, though, would you ever be interested in swapping novels? I also write fantasy, and though I feel like I’m in a good state with my current series, I don’t have any fellow writers as readers at the moment and have been trying to find some.

    Good luck with querying, too!

    • Hayley Elizabeth

      YES YES YES! I’m in serious need of a reader and I am dying to read your novel! It would be so fun to swap and get feedback from someone in my genre. I’ll email you 馃檪

      And thanks!

  • Tom Burton

    Great learning more about your writing journey! 馃檪 It can be very disheartening when writer’s block looms its ugly head & beta readers can often supply too much feedback to meaningfully act upon, but I know you’ve got it in you to finish your novel! Keep going! <3

    • Hayley Elizabeth

      Oh thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement! It has been tough and striking a balance between writer’s block and too much feedback has worked out for now. Thanks again for the support 馃檪

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