When Writing Is Like Pulling Teeth -- Jo Carroll

 Jo Carroll cannot write her post this month. So here's a golden oldie from 2019.



I've begun another novel.

I love the idea (I'm not sharing that yet). I love the research - I've wallowed in books, taken myself off to tramp up hills and down a coal mine. My notebook overflows with lovely characters (and some not so lovely).

So why is it so hard to write? I have distractions - we all have distractions. I prevaricate - thousands of
us prevaricate but still get words down. I make myself sit at the computer almost every day. For the first time I've given myself word count targets. When I wrote The Planter's Daughter I had no need of word count targets. My head was full and the words flowed. The first draft was messy of course, but that was fine. I had something to work with.

And that's what keeps me going now. I dare not reread, not yet - in case the extent of the inevitable messiness puts me off. But if I can only make myself frame this story into real words then I can settle to the months of drafting and redrafting that might make it into something readable.

But it has got me thinking. Why am I making such a meal of this, when the first novel spilled out of me without a hiccup? Am I trying too hard, unconsciously trying to produce perfect sentences when all I really need to do is write the bloody thing? Is this second-book syndrome -- having produced one I feel some pressure to produce another. (Which is bonkers -- nothing terrible will happen if I don't write it.)

Worse -- am I really convinced by the story? Is that the hold-up? But I am -- I know I am. Maybe my characters aren't yet fully formed, but that I can work on. Maybe I'm not yet familiar with my setting -- I can go back to the hills. Do I need to rethink the structure? Maybe -- but until I see what this looks like, I can't answer that. However, deep down, I know I have a story. And a strong enough story to keep a reader entertained for 300 pages.

And that, even when writing is like pulling teeth, is what keeps me going.

While you're waiting for that, do have a read of The Planter's Daughter.


Sandra Horn said…
A great idea to reprise this post from Jo. It still speaks to my condition!
Eden Baylee said…
Hi Jo,

I can relate. Sometimes life happens and priorities change, but that the book is still with you means you will write it.

My first book of 3 came out 2014. I'm still working on book 2.


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