I don’t know if you’ve ever written something out in its entirety, then scrapped it and started again but I’ve done that with this post a few times.
As you may or may not know I’ve been going through the process of being treated for cancer over the last four months, and yesterday I got a tentative ‘all clear’ from my Doctors. This means no more chemotherapy (hooray!) although a great many doctors are about to take an unhealthy interest in my body for the next ten years.
Unhealthy for them. I maintain it’s good for me.
The day of getting the news I was flattened, even depressed. It wasn’t until later that I started feeling better and had the sudden realization that I was going to need to start rebuilding my life from the ground up. I’m lucky, absurdly lucky in fact that I get to do that. Cancer and chemo have left me with some permanent restrictions on my life, but none of them are too terrible, and for the most part I get to have a say in rebuilding back into what I want to be. So many people never get that chance, so I’m determined to make the most of it.
Unfortunately determination doesn’t actually mean I know a damn thing about how to do this.
I said to my brother today that when it comes to writing the simplest advice is the right advice. Writing is, at the core:
- Write something
- Finish it
- Edit it
- Write something else
That advice is true and the best writing advice I’ve ever had. It’s also, in its own way, incredibly unhelpful. Much in the same way as the old chestnut “How do you eat an elephant? One step at a time.” doesn’t really impart any useful advice about how to deal with the very angry elephant you just sank your teeth into.
Unfortunately for rebuilding my life, and for writing my books, it’s all I have at the moment (I’m going to skip the elephant thing). Small steps seem to be the only way to go, no matter how frustrating they are. For some people (me) having a plan ahead of time seems to help, because otherwise I just flail about on tangents until I have forty thousand words of nothing, and the same principle applies to my life.
So that’s my homework for me, feel free to follow along if you’re building/rebuilding your story (or anything else): write a plan for the next three months. Not New Year’s resolutions, an actual plan to follow full of tiny steps and planned rewards.
Let’s see how it goes.