Writing update | treating writing like a job during social isolation

Like everyone else, I’m currently stuck at home. While I’m lucky enough to still be working, it’s very part time and leaves me free more days than not. So I’m trying to make the most of it and using this time to get some serious work done on my WIP.

First of all, I’ve gained a new respect for people who write full time. I’m probably writing 5 days a week, aiming for 3-4 hours a day, and it’s hard. It’s not easy to make myself sit down and focus intently for that long; I can’t imagine that being my full-time job. I would get sick of my own thoughts! (I kind of already am.)

Anyway, what I’m working on right now is revising the first draft of the dragon story I’ve been working on for about a year. In my last writing update in February, I talked about starting out on the revision process, which is brand new to me. Shortly after that, I ended up taking about a month off from writing because, well, life. But once I stopped being able to go to work in late March, I forced myself to get back into revision.

If you want to know more about the step-by-step process of revision that I’m using, go check out my last update! In short, I’m using my own version of Susan Dennard’s Revision Guide. Last time, I was on Step Three, which involved identifying plot holes.

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What I’ve finished since last time:

  1. Tracking all of the plot threads and identifying plot holes.
  2. Writing a synopsis of the book as it is in draft #1.
  3. Evaluating all the major characters and figuring out weak spots.
  4. Evaluating the setting.
  5. Writing a synopsis of the “perfect book” (aka where I want it to end up).
  6. Imagining each major character as the “perfect character.”
  7. Honing the setting to make it the “perfect setting.”
  8. Fixing plot holes in each plot thread and marking what needs to be changed.
  9. Marking what needs to be changed for each main character.

Hmm, that actually seems like a lot now that it’s all written out. At times it feels like I haven’t made any progress at all.

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I’ve been marking changes using sticky notes on the plot notecards that I made last time. It’s been a lengthy process and used up a lot of sticky notes so far, but it’s nice to see things finally coming together!

As of writing this post, I’ve done the character changes for all four of my main characters and now am working on the rest of the significant players.

It feels like a very slow process, but I’ve been trying to let myself take my time and really delve into each step of this process, hoping that it’ll make the end product that much better. I get a little impatient to move on to the next thing at times, but I keep reminding myself that this will all pay off in the end. Hopefully.

As you can see, what I’m doing now is trying to turn my messy draft into the “perfect book,” which is kinda making my perfectionism anxiety go into red alert. It’s easy to get discouraged when I feel like the changes I’m making still aren’t “perfect.” I have to keep reminding myself that it doesn’t actually have to be perfect, just as perfect as it can be right now, if that makes sense. It’s something I also had to learn in first drafts. They’re allowed to be messy, because as long as it’s written it’s “perfect,” and likewise any revision that makes the manuscript better is automatically “perfect.” If that makes sense. Idk, that’s just what I’ve been reminding myself so I don’t get discouraged!

Parks And Recreation Notes GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

What’s next?

First: finish off making character changes for the rest of the important characters.

Next: mark changes to the setting and any other little details that have cropped up along the way.

Then I’ll finally be able to move on to Step Five: marking up my manuscript!

I’m very excited to actually implement the changes that I’ve been imagining this whole time. I’m swimming in new ideas and I feel like I have a much stronger sense of my characters, so diving into revision is going to (hopefully) be fun.

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As I’m getting closer to the point where I might show this book to others for critique, I’m starting to think about how readers might react to it. And that’s a bit of a terrifying thought – not only because of the usual worries around letting other people read my writing, but because this book feels so specifically in my wheelhouse that I can imagine others not caring about or enjoying it. I don’t know why the idea of someone feeling apathetic toward my writing is worse than someone outright hating it, but here we are.

Part of that comes from the fact that, well, I don’t have the most likable characters. Two of my main characters are Slytherins. My narrator is often frustratingly self-absorbed. Pretty much all of the major characters are, in some way, kinda obnoxious. Of course I love and understand them, but they’re my children, so of course I do. I’m not sure others will be so generous.

I can practically picture the feedback: “Nat is so annoying! Joss is selfish! Austin never shuts up!” (Nobody better complain about Elliot, though; Elliot is a perfect angel.) Obviously these might be valid criticisms, but the thought of people tearing apart my characters like this is a little scary.

I'm joining you! yay! - Album on Imgur

Anyways! I’m getting ahead of myself! This draft isn’t anywhere near ready to show to other readers! But now that those thoughts are in my head, they’re staying, so that’s fun. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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A little while back, there was a trend on Twitter to introduce the main character from your WIP using other characters/celebrities that inspired them. I decided to join in, and now I’m going to introduce you to all four of the main characters in this book using other characters.

Nat

nat

Victor Nikiforov from Yuri on Ice: famous athlete who thinks that their only worth comes from impressing audiences and doesn’t really know who they are outside of performing

Taylor Swift (like…the person): in the public eye from a young age and deeply aware of how they’re viewed by others

Elsa from Frozen: the lyrics “conceal, don’t feel, put on a show; make one wrong move and everyone will know” is Nat’s character in a nutshell

(weird how they all actually look kinda similar)

Joss

joss

Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games: careful and calculating in every move they make, very protective of the people they care about

Dana Scully from The X-Files: incredibly competent and no-nonsense, wants to be taken seriously

Adam Parrish from The Raven Boys (art credit): dislikes being reliant on others, wants to be independent and in control of their life

Elliot

elliot

Remus Lupin from Harry Potter: kind and empathetic, the one you can always count on when you need someone to talk to, would rather take care of others than themselves

Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games: deeply protective, caring, and dependable, the type of person you always want on your team

Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation: hardworking, comes across as serious at first, but secretly is a huge nerd

Austin

austin

Jake Peralta from Brooklyn Nine Nine: kinda goofy and immature, but has their heart in the right place

Thor from Marvel (specifically Thor: Ragnarok): eager to prove themselves and protect their loved ones

Sokka from Avatar: the Last Airbender: really smart (even if others don’t always appreciate it), a natural leader, and also a nerd

Writing music

  • Elevate by St. Lucia (for the general ~vibes~)
    • And no one elevates you, elevates you now / And no one’s gonna take you, gonna take you there
  • Centuries by Fall Out Boy (for my villain – seriously, how has no one realized what a perfect villain song this is??)
    • And I can’t stop till the whole word knows my name / ‘Cause I was only born inside my dreams
  • Mercy/Gatekeeper by Hayley Kiyoko (for Nat, my girl <3)
    • It’s easier for me to stay quiet, not speak a word / For if I do, then the truth might emerge

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How are your writing projects going? How has social isolation impacted your writing? What characters/celebrities inspired your characters?

x Margaret

goodreads | twitter | indiebound

17 thoughts on “Writing update | treating writing like a job during social isolation

  1. Social distancing has definitely made me think about trying to get back into writing and seeing your post has inspired me even more! I love your character mash-up/aesthetics for each of your characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel the same way. Social isolation is hard but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its upside. This is the perfect time to work on any creative projects including all our WIPs! It took me a bit to get into the rhythm of a new routine but it’s coming along. It sounds like you are doing great though, Margaret! Also, I totally get what you mean by being sick of your own thoughts! Writing is HARD and our minds can be mean, overthinking places sometimes! I’m a perfectionist like you and that’s why I struggle with getting my first draft done. I always think I can do something better so I get distracted but that takes time away from writing. I really love what you said about a first draft being “perfect”. You are right. Writing that draft is the hardest part and when it gets done, no matter what, it deserves to be considered perfect! Thank you for that, it just changed my perspective and made me more inspired to write! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! I’m glad to hear that you’ve been able to settle into a new routine as well 🙂 Haha yep, being inside your own head for so many hours at a time isn’t the easiest. But I’m so glad that what I said about perfectionism in first drafts helped you! Drafting is SO HARD, so I think getting any words out at all is an achievement to be proud of. Thanks so much, and good luck with your writing! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love hearing your thoughts and I’ve been trying to do more work on my WIP but my motivation sucks at the moment and I don’t know what I’m doing !! But I’m glad to hear you have been working on your writing and making progress, I will use it to inspire me!
    I’ve never tried revising and editing but it looks a lot of work. I like seeing what you are doing and how you focus on specific things to really establish the characters and setting! I’m so glad you mentioned worrying about your character being unlikable because that is me. I have a breakdown about this all the time !! We are in this together, haha!! I love getting to know your character a bit but the mention of Adam Parrish, Peeta Mellark, Ben Wyatt, Jake, Thor and Sokka makes me very excited !! Best of luck and AWESOME post as always !! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh I can definitely understand struggling with motivation right now – it’s certainly not the easiest time to be creative 😬 But I’m glad I could provide some inspiration!

      Revising is turning out to be a lengthier process than I’d anticipated, but I’m just hoping that it’ll all be worth it in the end. I’m glad I’m not the only one who worries about unlikeable characters, though!! Yesss all those characters are fantastic, and I hope I can make my own at least a fraction as amazing. Thanks so much, and good luck with your own writing! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Gosh, writing for a few hours every day is SO HARD, and I’m so impressed with you. I tend to do an all-day binge and then run away for a week, which is definitely not conducive to making good progress, haha.

    I find that writing these types of posts, and listing out everything you’ve done, is actually a fantastic way to encourage yourself to keep going! I always think I’ve done nothing, and then I’ll draft up a writing update, and suddenly, I’m like, “oh wait, that’s a lot?” So congrats on your badass list of progress!

    And yeah, I agree with you, apathy sounds way worse than straight up dislike. Because at least dislike, there will be constructive criticism about why it’s not working, but apathy is just like “eh it was whatever,” and how do you fix that?? But it’s not going to be for everyone, and we have to remember that, at the end of the day, as long as we love it, that’s all that truly matters. Because there are tons of other people out there who also like the same things as us, and tons of people who don’t, so no matter what, it’s going to be a mixed bag.

    Good luck on next steps!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I KNOW, I have so much respect for people who create regular writing routines. I try, but it’s certainly not successful 100% of the time.

      And yes, I was pleasantly surprised to see everything that I’d accomplished listed out like that! 😀

      Ugh, why is apathy such an awful possibility?? I definitely think it has to do with criticism – I would much rather have someone tell me WHAT they didn’t like, so I can fix it, than someone say that they just didn’t ~feel~ it. But yes, that’s a great reminder 🙂

      Thanks so much, and good luck with your own writing! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It looks like you got so much done for your revision already! Good luck with the rest, you can do it! 💗 I just finished my first round of revision and now I’ll have to go back and reread the entire thing again 😄 I also love how you introduced your characters using other book/TV characters/celebritities, it’s such a cool way to get to know them! 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

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