As you probably already know (seriously, I talk about it way too much), I am writing a novel as my graduate school thesis. Honestly, I’d rather be writing a research paper, but I had to go and sign up for the English and Creative Writing program. Which I guess is a good thing, because I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, and, as it turns out, I had no idea what I was doing. (I don’t believe grad school – or even college – is necessary to become a writer – obviously there have been tons of writers who didn’t get any formal or advanced education – but it was definitely something that I needed.) Despite the fact that I hadn’t actually written anything this long before now, I didn’t think it was going to be this difficult. I don’t think I’m ever going to be one of those writers that can write something and immediately love it. Most of the time, I doubt whether I will ever write something I’m 100% happy with. There is so much that goes into writing a novel, and it is a continual learning process.
For the most part, writing this thesis has been a huge struggle. Finding the right words is like pulling teeth. Only, for every ten teeth you pull, only one is the right one. I probably sit in front of the computer – hovering somewhere between crying and screaming – more than I actually write. In one of my most recent thesis submissions (a 5,000 word chunk), I flailed around for the first thousand or so words. My story was going nowhere, and I will probably end up rewriting most of that section. I’m not a planner or outliner (even when I try, things tend to get away from me), and I went into this project with only vague ideas of the beginning and ending. I’m still on track for the ending I have in my head, but the middle of this book was/is a complete mystery to me.
So I wrote bullshit just to write something. And then an idea hit me. And everything made sense. I knew where I was going, and what I needed to go back and change. I had something to write, and – dare I say it? – I actually liked it. When it happened again a few thousand words later, I was amazed. Granted, I was seriously sleep deprived and running off of caffeine fumes at that point, but maybe that’s what allowed my mind to relax and let some of those useful crazy ideas in, which I’m terrible at doing most of the time. Instead of finding ways to shoot down my own ideas, I went with them (because I had no other option), and it was amazing.
This is the first moment I’ve had writing my thesis where I actually feel great about what I’m doing. The writing muses have shined down upon me for the first time, and I feel like I can keep going.
Have you ever had a “eureka moment” while writing? What are some tips you have to keep writing when it’s a struggle?