WHAT TO DO WHILE WAITING ON THE MUSE
ANYBODY SEEN MY DATE?
Like so many other writers, I'm in the middle of something. Right now it's rewriting the novel I'm working on. The process is only different in the amount of freedom it entails. Writing the thing was a seat of the pants dream. Sit down and give full reign to the work itself. Just follow it where it wants to go and don't ask a lot of questions.
I set off with easy goals of a couple of pages a day, but before I knew it I was banging away a chapter per session. Ninety-one thousand words later - Voila, a first draft. Of course, a first draft is just that, a draft, a very detailed (In some places over-detailed) outline of an actual book. You know, that finely polished bit of literary art that someone besides your mother is willing to part with the requisite cost of a copy to own.
The fun's over. The work begins - all the way back at those fateful first words: CHAPTER ONE. This is where so many people end up flummoxed. After all, the stories done, the spark of creation is gone. Metaphorically, the child has been born. Just like child birth, it takes a lot of work after that point to take this squalling, red faced, wrinkled kind of almost being and raise it to admirable adulthood.
But where to start when the magic's over? Take small bites when eating an elephant!. Begin at the beginning by finding all those adjectives and adverbs. Are they necessary? Stephen King suggests you go after words ending in 'ly' with ruthlessness. Can you find other ways to begin a sentence than with the ubiquitous 'The'? Does every sentence involving a particular character need to start with the character's name or the gender correct pronoun?
'THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE', 'THE ELEMENTS OF GRAMMAR', and 'THE ELEMENTS OF EDITING, plus an unabridged dictionary and thesaurus should be within arms reach. I'd also suggest 'REVISION AND SELF-EDITING FOR PUBLICATION'. Yes, I know that's what you think an editor is for but a good one will cost you. Why not get as much of the work done before you have to start dragging out your wallet? Not to mention, if you're pursuing the traditional route of trying to entice an agent into taking you on, the more polished the product you deliver to them, the higher your credibility and the easier their job is when it comes to interesting publishers in your work.
Too often, neophytes get it into their heads that it's someone else's responsibility to tame the savage they've brought into the world. Your baby is yours. If you're not willing to help mold and shape it, then it's liable to end up an orphan.