Welcome to another Author Toolbox Blog Hop post!
I know last month I said I’d talk about villains today, but I’ve stalled on my WIP to the point I volunteered to help my mum decorate rather than work on it. Removing wallpaper from the walls of my childhood living room and preparing them for painting made me realise some things about writing.
Lesson 1: Some things take longer than you expect.
Me and my partner, who I think regrets offering to help, had different expectations of how long it would take to remove wallpaper. He thought it’d take 2 hours, I thought 4. Given we had a steamer, we thought this was a reasonable estimate. Three days later we’re still doing it. We didn’t account for the thickness of the wallpaper, or the amount of fiddly sections where pipes and radiators were mounted to the walls.
Writing can take longer than expected too, be it finishing a first draft, or editing. It’s hard to estimate how long projects will take until you start them. You might find out your writing’s not as good as you thought it was and spend time studying to improve. This happened to me, with the first draft of Dragonspire. I’ve come a long way since then, but I had to start over and redo most of it.
What can we learn from this? Be patient when finishing a story takes longer than expected. You might not have done enough research, and need to do more, or you may get stuck on a scene. Accept that things don’t always run smoothly, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and allow extra time when setting goals to avoid the stress of not meeting them.
Lesson 2: Projects run more smoothly when you have a good team.
To cut down the amount of time we spent on decorating we divided tasks: I’d do the fiddly bit, taking the top thick layer of paper off, and my partner would go over the second layer with the steamer. We established a routine and shared tips for getting it done faster. It still took longer than expected, but less time than it would have by myself!
When you work as a team you share ideas and make suggestions for improving or working faster. This is true of writing too. We have beta readers, editors, friends to bounce ideas off. In my university workshop group we read each others work and help each other improve. I use my partner to bounce ideas off, as he has a knack for picking up plot holes and helping me work things through.
Develop a good support network for your writing. Make friends in the writing community to share your writing woes with (we’re not scary, I promise!). Find beta readers, and an editor who is not only good at their job, but a good fit for your project.
Lesson 3: Not all projects are easy.
It turns out removing wallpaper is hard work. Even with a steamer the paper wouldn’t come off easily, because the wallpaper on my mum’s walls is so thick. It was easier to work in layers, scraping off the thick patterned layer first and steaming the rest. After that the walls needed cleaning and sandpapering, ready to paint. Not easy, and very time consuming.
Writing isn’t easy either. Like the wallpaper removal, story drafting happens in stages. The first draft is almost always rough around the edges, and projects usually need more than one draft before they’re ready for editing and beta readers, let alone release.
Don’t give up if you hit a bump in the road. Writing takes patience, hard work, and a willingness to draft and re-draft until you get it right. Easy? No. Worth it? Yes. Because nothing compares to doing what you love.
Take your time, work at your own pace, and you’ll get there eventually. At least that’s what I keep telling myself! In the meantime, I have more wallpaper to remove, plot and villains to study, family to visit, and I’m back at university next week! All in all, a really busy month, and we’re only halfway through it!
Thanks for Reading!
Ever removed wallpaper? Started a project you thought would be easy, only to find it really wasn’t? Do your projects take longer than expected? Chat in the comments!
This post is part of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop, hosted by Raimey Gallant. Next month I’ll focus on villains or plot. To read more posts in the hop, click the image below:
Don’t forget, the new hop rules make it easier to participate: Participants can choose to post every other month, and editors, cover artists, illustrators and others can join us. I’ll probably post most months, with the exception of May when I’ll be sobbing over deadlines!