Tunnel Vision

Every so often I’ll get so involved in a project, everything else falls by the wayside. This usually happens when I’m in the midst of a first draft. I’m so excited to see my ideas come to fruition, that’s all I can think about. As if I must purge myself of every idea, image, or word before I can resume my regularly scheduled programming.

I feel like I’m in one of these states right now. There’s just one small problem – I’m not writing anything.

Well, that’s a bit of a white lie. I wrote this post, didn’t I? I responded to two prompts in writing group last night and I spent this morning crafting feedback for my critique group. So I am writing. I’m just not working on any of my WIPs. At least not directly.

I’m not suffering from writer’s block. Nor am I procrastinating. Instead, I find myself in a state of mental preparation where I’m gathering information, assessing my work, and thinking everything over in extreme detail. And all of this is in anticipation of submitting my entry into the Golden Rose contest – the first 50 pages of my historical romance novel.

The feedback from my first and only rejection for this project is also rolling around in the back of my mind. In fact, ever since I roughed out a plan of action in my last post, that’s all I’ve been able to think about. Last week I was all about exorcizing the demons out of my SF novel. But once I started thinking about my historical romance novel – that I’m-so-close-I-can-taste-it feeling – that was the beginning of the end.

This tunnel vision has led to me reading Jessica Page Morrell’s Between the Lines while watching World Cup matches on ABC this weekend. Next on the list are a handful of romances in my time period that I’ve already read once through already. When I’m not reading, I find myself replaying scenes from my novel in my head like reruns on TV as I search for ways to strengthen, deepen, and intensify each moment. (For those of you interested, there’s a post at Diary of a Virgin Novelist that discusses how this can be a great way to review your work.)

I also worry that I’m so enamored with finishing my novel, I’m settling for less than perfect prose – writing that’s competent but still a bit complacent. I certainly don’t want that. So I’ll revise again, armed with Browne and King’s Self-Editing for Fiction Writers as the final step before I submit.

Jody Hedlund blogged about how she hired an editor to revise her already-under-contract book. This seems to be an extreme measure, but it comes from a good place: the desire to write the best book possible. And that’s where I’m at now. I want to do my very best. I want to succeed.

But that also means coping with tunnel vision for the next few weeks while I revise my book to the best of my ability (again). But the in-depth thinking, while distracting, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s preparing me for tacking revisions – revisions I’m still getting comfortable with making.

How do you psych yourself up for doing what’s necessary for your WIP?

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3 thoughts on “Tunnel Vision

  1. Vatche says:

    I can completely understand what you're going through, Bluestocking. Thanks for the links to the sites and the book on self-editing; I'll definitely check those out!

    As for how do I psych myself up for a WIP, I usually think of all the cool scenes I could play out and of the adventure I can have with my characters.

    Currently, I'm working on a fiction novel titled “The Human Compass.” It's a story I've had in my head for a while and I've finally began working on it only to stop to think what would happen next. It happens to the best of us, Bluestocking, so do not worry that you're not writing just yet. You just have to wait until the time is right. At least, that's what I believe.

    Anyway, write on!

  2. Denise Nielsen says:

    Sometimes, I just let it go for a short while – think about it as if it's not my story, but is something happening to a friend. Replay scenes in my head without trying to rewrite them in my head at the smae time. Just let them flow and be. And then when I return to my WIP, I trust that these freeflow thoughts will come together and help me strenthen the bones that are already there. My favourite quote for these times when I'm not quite sure: “Take the leap; the bridge will be there.” Writing is an act of love, hard work and also faith.

  3. Jeffrey Beesler says:

    I usually let my inner editor out to play first, giving him the chance to revise what I wrote the previous day. Then, when he runs out of stuff to edit, I'm usually pumped to carry the story on for the next round of writing. I'm still testing with this, but so far it hasn't failed me.

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