The Beauty in the Dull

Now that we’re a couple of weeks into the WWF, I wanted to share a few quick thoughts on persistence. This is the stage where the initial enthusiasm might be starting to wear off and the daily push for words has become a bit…well, slog-ish.

We’ve all been there. And without trying to be a total downer, we’ll all be there again. The bright shiny idea that drew us to the keyboard like a magnet has dulled a bit and there…off in the distance….why right there is the glimmer of a newer, brighter, shinier object than the one we’re working on.

Resist, my lovelies. Resist it with all of your might.

Here’s the thing about bright shiny objects. They’re bright and shiny because we haven’t put our muddy paws all over them and started to shake them up a bit. The bright shinies haven’t been through the bullshit test yet. Will that plot hold? If my hero does that in chapter two can he really overcome it in chapter eight? If my heroine’s conflict is about something that happened in her past, is it really weighty enough to keep her apart from my hero?

These questions and so many others are the ones we answer during the course of writing a novel. They’re good questions – honest questions – and they’re the same questions our readers will ask of us if we don’t figure them out.

They’re also hard.

These questions make us take stock of our bright shiny idea and twist it around a bit. See a few places that aren’t just dulled by our muddy handling of it but might actually be black holes of plot errors that need to die (or get murdered) out of our pages.

But here’s the thing. Every time I look at my manuscript in progress and think it is at its worst – it’s dull, lifeless and the dumbest idea I’ve ever had (and I want to Thelma and Louise off my characters as fast as humanly possible) – I remember that I’ve gotten through it before. This is part of the process and, in the inimitable words of Nora Roberts:

“Writing is never easy. If it wasn’t hard, everybody would do it. You know, like baseball.”

So embrace the hard. Stick with the idea you’re writing. Keep on keeping on. That bright shiny object in the distance will wait for you. And the one you’re working on – that dull, lifeless thing that was shiny once – it’s going to be a jewel once you’re done with it. Just give it the love, care and attention that only you can.

Happy Writing!!


13 responses to “The Beauty in the Dull”

  1. Thank you, sister! I needed to hear this. I’m in the second pass of an old project, which still needs an ending, and it seems dull. I know part of the reason is the new characters and plot I’m beginning to sketch out. I’m going to only allow myself to think of the newbie on days that II’ve scheduled off and for the next four weeks, rub and polish this wip into a story it can be.

    Thank you for the inspiration.

  2. Beth Trissel says:

    This is sooooo me. Thanks for the insights and encouragement.

  3. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    Good words for me this morning. Started out well on the sprints this AM but became unfocused while looking up some info. That did it! Had only a couple of hours to work this morn but hopefully will be able to get back this afternoon when done with errands.

    Thanks so much!

  4. Emily Allen says:

    Thank you for the insight and encouragement. I’ve been having a real had time focusing on my writing, but after reading this, I’m thinking I can do it.

    Thank you for the inspiration.

  5. Thanks, Addison, for the encouraging words! I’m slogging through revision right now, and there’s not too much shiny. 🙂 Glad to know I’m not alone.

  6. Rita Henuber says:

    Well, this past week I got honest with myself and ditched 12000 words I’d written on a novella because I asked those kind of questions. O. The characters, setting, and story arc are there and will remain the same. But now they are not so boring. I’m loving it. Aren’t we lucky to be writers?

  7. THANK YOU, Addison! I’ve been stuck in my-God-this-book-is-boring for a while and it’s killing my confidence. I can make it fun later! (And will probably discover that it’s already fun.) But I need to keep going. Thank you for reminding me to slog on. 🙂


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