Ever written the draft of a novel and on reading it through said “this does not sound like the story in my head.”
There are 5 stages to this situation:
- Book Idea Euphoria. You enter an initial stage of book idea euphoria after coming up with a sparkling new concept for a book. There is a spring in your step and a twinkle in your eye as you stew this literary beauty over in your mind. It’s such a good story that you find yourself becoming light-headed and a little unsteady at the sheer thought of it. Every time you think about it a little voice in your head says ‘I can see this being turned into a film!’ Gasp! Cue faraway look!
- Mind takeover. This new book idea takes over your mind. Gone are your day-to-day thoughts about what you are going to wear tomorrow, how your blog stats are shaping up, the amount of steps you took last week and who on Facebook shares your love of a soft egg with toast soldiers. This new idea consumes you. Every waking hour is spent thinking about your idea and playing it out in your head. The more and more you mentally visualise it the better it gets. It is going to sound great on paper. Cue the Booker prize daydream which you quickly upgrade into the film premiere daydream. Gasp!
- Writing Graft. You roll up your literary sleeves and get to work on turning your sparkling new idea into a literary masterpiece. This stage can take weeks, months or even years. You whip up a rough outline, but you tell yourself that you don’t really need a plan as this gem in your head will write itself. Whilst slaving away at the literary coal face you keep replaying the story in your head and this leads to some quiet moments staring into space. My goodness this book is going to be amazing! It was jaw dropping stuff in your head so imagine what it will do on paper?
- Changeling. You read back your draft and…..it sounds nothing like the story in your head! Your little voice remains silent. Scream! You come to the quick conclusion that what you are holding in your hands is a literary changeling! Someone has cruelly swapped your earth shattering, jaw dropping, destined to be blockbuster movie, literary masterpiece for something very different. This was not how you imagined it to read. By now you should be feeling exhilarated and doing some victory air punches. Instead you are holding something which has left you feeling confused and numb. In some parts that you read you didn’t even recognise the story that was being played out in your head. Cue tears, onset of a low mood, creative breakdown and the start of long-term creative disappointment.
- Acceptance. After a lot of tears, solitary walks in the rain, emails to writing friends, frantic pinning on Pinterest about how cruel life can be, virtual hugs and hours of creative soul-searching you accept the fact that your draft doesn’t sound like the idea in your head. It needs further work. You need to revisit your plan and structure notes. Ask yourself some tough questions – where did it all go wrong? Was it the lack of planning that made it go off course? Did you get carried away again? Did you make enough notes on what was going on in your head? It hurts you to say this but your draft needs overhauling.
It’s terrible when this happens. Writing can be crushing sometimes.
Why does everything sound amazing in my head?
Take care out there writers!
photo credit: Upsplash