Writing A Novel One Day At A Time

I’m writing my new novel, hoping that this will be the book I get published. So far, I’ve only been setting myself up to write, really; organising my initial thoughts about what my main character is like, blocking out some chapter ideas and possible directions for the flow of the story. Writing a first chapter to get the feel of the voice I’ll use.

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I am the kind of writer who doesn’t know what’s going to happen until I write it.This works very well for me, and keeps my excited about the book all the way to the last word. Sometimes it means I have to go back and rewrite entire sections of the book, because the freedom I allow myself can take me in new and completely unexpected directions. The funny thing is that when I read back over my writing, I can hardly see where I stopped one day and started the next. I find this amazing. My moods can be so radically different from even hour to hour, but my writing stays fairly well on course.

My daily task is to write 2000 words, and I aim to start writing in the morning and not stop until I have my word count. Some days it takes two hours and some days it takes much longer, but I find that if I make my goal a word count, I can distract myself very efficiently from the self questioning and doubts.

My tried and true, best ever trick to ward off what they call ‘writers block’ is to sit at my laptop and type these words; It’s really hard to write today because… and then I keep on with that, listing every single thing that is pulling at me to prevent me from writing that day.

Some days I write pages of reasons why it’s so hard to write, and other days I write just a phrase that encapsulates my not-writing mood so well, it propels me into a writing head-space. I think this habit is almost a meditation. My inner writer knows with certainty that we are sitting here to write, and write we will, so let’s get writing the story.

Of course there are times when I need to pause and reflect, ponder, muse, stare into space and let the possible paths of the story play out in my imagination. This is completely essential to the process of writing a solid first draft. Also, I keep a notebook and pen with me at all times, because thoughts will come to me at any time of the night or day, informing my choices about plot, characterization, theme. I can be having coffee with someone and they’ll say something that totally answers a question I had about the story.

A writing mentor told me years ago that I have a very organic process. This is such an awesome way of saying I do whatever I want in my process, as long as it writes the book. I’ve written a whole book sitting up in bed, a few hours each morning. That one took me 13 weeks. I wrote another book with my laptop on my lap, watching cartoons each day. That one took 9 weeks.

This book I think I’ll be writing right here, on my cheap little laptop table on wheels, in my living room, probably watching a lot of DVDs like Law and Order, Six Feet Under, and The Mentalist.

My psychiatrist encouraged me to write. Some of the most prolific writers in the world have struggled with mental illness. Writing is certainly the only thing I’ve ever found in my life that I can do, no matter where my head is at. It’s my refuge. Published or not, I’m enjoying being back in a book again. It’s such familiar territory. I’m truly looking forward to seeing what my characters do next.

be you xx Rachel

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A New Shrink, A New Diagnosis, and New Meds

Hi. I hope I get to upload this blog post. The last two I’ve written were just too graphic and I didn’t want anyone reading them who might be triggered by such brutal honesty. Self harming has been a part of my life for a very long time, but photo’s of what I’d done to myself a few weeks ago were not right for my blog.

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It’s taken me a week to try to blog again, and I do have some news. On Tuesday I saw my new psychiatrist for the first time. He was nice, precise, questioning, listening, knowledgeable, and to my surprise, very open to being questioned about his opinions. That goes a long way with me. I detest ego for ego’s sake, and so to find a psydoc who is very human; this is a big deal to me.

My psychiatrist, I’ll call him Pdoc, says I have Borderline Personality Disorder and gave me a website address so I can read all about it and see what I think. He prescribed new meds, to be taken with my old anxiety/depression meds. The new meds are anti-psychotics and after taking only two doses, I feel very different. Dopey, dizzy, level, and the auditory and visual hallucinations have disappeared. This is a very good thing. I can hear myself think for a change. People love to say they can’t hear themselves think, but I want to say spend a day in my busy, noisy head and then come and tell me how hard it is to think.

This BPD is for life, apparently, and can explain the range of my symptoms. The meds have me flying low, thinking slow and I’m only on the lowest dosage. The dose will get bigger in the next few months.

I like the sound of my own inner voice. I’ve hardly heard it, all my life. Too many instructions from the voices, often about how useless or worthless or ready to commit suicide I am, in their opinion. Now I am having this weird experience where I start to think about what I will do next in my day, and I am able to keep on thinking about that and act on the thoughts. The dull, numbing effects of the meds are making me slow, very slow, and I am taking my time with everything I do, but not in my usual frenetic way.

Pdoc says it can take a while to get the meds right, and I’ll never be my old manic self again while I’m on them. I hope I can live with that. Two days in and I’m still in the honeymoon phase, the I’m happy not to be planning my own demise and that’s all that matters right now, phase. I’m not sure how much I’m going to like being slow-minded in the longer term, though. I’m used to bursts of energy to try to get things done, followed by little or no activity at all. This steady, slow, dopey head I’m wearing today is new territory.

I doubt I’ll be able to do calculus again, but maybe I can write the new book that’s on my mind. Slowly.

Time to take my meds and go to bed now. I’ll upload this post before I overthink it too much.

be you xx Rachel