Well…I did it.
At exactly 12:01 AM on January 2nd (while the fireworks were still poppin’), I finally turned in my first manuscript to my editor.
Of course, the work is far from over, but you know what?
After going through three rewrites (from 90K to 120K to 86K words), I honestly feel like I put my best foot forward.
And damn…that felt so good.
But I wouldn't have done it if it wasn't for this sub, too. You see, I spent the majority of my free time lurkin' and scrolling to get some insight. So, thanks for everyone with the passion for writing – and writing in writing – because it helped me with my writing.
Speaking of writing…
Now that I have a little break…and…well…sort of nothing to write about, I wanted to post about my experience. You know – just in case you're lurkin' through reddit for insight, too. (Then again, I don't wanna over-promise. So, if you don't gain insight, I can promise you that I'll at least waste your time). I just wanna write about writing in writing because it might help others with writing, okay?
Anyway, the first insight?
- If you haven't started yet, what the hell are you doing?
For a long time, I had an idea, and I believed in it so much.
After I became a COO at 24, I wanted to help students earn the positions they wanted. To do that, I was gonna share my personal growth journey and write a business self-help book for interns. But when I finally sat down and wrote it? God. It was so terrible. I wrote way too seriously, and I didn’t even recognize myself in my own writing.
You might’ve heard of “the ugly first draft”, but my draft wasn’t just ugly, it was pure evil. So evil that I almost lost all hope in writing.
Fortunately, however, one thing led to another, and then? Somehow, I ended up adding fictional elements to my story, writing about video games, and tying that into pieces of my life. Now, it’s NOTHING like I had envisioned before. I mean, it’s still a self-help book, but it's not even the same audience. And compared to my original idea? it was like a holy spirit calling.
In fact, that’s what the entire writing process was like for me. It showed me that ideas are fucking insane. So many times, I sat down with the perfect idea to end a chapter in a specific way, but then, somehow, end up in a completely different direction, thinking “what the hell is this? Did I write this? Holy shit. I wrote this!”
You see, if life has taught me anything, it’s that if you have a wild idea in your head, JUST START ALREADY. Whether it’s a book, business idea, or whatever – don’t wait for the right moment (especially if it’s constantly on your mind). You have NO idea where the process will take you. And the longer you wait, the higher the possibility of losing ideas you’ll never even know you had. Trust me, you might have the perfect idea in your head, but you too might find how evil it is once you let it out. So hurry and let it out. If it's evil, you'll find a way to kill it with something more magical.
2. So you started writing, but you've already come across Writer's Block, eh?
To be honest, I never really had an issue with writer’s block.
I think a large part of that was accepting upfront that I won’t always have ideas in my head. That I’ll come across times when I won’t know what to write. Or that I just don’t know enough, and I must find answers.
So, whenever that happened, I didn’t stress about it. Instead, I redirected my attention to something else (or, as I like to call it, I used my intentional A.D.H.D.).
But here’s the thing. I made sure whatever I did at least related to fueling my creativity. And fortunately, that wasn’t hard to find with the subject I was writing on. I played video games, watched anime, lurked through reddit, listened to songs, read books on how to write, and more.
Sometimes, I put away all of that, and I read books on marketing and publishing. It wasn’t directly related to the content of my manuscript, but with every new piece of info I learned, the more I envisioned the end product. The physical book in my hands. And with that, it wasn’t hard to get my ass back on the chair and get to work. Motivated to see it through.
If you're dealing with writer's block, try look for inspiration somewhere else. Somewhere that's not on your paper.
3. "No time to have you lurkin'. Just get ready to work, work, work, work, work, work ."
Okay. Obviously, A.D.H.D won't finish your paper.
You still gotta write. And if you’ve got a deadline, like I did for my editor, you gotta write more.
So, what helped me?
The first thing was learning how to write fast. With juggling work and other things, I didn’t just have to make time to write, I had to be efficient at it. So, I bought both the e-books and physical copies of “2K to 10K: Writing Faster” By Rachel Aaron and “5,000 Words per Hour” by Chris Fox. Needless to say, they both provided awesome insight, and I went from several hundred words an hour to thousands. More importantly, however, by measuring and testing, I learned when and where is most comfortable for me to write.
I knew learning how to write fast was useless if I let UNintentional A.D.H.D. interrupt me though. That’s why I had to maximize my discipline next. The solution? Dressing up. I’m not talking about putting on a suit and tie. I’m just referring to freshening yourself up completely before “going to work”. When I first started writing at home, I wrote shirtless in shorts. I thought it was the fine luxury I had of working with the freedom as the next soon-to-be best failing author. And then, I don’t know remember where, but I read how a particular author dressed up to do work, so I tried it. I threw on some jeans, chuck taylors, and a t-shirt on a Saturday morning at home. And holy crap. That was one of the most productive sessions I had. I don’t care if it’s placebo. The moment I tie up those shoelaces is the moment I feel I’m ready to travel a million steps to satisfy my hunger (metaphorically through writing, of course. I don't have enough discipline to walk that much).
Third, I did more than just “read out loud”. Reading my work out loud was the biggest piece of advice that helped my writing. Hell, even as I’m writing this, I’m talking to myself. It’s a reminder to feel the words I write, and sense if it’s really how or what I’d say in a real conversation. When I wrote my manuscript, however, I took it a step further. I took what I learned from my acting classes, and I acted out loud. With each chapter, I stood up and pretended there was a crowd in front of me, and it was my job to narrate. I threw in emotion, body language, words that weren’t even on the text, you name it. When something was obviously too painful to narrate, or I didn’t feel any emotion tied to it, I threw it away and made something new instead.
Lastly, I had to constantly change my perception. When I first started, I read so many authors dreaded the rewrite phase. Because of this, I spent several weeks writing my first draft with that same mentality. I mentally prepared myself to "persevere", but then? I listened to more authors and read more books. Others talked about how magical rewriting can be. How it can be just as fun as writing the first time around, if not more so. And suddenly, my entire mindset changed. I looked forward to every rewrite, looking for redundancies and better ways to say my thoughts. Challenging myself over and over. Looking for more redundancies and even better ways to say my thoughts.
Sooner or later, however, the biggest lesson I learned was that you're gonna have to finish what you started. So, that's what I'm about to do right now. I'm about to click that "post" button and submit this ugly eight draft for the world to see.
And you know what? That's okay. Because in the end, as long as you comple –