Giving Birth to Fiction and Overcoming Transition

Writing a novel is a bit like birthing a child – you spend months and months growing your project, devoting untold hours in nurturing and supporting it, trying to make it the best possible creation you can.  This is no easy feat.  As you write you will often find yourself considering your little burgeoning masterpiece as a mirror, a reflection of you.  And if you suffer from any self-doubts, you will  find yourself faced with the eternal questions of “What am i doing?” or “This sucks, why did I ever think I could do this?”

When I hit that point (usually once I’ve devoted days, weeks and months to a project) I inevitably consider dumping the project and going onto a new, fresh story that is still perfect in my mind.  Reality is never as exciting as what you imagine, isn’t that the challenging part of writing?  Taking the work of art you have in your head and somehow translating that into something on paper that resembles the original in any way.

I call this point Transition, and this is the hardest part of writing a novel.  This is when you doubt yourself, you doubt everything you’ve done this far, you wonder why you ever started, you want to quit…this part of the writing process inevitably results in cursing and moodiness that your significant other will (if they’re smart) keep silent about.

The secret to overcoming transition is remarkably similar to how you overcome it in childbirth…you just keep going.  Fortunately for the human race, when a woman enters into transition during labour, she has no choice but to continue, nature demands that baby will be exiting and there’s really not much you can do about it.

Unfortunately, it’s a lot harder for a writer to continue when everything in them is telling them they are wasting their time, embarrassing themselves and should quit while they’re ahead.  This is almost like there’s a little devil sitting on your shoulder while you labour away, whispering in your ear every thirty seconds “You suck.”

Writers need to tell that devil to eff off and get on with their labour.


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