It’s never too late to start over. The original plan after graduation was to turn my thesis back into the novel it was on the way to becoming. At the time I was working on a novel of linked stories and to comply with thesis requirements I had to choose three to present. After thesis when I began to put it back into its original format I realized I no longer liked the way it was laid out. Not only that, I had grown as a writer and my characters had matured. So basically, I started from the beginning.
Many writers cringe when they look at their old writings. I started by separating what I liked about what I had written from what needed to be discarded, and now I’m in the process of rebuilding the story.
For me, the most difficult part of writing is self-judgment. I’m my harshest critic. I learned at a young age to aim for perfection, but in writing, as in life, perfection does not exist. Unfortunately, this habit of harshly criticizing my own work produced writers block and delayed the progression of my work.
I was pleased to discover I’m not the only writer with this habit. I follow @thewritelife on Twitter and saw their blog post “The Real Source of Writer’s Block (And and Exercise to Beat It).” The post recalled how as children we effortlessly told stories because our audience mainly consisted of our parents. As we grew older we became aware of a larger audience and doubt settled in, which produces writers block.
To combat writers block the author recommends a five-minute free writing session before you begin to write. During the five minutes you are encouraged to purge your thoughts onto the page. The purpose of this exercise is to find your writer’s voice in a judgment-free place so that you can once again capture that childlike spirit of producing judgment-free work (that will one day be harshly judged by others). The exercise may seem menial at first, but if you stick with it, eventually when you do start writing again you’ve stopped judging your work enough to write freely.
I have not tried this technique, but definitely plan to do so. I have a novel to finish.