Good morning, friends! On Tuesday, I had a wonderful conversation about my writing process. After bemoaning the last few months to my friend, we had the following exchange:
Her: Well, what's stopping you? You talk a lot about this book, but when are you going to actually write it?
Me: I'm doing it. It has just been harder than I expected.
Her: I mean you just need to write. Go write.
Me: Oh, so, I'm about two-thirds of the way throu-
Her: OH MY GOSH! You are?! That's so great! I didn't know you had gotten that far with the actual writing! Next time, open with that!
So, I thought I would take a moment to update you guys!
As most of you know, I resigned from my job last October to pursue writing full-time. My plan was to lock myself away for the month of November and come out on December 1 having written a fictional novel based on my year with cancer. Super easy, right?
Well... guess what.
Writing a novel is hard.
Writing a novel about a gut-wrenching subject is harder.
Writing a novel about a gut-wrenching subject that you actually lived through is darn near devastating.
This process has filleted my insides, turned them inside out, and dumped them on the ground in front of me.
If you had asked me last September about my year with cancer, I could have re-told the story with a bittersweet smile on my face and maybe one lone tear in my eye - all the while easily fixated on the ending. But when the story is broken down into moment-by-moment remembering.... well, that's rough on the emotions.
Are you thinking "But... I thought your novel was fiction?"
As I shared with my friend, and now share with you, the process of fictionalizing a story still requires remembering some hard things. Things I haven't thought about in a long time. Like...
The day I found tumors in my neck.
The night my mom told me I would possibly lose my hair.
The smell of chemotherapy.
The weirdest thing happened in January. When I reached the chapter where the main character finds out she has cancer, I froze. I literally stared at my computer for so long the motion detector in my office lowered the thermostat and turned out the lights. A few moments later, my computer went on stand-by. I found myself sitting in a cold, dark office staring at the wall.
It was infuriating. This was not Writer's Block. I knew exactly what I needed to write next. I knew the dialog that the characters would have and exactly how the MC would react to her diagnosis.
But. I. Could. Not. Write. It. Down.
Irritated, I stood up and left my office. For the next few days, I let myself forget about writing. I cleaned my house. I went to lunch with friends. I went to the gym. I cooked some really great meals. I watched some Netflix and played with my dog. As Elsa advises, I Let It Go.
About a week later I returned to my office ready to write.
Favorite sweatshirt - check.
Awesome latte - check.
Rainy day - check.
Sleepy dog - check.
But I still could not do it!
What. The. Heck.
So, I went on a walk (the rain had stopped) and I prayed. The whole time I was walking, I thanked God for whatever came to mind. As I rounded the corner of my street, heading back to my house - pine needles under my feet and cherry blossoms over my head - a still, small Voice said, "Write the ending first."
I needed to tell the ending, so I could write the rest of the story while walking with confidence of the victorious ending.
I went back home and busted out about 5,000 words. I've written quite a bit since then, but I wanted to share some of the process with you guys because I think it is good advice for any challenge you may be facing.
If you are going through something right now, I encourage you to go
Write The Ending.
Put it down on paper.
Even if it's just one sentence.
Imagine your happy ending!
You can get through the middle part - the crappy part - if you can visualize the victorious ending.