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  • Writer's pictureKait

Act 3 Struggles - Writing Update


Welp. Here's somewhat of a non update for my writing projects. It's the middle of April and I've been working on the second developmental edit of my dystopian fantasy novel, The Last Firstborn, all year so far. It hurts me to say that. It was supposed to be done (according to my totally arbitrary schedule) in mid-March. I worked up to about the 80% mark by the end of February. I was ahead of schedule for a little while. I was even working through some beta feedback as I went. 

And then I hit Act 3 and something just broke in my brain. Idk. Just snapped. Words, and then, just, not words. Where did they go? What happened? It was like I'd never written a story in my life. I had all these ideas, knew of some changes I wanted to make to the end. I had all the notes I was supposed to have. And then I sat down to edit and the work I needed to do grew and grew and grew into this insurmountable problem. I genuinely considered just starting a new novel rather than finish editing that last 20%. What is wrong with me? 

And the worst part of is that I knew that was going to happen. I always struggle with the ends of stories. I expected my progress to slow down, and so I was patient with myself. I kept showing up, I kept going to writing group, I kept trying to work on it throughout my work day. Friends, I made zero progress. I deleted a chapter and a half, which did feel good, but then I just stared at the draft. For a month. Perhaps time is skewing itself in my memory slightly, but I do think I've been on the same chapter for a month. 

It's like the first moment of friction, where I didn't know exactly how to tackle a problem, my brain just shrugged and walked away. And I'd already been working so hard on this project for two months. I think if I'd just taken a purposeful break at that point, I could have jumped back in. But the devil on my shoulder was saying "You're so close to the end. Just power through and get it off your plate." Which sounded very sensible. "Close the loop; it's only satisfying when you close the loops." Yeah, yeah. 

Well. I shouldn't have done that. I should have taken a break, re-read the material, done some brainstorming, and come back with a fresh mind. I should have listened to myself when, after two months on the same project, I thought, "Two months is really about the extent of my attention span for this." 

I didn't listen; I kept pushing, and now I'm burned out as hell on a project I love. 

Now I'm taking a break, working on smaller stories, and trying to refill my creative well. But how much longer am I going to have to take than if I'd just listened to myself over a month ago? 

There's such a fine balance between allowing yourself the creative space to take breaks and being "too permissive" with your time and getting nothing done. At least for me. Sometimes I get trapped in the opposite mode where I'm just "refilling the well" by doom scrolling on the couch every night. 

"But it's self-care doom scrolling," she whines. 

Folks, don't be like me. Listen to yourself. Novels are big projects and brains need the dopamine of finishing things. Take breaks. If you sit down and try to work--genuinely try for twenty minutes--and nothing is happening, take a break! Work on a smaller project, or a non-writing project. Don't doom scroll. 

(This is all meant for me to come back and read myself at some point in the future, when I make the same damn mistake all over again.) 

I hope your creative journey is going better than mine has the last few weeks. <3

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