Ramblings of an Unpublished Writer: Volume 2

Hi guys! Welcome to volume two of Ramblings of an Unpublished Writer! I had such a great response on my last one, which I honestly didn’t expect because let’s face it, it literally is just a load of rambling! But you guys seemed to like it and I’ve had a lot of lovely support regarding my writing since posting it. I aim to please, so here’s another one.

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Posting my last “Ramblings” post made me feel extremely liberated. I never realised quite how many other bloggers out there, even some I know, are working on their own novels! Some of which are even in the editing process. You lot kept that one quiet, didn’t you! But it’s given me a lot more confidence to crack on with my own. I’m currently at just over 30k and here are some things I’ve learnt and some things that are helping me at this point:

1) Getting feedback

I’ve taken the plunge and sent my work to 1 or 2 author friends who I trust to have a read and to get some valuable feedback. This has helped me massively and they’ve made some very good points which I’m planning to take on board when I get to the editing stage. Knowing that someone is enjoying what you’re writing, even at only the first draft, is extremely encouraging!

2) Taking on board the negative

Thankfully, I’ve not received many negative comments from the people I’ve sent my work to regarding the story, plot-line and writing style and I’m extremely happy about that. I have however, received a few comments about tense issues, grammar issues and format issues. At the beginning, it’s so easy to take every bad thing to heart but I’m definitely striving from working on them.

3) Character profiles

I know my characters quite well now but there is always so much more to learn and even my main gal still continues to surprise me. Usually with her ditziness but whatever. I’m in the process of making some character profiles for them, so I can go into more depth about their lives and past. Even if my readers won’t know some of it, I want to know my characters inside out.

4) Timelines

Like in most stories, the characters have a past which has led them to where they are in the present. My main character obviously does and it’s time to tell everyone about it so I’m making a timeline of dates and ages and years so I can easily pinpoint where certain things happened and where something went wrong.

5) Reading

IΒ  know that all authors have to read and it’s one of the most useful tools. Obviously I always read, beingΒ a book blogger, that’s evident but lately, I’ve been really into read, more so than usual and am flying through more books than usual. I’m enjoying embracing myself with literature to try and broaden my mind as much as possible for my own writing.

And here are some things that I’m worried about at the moment:

1) Never finishing it

I’m so thrilled with the amount I’ve written so far, especially as I’ve never wrote this much for anything before in my life but it’s getting to the point where it feels like I will never ever finish it! I know I will, if I keep working but it’s just a niggling feeling!

2) Not knowing where my story is going to go from here

I’ve been on such a roll so far with such a clear path of what’s going to happen. I know what’s going to happen in the end but now I’m worried about how my characters are going to get there.

3) Taking too long

I know I don’t need to rush my first draft and I’m not trying to rush it at all but I am so impatientΒ  and I’m worried I’ll still be writing this first draft when I’m 40!

I’m still enjoying writing and having a lot of fun with my story and my characters and that’s my main objective right now: to finish my first draft and have fun doing so. I think, the second I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, I’d stop and evaluate why that was. Being more open about my writing; getting feedback, mentioning it on Twitter and Facebook and writing these posts are definitely helping and pushing me even more to reach my goals.

If you’re currently writing your first novel, what’s helping you at this first draft stage? If you’re already a published author, can you remember what tools helped you? I’d love to hear your answers and share some tips!

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32 thoughts on “Ramblings of an Unpublished Writer: Volume 2

  1. I’m doing a little bit of writing at the moment and bless you, I agree with everything here especially knowing how characters are going to get to the ending. I know how I want it to all tie up but I’m not sure how to get there and spin a coherent story. Also timing is super difficult to. Like how to weave in the back stories but make sure it all adds up!

    I’m sure we’lll get there in the end πŸ™‚ xxx

    • Oh you’ve practically read my mind here! I’m currently working on a “back story” bit and I didn’t anticipate how difficult that would be! It’s all very well writing the story, but then you’ll hit a point where you need to tell people HOW your characters got to where they are and it’s like AH! It’s difficult but it’ll all work out πŸ™‚ Good luck with your writing! xxx

  2. Great post. I’ve self published my first book, got a deal for my series. Here are my tips:
    Deadlines worked for me. Knowing how many words I needed to complete each week kept me on track. I didn’t always reach them mind, but it did push me to move forward. Even 500 words a day is doable if you’re very busy.
    Writing software. Scrivener is amazing and I recommend it to everyone I know. You can move around scenes, chapters, and have an online cork board. You can trial it for free. Get it. Now.
    Music helped keep me in the zone.
    I recommend working out the structure beforehand so you don’t get stuck later and end up deleting huge chunks of text (trust me, I know). Even a couple of lines for each planned chapter will keep your story going in the right direction.
    Editors. Don’t self publish without them. (Unless you get signed, then they are par for the course.)
    Read lots and never stop learning. Read ‘The Art of Writing,’ ‘Writing Down The Bones’ and ‘Stein on Writing’.
    Most of all, keep the faith! It always seems impossible until it’s done. πŸ™‚

    • Wow, thank you so much for this comment Caroline! I’ll definitely take on board some of the things you’ve said and hopefully it will help out any other aspiring writers reading this, too πŸ™‚

      I’ve been pretty clear on where my story was going, up until now, so I think planning out the next lot of chapters will help me loads in order to get to where I need my characters to be at the end!

      I’ve not given too much thought to the publishing part yet, being in such an early stage I don’t want to get ahead of myself nor get my hopes up for something that may never happen. Self-publishing has crossed my mind a few times though, I’d love to know more about the process and how difficult/easy it is!

      I’ll also definitely check out Scrivener, sounds great!

      xxx

  3. Thanks for updating us – it’s great to hear you’re sticking with it and getting nice feedback! I’ve finished one book (unpublished…looking for an agent) and I’m now working on the second. I’m at 22K and envy your very healthy 30k!

    I have days when I’m completely uninspired and start to worry about where it’s all going, but these moments usually pass and I get a new idea which solves the problem. It’s fantastic that your characters are still surprising you – let them do their own thing and it’ll all work out.

    If you ever feel yourself flagging, maybe you could you “reward” yourself by writing a really exciting scene you know is coming up later in the book? I’ve done this a couple of times and it always cheers me up πŸ™‚

    For grammar/style issues, I wouldn’t worry too much until you get to the editing stage. I read “Self-editing for Fiction Writers” by Renni Browne and Dave King before I did the really chunky edit of my first novel and I found it helpful.

    Keep going! You’re doing great! πŸ™‚

    • Hi Claire, thank you for the lovely comment! I may have to check out that book you mention, it sounds very helpful and obviously something I need to read haha! Congratulations on finishing a book and the best of luck with finding an agent! That’s a really good idea about “rewarding” yourself by writing an upcoming scene you know will be good – I’m enjoying all of it but obviously there are scenes which are more exciting to write than others! xxx

  4. I love these ramblings! I’m pretty sure you already know I’ve restarted my own novel.
    Congratulations on getting through your novel and character profiles are a great thing! And don’t rush! You’ll get there! I’m always worrying that I will never get my novel done.. I wish it was finished already! But let the experience of writing it immerse you! xoxo

    • Yayyy, I’m so glad you like them! Congratulations on your own novel, hope it’s going well? (: And I totally agree, I’m trying not to worry too much about anything and just enjoy it, which is the most important thing right now! (: xxx

      • It is going well! I’ve got the whole idea set and ready to go and I’ve managed to start writing it!
        Yes, exactly! Ah, writing is the best. 😊 xoxo

  5. Excellent blog Jenny, I (self) published my first book on Amazon back last year and was given mixed feedback (but that’s another story) but anyhoo I moved on and I’ve been writing my second book for what seems an eternity.
    I have to say reading your blog and the comments left have given me a positive insight and now realising that I’m not the only one has not only made me feel less like a serial writers block writer (I made that up I think?!) So I shall back to it with a different attitude and hopefully a published book by the end of the year!!
    Thank you and best of luck with it all,
    Annabel x

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Anabel and I’m glad the post and the comments have helped with how you’re feeling! The very best of luck on your next book and getting published! xxx

  6. I can’t believe it! I’m going through the same thing! I’m also around 30k, but I too feel sometimes as if even with my slow but steady progress, I’ll never finish this thing. Since my worst writing enemy right after procrastination is self-doubt, I’m working on always telling myself it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s just a first draft! It can be crap, I can skip scenes I’m not feeling up to writing. I’ve discovered that when burnt out, writing about random kissing can give me enough ideas and fuel to get me back on track most of the time πŸ™‚

    • Ooh how exciting! I hope it’s going well for you too (: I think all first-time writers have an element of self-doubt. I’ve had more along the lines of, “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing” type thoughts but you’ve just got to push them aside and carry on! The first draft is supposed to be rubbish πŸ˜‰ xxx

  7. Well done on progress so far! This is just an opinion, but I don’t think fancy tools help much – they’re mainly a distraction or a bit of fluff. The only thing you need to be an author is your brain and something to put your words down onto (you know, like Microsoft Word – as fancy as that πŸ˜‰ )

    Writing your first novel is a very different experience to writing your second or third, etc. Of course, you’re always eager to finish a project, but with your first you’ve got something to prove to yourself and to other people (at least, I think that’s how a lot of first-time writers feel). It’s easy to be eager to get to that stage where you can say you have written a novel, published it even. Don’t worry, it will come. Stay focused and keep putting in the work. Once the first one is out of the way you’ll fall into more of a routine where you write regularly, building up various different projects at once. You won’t put the same pressure on yourself because you’ll know you can do it, and you can do it well.

    I’m not sure any of this really counts as advice, but basically I can sum my advice to new writers up in one word: WRITE. πŸ™‚

      • Absolutely – I know a lot of writers who do. I am quite dubious about their value but if it works, it works, and that’s main thing for any writer. πŸ™‚

    • Ah when I say tools, I don’t mean apps or books or anything to help me – all I’m using at the moment is a word document.
      Thank you for the advice and for this comment, it’s great to read things like this from people who have been there and experienced it because it gives a good insight and you usually find out something you never knew before.
      Your advice to write is very good advice indeed πŸ™‚

      • No problem at all – like Caroline says, different things work for different people. It sounds like you’re going really well so far so I’d just keep it up! There are always periods where the words come more easily or where you don’t get the chance to write for various reasons. Having a short-term word count target really helps, so if I know I want to write 10,000 words this month, I pretty much aim for 2,500 a week and then make it happen.

      • I agree, there’s definitely been times where the words flow really easy and others I struggle to string a sentence together haha! But I try not let those bad periods put me off – as long as I get SOMETHING written down then I’m happy πŸ™‚

  8. Great ‘series’ (Go on, now you’ve started filling us in, you know you’ve got to keep going, don’t you?!Best of luck and enjoy, congrats and well done xxx

  9. Yes I’ve written two novels, both which have received a range of rave reviews to negative. One woman (A booktuber) ripped my YA fantasy novel apart saying the plot jumped all over the place. But as upsetting as these things are, i am working on a third novel and connecting the plots better. it is better for the learning experience. Never stop writing!

  10. Loved this! It’s also so relatable! I’m currently outlining my story, I’ve made character profiles, with pictures of my ‘dreamcast’ and the fashion sense I want to give my characters, it’s very helpful! I had a super long list of questions to ask about a character and it’s super fun to do! I also outlined my novel chapter to chapter, maybe that might assure you that your characters will get there (I’m sure they will!) but it might be a handy tip if you haven’t done this πŸ˜‰ Also, if you ever need a reviewer, I volunteer as tribute! ^^

    -xxx-

  11. Good luck with your WIP! Writing a novel is a long process, but a worthwhile one. Perfectionism was my biggest challenge. It made me believe that my WIPs were never finished. The best advice I received about overcoming that type of obstacle came from my residential college dean who was talking to an anxious group of freshmen about term papers (many moons ago). She said, “The paper you finish is always better than the paper you don’t!”

  12. Hi Jenny! I can completely relate to this post!
    30 to 60k is my least favorite part of a first draft. I always know what happens at the beginning and the end, that’s why I set off writing a book. But the middle always drags on forever.
    My tip for you: don’t rush in. Never stop writing because otherwise this is the part where you give up, but allow yourself a few brainstorming sessions when you feel stuck. Every time I force a chapter, I end up deleting it later.
    What works for me is to put pen to paper (how old fashion of me!) and ask questions. What happens now? What does my MC want? I know X happens later, but what are the events that lead to it?
    A few stream of consciousness sessions, seeing the world of the story through my MC’s eyes help as well. Trying to picture what she feels, what she wants, what she needs.
    I also focus on the positive feedback I’ve received to keep going. Y read my book, she said it was great, now isn’t time to give up, my story deserves to be told,… This got me through my first draft, then through the many rewrites. I just began querying agents for my novel but even if I don’t hear from any I won’t despair. I’ll just self publish πŸ™‚

    Good luck with your writing! xx

    • Oooh what amazing advice, thank you so much! I’m definitely at an odd “middle” stage at the moment, I’ve just come to the end of a good part which was all planned out up until this point. I know what I want to happen at the end but from the middle to the end, I’m not quite sure how to get there! But like you said, I’m not rushing. I’m still getting some feedback which I’m going to work from now and possibly try what you said, by asking myself questions, that’s a really good idea πŸ™‚ Best of luck with your own writing too! xxx

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