Building the Structural Foundation
When I write, I have a plot sketched out in my mind and sometimes laying out the groundwork can be laborious and even boring. It’s essential, though, that I push my way through the initial drudgery and progress to the middle and the end of the story. When I finally type “The End,” I know I’m deluding myself. It’s only the end of the beginning.
Usually at that point I am weary of the story and put it aside for a while. When I return to it, I’m refreshed and often surprised that the story I left dissatisfied with wasn’t as bad as I thought. I note the good and the bad and especially the ugly. Some hard work remains, but I’m reasonably optimistic because I know the foundation has been laid. Avoid complacency, though. Honesty is required. Is that line I like so much really worth keeping? Is it adding anything, or as happens sometimes, is it making me work harder in other places just to keep it in? Other times I find that paragraphs I disliked and left in only so I could get to the end are more necessary to my story than those parts I salivated over when I wrote them.
Still a lot of work ahead, but never let that intimidate you. The story works for you, not you for it. Never be afraid to leave it for a few days. Ever have trouble remembering a word or phrase? You give up after a while and just say the hell with it. Then a day or so later the answer pops into your mind. Psychologists will tell you that while your conscious dismissed it, your subconscious continued to work the problem. Writing is that way, too. Get stuck on something, discouraged, just plain tired? Give it a rest. A solution will come to you.
At some point during this stop-and-go process, hopefully early on, you’ll find your attitude has changed. No longer is the story like the sword of Damocles hanging over you; enjoyment is starting to rear its welcome head. That’s when the story really starts to come together. You’ll know it, you’ll feel it, and very much look forward to getting into it. And that’s when you’ll do your best writing.
So, get the heavy lifting done first. Revision can be the fun part.