Start Over

This time of year, so many people are making resolutions.  A new year is a fresh start, and many are thinking about what they’d like to accomplish this year, what they’d like to stop doing or a new way to think of their own lives.

I must say, I like resolutions, but I rarely make them at New Years.  I make resolutions all year long and they don’t always line up with the rotation of the calendar, even though I appreciate the freshness of a blank slate of a year.

The truth is, I love (and am great at) starting things.  I can’t imagine starting something today (or yesterday!) and believing that I’m going to stick with that thing through the entire year.  I get sluggish and uninterested and frustrated in the middle, and I totally lose my momentum.

I don’t think I’m alone, either.  After all, how many gym memberships are sold in January that are already no longer in use by mid-February?

There’s just something so exciting about beginning.  It’s infinitely better than the middle, and although finishing is more productive, beginning is still more fun.

I’ve become very well acquainted with this notion over the last year as I’ve been working to finish the first draft and then to edit it into the second draft of my first novel.  It’s been a great journey and a real push for me, because in the past I would always get about halfway through writing a book and then give up on it for a new idea.  This year has taught me a lot about perseverance and pushing through, and I’m actually getting closer than I’ve ever been to having something that might be publish-worthy (although it still needs some work).

Knowing all these things about me, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I’m about halfway through editing the second draft and I am soooo over it.  The middle is dragging on in my mind, leading to a finish line that seems to be receding like the horizon.  And I’m tempted to just ditch this editing plan and start from scratch.  Start over.

In fact, I am starting over.  I’ve been going through, page by page, editing, deleting, adding entire scenes, flushing out the details and the internal thought processes of my characters, but I realize that there are a lot of things in my book that are still out of order and most of it doesn’t really flow smoothly.

In the past, I’ve tried writing synopses, but I’ve never really had much luck with it.  I always tried to bullet point out my novel, and I realized recently that’s something that just doesn’t make any sense in my mind.  I can’t whittle a whole chapter down to a handful of bullets on a page.

So I tried writing it more like a book report, one for each of the main characters in the novel.  What happens in the story, and why does it matter.  I’m making good progress with that, and when I’m done I plan to start my editing over from the beginning.  I’m going to stop using the giant printed out binder full of pages and go back to typing on my laptop, incorporating the changes as I make them and trying to make sure I’m including the important items from each section of my synopses.

Will I stick with this plan through the editing of 350 pages?  Probably not.  But that’s kind of the point.  I’m giving myself the freedom to start over whenever I want to.  To develop a new plan of writing and editing that spurs my inspiration and energy once more, reviving the love that I have for this work.

This isn’t something I have to do, it’s something I GET to do.  Whenever it stops feeling like that, it’s time to shake things up again.  I know I’ll get to the end of this eventually, as long as I stick with this story, but I’m going to stop trying to stick to only one method of working.  Just as my characters grow and develop throughout the story, I’m ready to let myself change throughout the process of this work.

So if I have a resolution this year, it’s to start as often as possible, to keep going when one method runs dry and a new one presents itself, and to constantly reach for that energy and enthusiasm that comes with beginning.

And on my bathroom mirror, my reminder is this: IT’S TIME TO SHOW UP.

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