Tag Archives: editing

Dominating Thoughts and Achieving

12 Mar



Two weeks ago, a forceful crisis of confidence took hold and set me back about six weeks in terms of my writing. I spent a sorry week restructuring my story, reworking my scenes, changing the plot direction and the fundamental motivations of my characters. As I worked frantically to resolve the issues that arose in my manuscript, I began to seriously doubt that my story had any other value beyond being a story that I felt compelled to write and that I wanted to read as a reader. Failure seeped into my thoughts and I became so anxious at the thought that perhaps I had dedicated so much of my time and efforts over the past year to something that may turn out to be an unworkable disaster.

When the fear peaked to this advanced state of realization that I may have wasted so much time on something so speculative, I clung tightly to a quote by Napoleon Hill – ”You are but the sum of your dominating or most prominent thoughts.”  It’s a pretty famous quote from his book ‘The Law of Success in Sixteen Lessons’ published in 1928. The theory is similar to the law of attraction and positive thinking, but no quote on this topic has held more resonance for me than Napoleon Hill’s.

Every morning when I got up – daunted by the writing task at hand for the day – I repeated this quote over and over in my mind. If I allowed myself to dwell on the fear that my manuscript to date was so flawed that it was beyond saving, I would descend into panic and desolation. I had to be convinced that my manuscript was save-able, even as the further I went into the editing, the worse the structural problems seemed to get.  The knock-on effect resulting from the alteration of a simple piece of dialogue or the tweaking of one action or response almost toppled me into the sea of self-doubt.

I developed two personalities over these two weeks. One personality kept telling me that I would complete my novel, that it would all work out in the end, that I was right to dedicate serious time and effort into the project and that it would not all be the biggest mistake I ever made. The other personality told me I would regret wasting the past fourteen months, that I had wrongly steered myself into a perilous financial situation because of my commitment to the project and that I was naive to think I could call myself an aspiring novelist, never mind that anyone might read what I wrote.

Napoleon Hill kept me going, solidified a steely determination within me so as not to allow the negative thoughts dominate my thinking. I completed all the restructuring and I’m now well on my way to completing a much better story all round (for now anyway), streets ahead of where it was five weeks ago. Strangely, something innocuous also happened around the same time to assure me I kept focused on the positive thoughts. I developed an irrational fear that I was going to wake up one morning to find a spider on my pillow as I lay in bed. And you guessed it, three weeks later I woke up to find a spider on my pillow, a bit unsure as to why he was there.

I’m sticking with Napoleon.


Main Image via here

Over the New Year Writing & Editing Rainbow

10 Jan


This is where I spent the afternoon of New years Day 2013 – Loughcrew, Co. Meath. I needed some inspiration to push me through the phase II editing on my novel’s manuscript. It had been a tough few weeks and I was experiencing some sort of ‘creativity block’.

I needed to see clearly and far into the distance, so I climbing to the top of the old megalithic passage grave at Loughcrew – which is over 5,000 years old. Far below me, the beautiful Meath countryside swept around for miles and miles from the breathtaking 360 degree view point. The wind swiftly grabbed the cobwebs from my head and the awe-inspiring view opened my mind and eyes into the distance, shifting my internal visual perspective.

I just wasn’t expecting to see this beautiful inspirational rainbow in the untouchable distance! I managed to capture it on camera before it lost its tenuous grasp on the January air and faded away into the misty afternoon. I couldn’t have wished for better.

I returned home that evening invigorated and refreshed – and totally enchanted by the rainbow. It was the perfect ray of hope to encourage me to keep going, to get over the hurdles I had hit with my writing and to have trust in what I was doing.

I rejigged my writing timetable, clearly setting out the targets I needed to achieve in the coming weeks. And guess what, it worked. I have completed my plot and scene restructure, editing all my scenes into a more compelling story so that they drive my plot and characters forward. Let the stage II rewriting begin.

Thank you for the inspiration Mother Nature!


Critique Time

15 Oct


What a long hiatus from Blogsville! Three months later, my manuscript has finally made it into the hands of an esteemed critiquer for an evaluation. My heart is in my mouth, finally.

When I finished my first draft manuscript in April, I was sure that 2 months away from it – away from the pages & pages and chapters of words that had poured from me relentlessly over 3 months – would give me adequate time to switch off from the story itself.  It had been all-consuming. My thinking was that a  good break would allow me to stand back from the project, allow the manuscript to breath and then, hopefully I would be able to  read it objectively.

Read-through 1 & 2 still evoked the same raw, intense emotions within me that I felt when I was writing it. Reading it still evoked deep emotional responses, almost like I was still living through what I had written. I cried at some parts and became emotionally distressed after reading other parts. I wasn’t ready yet, that was for sure.

By mid summer, I was ready to throw the entire thing out the window, and my laptop along with it. Then my laptop died. I was sure this was a sign to leave the manuscript to rest longer. I hated most of what I wrote and cringed when I read most of the early chapters while the rest was in disarray.

On the third reading of the manuscript, I abandoned the task mid-way through in exasperation. Who was I kidding, I thought, I can’t write.  The 350 printed-out pages that represented my blood, sweat and tears where then stuffed into a box and forcefully shoved into the dark under the bed. I wasn’t anyway close to being ready.

Another month later, I tried again. By chapter 19, I wanted to cut half of what I wrote out of sheer frustration. Back into the box. It was then I decided to switch off completely – I didn’t read, I didn’t watch movies, I didn’t write, I just lived. I forgot about the manuscript under my bed and just enjoyed the late summer months of festivals, BBQ’s and long summer evenings.

‘One day’ my friend said around late August, ‘it will all just become words on a page.’ Would it I thought? Would I ever get to a point where I could read my manuscript past all the emotional connection – read it without reliving everything?

Five months after I finished the first draft manuscript and when eventually all the fear had finally passed, I pulled the box out from under the bed. I got myself a glass of red wine. took a deep breath and began to read. What I found was a story that was real, a story that was from the heart and a story that moved me. Some parts were awful, some parts surprised me but some parts struck me so forcefully that I know I would not be able to write them now. Had I reached that place where I could read it outside myself?

The break had worked it seemed, as I was finally was able to see the story for what it was – a work in progress. And I was excited again and that can only be a good thing. After a few weeks work on rewriting and editing, my first draft was finally ready to be torn apart.

Now I just have to wait for my editors letter….and start all over again!




Main Image via here


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