BTS004, Struggling with Productivity
In this episode of my behind-the-scenes video diary, I share my experience of struggling with productivity as a writer and my process of revising and editing a novel. This episode isn’t a confession, I get to the source of the problem. The source of my unproductive months is fear of failure. There’s a huge part of me that is afraid of handing my manuscript to a developmental editor. Just like me, you don’t have to live with the fear of failure as a writer. You can change your author mindset. In this episode, I show you the exact steps you need to take to change your author mindset.
A Personal Update
As I’m recording this episode of the Behind the Scenes podcast diary, I’m at the beautiful Palace Hotel in San Francisco. So, if you hear a little background noise, it’s because the hotel is along Market Street. But hopefully, you’re thinking “what background noise?” which means I’ve managed to edit it out in post-production. Roland is visiting work colleagues, and I’m tagging along due to the location independence of my businesses. I’m loving San Francisco. It’s quite an eclectic city. San Francisco feels like a collection of different people groups merging together. Every block seems to have a different feel.
Roland and I arrived a few days ago, and I’m feeling a bit tired. You can probably hear it in my voice. But, I need to record podcast episodes and create content for my businesses. I aim to work in the morning and do a bit of sightseeing in the evening. So, I’m not all work and no play.
I’m going to keep this episode short and to the point, and under 10 minutes. As I’m creating this episode, I’m starting to feel a little worn out. Although, that could be the jet lag talking. But, I”m in San Francisco, so I should take advantage of the sunlight because next week I’ll be in Munich and Strasbourg. Now, that I’ve mentioned it, I have a pretty packed travelling schedule ahead of me for December.
Creation of the Heavy Fiction Edit
After I finished the first draft of Immunity, I struggled to figure out how to revise my novel. This struggle led to the creation of a revision system to help me go from the first draft to a polished draft ready for the next phase, which is a developmental editor. The revision system I created is called the Heavy Fiction Edit. This system allows me to edit in phases. I read through the manuscript looking for a particular plot or writing element, make notes then go back and make changes. This revision technique was designed to help avoid overwhelm. And, it did achieve this goal at first.
Struggling With Productivity
But, I’ve been struggling with revising Immunity over the last months. At first, I thought it was a butt in the chair issue. I have a looming deadline, but this has made no difference to my productivity. I’ve also had a series of unproductive months in September, October and now November. Although, October was a significantly better month. So sharing my goals with you seemed to have helped with my productivity levels.
Fear and The Writer
I’m starting to wonder if I’m just exhausted, and need a holiday.Then, I dug a little deeper and discovered there’s also an issue of fear lurking around in the background. There is a part of me that is a little scared of handing my work to a developmental editor. Now, that I’ve said this out loud another question starts to surface. So, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Up until now, no one has seen the full manuscript. Roland has read a few chapters that I’ve had concerns about but not the full book. I guess I’m afraid that I’m going to hear that I don’t have a story or no one is going to be interested in James Lalonde.
At this point my inner writing coach needs to point out that an editor pointing out where the story isn’t working is the point of editing and an editor who is worth their weight in gold will do this. Ironically, this is what you need from an editor. My worst nightmare should be a pat on the back and nothing to change. An editor can point out what is hot in the genre at the moment, but only a reader can tell me if they want to read more about my protagonist.
The second part of my fear is based on marketing. This leads me to point out that I’m writing the book I want to read, but it’s in a genre that has demand. So in essence, I need to put my book in front of the right audience who read similar books to me. I know marketing is something I will struggle with in the future. Knowing this weakness exists means I can create a marketing plan for my book and preempt this issue before it becomes a problem.
Getting to the Source of the Problem
When I wrote the first draft, I was excited and confident that I had a great story idea that people would love to read. So, what happened between now and then? Why did I change so dramatically? Before I started writing the first draft, I did an extensive outline. I built an idea of what the final version of the book would read like in my mind. I know I’ve said this before, but the difference between my current version of Immunity and my vision for the final product is dramatically different.
What I need is a mindset change. I need to stop comparing the manuscript I have to that vision. It isn’t helping or inspiring me. This vision achieving the exact opposite of what I intended. It’s derailing my progress. The most important question I need to ask myself is this: Is this version of Immunity better than the last? Why is this question so important? I cannot achieve the vision that I have for Immunity on my own. I need the help of other professionals and readers to achieve this.
When it comes to revision, this is the only thing that matters.
The reason why I’m sharing this with you is I know I’m not the only writer who struggles with this type of insecurity.
Are you struggling with revision?
Are you struggling with insecurity or fear as a writer?
The next time you find yourself avoiding working on your manuscript, I want you to ask yourself this question. Why am I avoiding working on my manuscript? Write down all the answers that come to mind, no matter how crazy or insignificant they may seem. This is essentially a journaling exercise. You’ll find that when you do this, the first few answers are just surface level. As you keep listing answers you will get to the truth behind your actions. You will know the truth because it will resonate with you.
Is the reason why you’re avoiding revision or writing fear based? If so, ask yourself this question; what is the worst thing that could happen? Now, I’m going to ask you to do something brave. I want to hear from you. Share your story with writers insecurity in the comments section below this post. I want you to realise that you’re not alone.
I hope you have a great week and happy writing and reading!