conquering challenges

As a writer, you’re constantly challenging yourself to try new things. New formats, new styles, new concepts. Pushing yourself out of the comfort zone you’ve built for yourself. It’s how we grow as writers – the risks we take either improve us, or show us where our weaknesses lie (arguably, that’s also a form of self-improvement: identifying what we’re not so good at is as valuable as honing our existing skills.)

Anyway, the point is: I finished the bloody novella.

I had no idea how difficult something like this could be. You’re aiming for balance: you can’t cram in a novels’ worth of story (which was why my first draft was terrible) but you have to have enough content to keep the story moving, and the pace regular. It was a huge challenge for me, having never written a novella before (in fact, I have never actually completed a novel. I’ve come close, but I always let myself get discouraged. Pushing through the ‘oh god this is irredeemable rubbish’ phase was another hard lesson to learn – a great many sleepless nights and moments in which throwing the laptop through the window seemed like a good idea.)

Now, the most terrifying step of all: critique. Picking up plotholes, inconsistencies and things which just don’t work. I’m hoping very hard that there won’t be too many of these, because I’ve spent so long fretting about this project that I can’t justifiably spend too much more time polishing it up. Months of editing has found me in a place where I can read back over what I’ve written and think ‘well, this isn’t too bad at all.’ I just hope that’s not wishful thinking and overconfidence on my part!

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