Why I Revised My Top Writing Habit


Hey All!

If you checked in with this blog anytime within the last two years, you’ll probably remember reading about my WIP, “Moorhouse,” as well as my “Painted Veil” serial novella(or maybe not, you probably have better things to meditate on than my on-going writing saga;)) Anyways, on the oft chance that you were wondering how they are going, both are going well. They’re going, anyways. Now I bet you’re thinking, “Okay, Emily, that’s great. But then where are the goods?” Valid question. My answer would be that while both projects are going well, it’s also more that they’re going how they should be.

This year has been a very exciting, weird, emotional one for me, and one I won’t forget any day soon. There’s been good things (university graduation, a temporary research assistant/co-author gig, a children’s literature scholarship, starting an ESL Teacher’s Certificate, acceptance from two graduate schools, accepting one, and the promise of a teaching assistant job once I’m there), bad things (consistent vandalism of our house by neighbourhood twerps, house renos ;, used up all my ferritin stores and was threatened with a blood transfusion if the iron levels didn’t go up (they did)) and some things that I didn’t want to happen, but ended up “okay” (being called for jury duty, making lots of decisions, etc.) Bottom line of all of this, is that after going through a lot and decluttering the old, and saying goodbye to a lot of things, I felt a bit stuck (like “where now?”), and I was ready for something new. So I put both ‘Moorhouse” and “Painted Veil” on hiatus. I’m definitely returning to them, but for now, I decided to work on something else, which happened to come completely out of nowhere. It’s going REALLY well (like 90 pages in less than a month well), and is top secret (for now), but I wanted to share how I had to break my top writing habit to get there.

I was totally promoting the practice of writing out of order, rather than chronologically, a couple of years back with “Moorhouse,” and with good reason. At the time, it worked for me, and yes, it still does. However, it has it’s drawbacks, like any admirable habit. See, the thing with habits, is that they can really work for you, or they can bring out your less admirable traits. For me, writing scenes that I was most passionate about first and worrying about the more boring or tricky ones later helped me to get really vivid emotion and description into some of my scenes, and also accomplish a lot fast. Yay, no writer’s block! But “M.H.” is a very complicated fantasy novel that also has individual histories, family trees, relationship things, etc. So, for someone who loves to edit others’ work, but strongly dislikes going through that process with her own, this book was a painful nightmare to revise in second draft.

Personally, I’m thinking that the reason the idea of writing out of order stopped working is because it’s very short-term gratification. It’s kind of like if you met someone and two minutes later, was convinced that they were the one for you. Maybe you’d kiss in the rain like in some lame Nicholas Sparks-esque movie. And maybe you’d only ever those parts of your life, anything else blocked off; no conversation, no messy bits, no non-perfect moments. That’s what writing out of order was like for me. You get these really good bits here and there, but the in-between can feel very disconnected and shallow, at least for me. By doing this, I got to some of my destinations, but there was no journey, no lessons along the way, less character development (some, but not much). One thing I’ve learnt from reverting back to being a chronological writer, is to let go of perfection and to just write through the hard bits. Some of them are not fun, but half of the deliciousness of writing isn’t just getting to the ending, but learning more about your characters, letting things grow and build, having anticipation of what comes up next. Pride and Prejudice wouldn’t be as fun if Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth actually got together right away, after all…

What about you? What writing habits do you need to break? Let me know in the comments below!


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