Writing a Book: A Matter of Trust

I was reminded recently of just how much trust is involved in writing a book. I'm now revising my second novel. Looking back on the completed draft, where thousands of words are all strung together to form a story, it's easy to forget how all of that started with just an idea.

When I start with an idea, I don't fully know the entire trajectory of the story. I know the question I'm wanting answered, I know the conflict, and I have a sense of the setting, but I'm yet to get to know the supporting characters of the story, and I don't have a clear handle on the main characters either. I cement some knowledge about them before starting to write, but then I try to let their personalities come alive on the page. I like them to surprise me. In knowing some parts of the story, but not knowing others, a great deal of trust is involved in letting the characters and the events in the story unfold for 80,000 or so words. When I'm writing the beginning, it's sometimes hard not to fret about the middle. When I reach the middle, it's hard for me to trust that everything will come together for the ending.

What I've realised, is that in order to reach The End, that point where you can look back on your story and tie up loose ends, strengthen character actions and motivations, bring out the setting and emotion a little more, while getting a grasp on the themes of the book (some of which you might have never intended to have there in the first place), an enormous amount of trust is involved.





// Follow the idea, no matter how silly it might seem. Nudge the box open, peek into the dark corners, fumble around and sooner or later you might find something special in there.

// Everything is revisable. This is something that the perfectionist in me has had to work very hard to embrace. It's comforting knowing that you can always make things better in a subsequent draft. You can see things much more clearly once you have a full draft in hand. As tempting as it is to pause midway, just keep going. You'll be able to fix things later.

// Trust that you will reach the end. Even when THE END feels far away and so far out of reach you begin to question whether you'll ever get there, know that you will get there in your own time and at the right time if you keep showing up. Showing up is key. 

// Trust your characters. Often when I'm writing, I don't have all the answers. I don't know why characters appear in my story or what role they have when they show up. Which can be especially frustrating because anyone that shows up needs to count, be heard, or earn their place in the story. Trust that you will find a way to tie up the loose knots and plot holes at some point, even if during revision or a rewrite. Often, I'm surprised at how things seem to slot in at the end, as if I've been building the foundations for things to go a certain way without intending them to. 

// Trust your voice. Avoid comparisons, and let the words come out without censoring. To find your voice, you need to be able to give yourself the space to write the way you write. The more you practice, the more you'll feel comfortable with it.

I'd love to know about your experiences. Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook!