For the last two weeks I've been meticulously stressing over details of my WIP. I'm not even talking about word choice (I won't even let myself go there yet.). I'm constantly doubting, and second guessing my choices. Should I pick one central protagonist? Or push forward with my feeling that there are two? Are their POVs balanced? Is my setting developed? Do I have to many additional characters? Are my main protagonists fleshed out enough? Is the romance even working?
One corkboard of index cards later, I knew I needed a new perspective.
A lot of writers recommend taking a break. Taking time off from the story. This isn't always the solution for me. When I first wrote this manuscript nearly 3 years ago, I had to put it down for some of the very same issues I'm fretting over now. If 3 years isn't enough shelf time to separate myself from these issues, no amount of time will be.
When I talk to some of my friends, they're advice is to just keep writing. Keep telling the story and worry about that during revision. Well this is revision. I have the story done. I'm trying to iron out kinks. Smooth over the rough draft. What is there to keep writing? AHG!
So I did something different. I sucked it up and sent the mess of a 3rd draft to some alpha readers - the lovely ladies I met through Camp Nano in July. Many of us writers have heard of beta readers, those wonderful critiquers who point out all the plot holes so we can cement them in. A beta reader should only be reading a draft once you've reached the point where you can see nothing wrong. A alpha reader is more or less someone who can keep you on track. Someone to run a messy draft, a preliminary idea by, that will let the writer know if she's on track or not. They offer general ideas and suggestions, knowing you're probably aware of the nitty gritty of revision you still have to complete.
So far, it has given me some perspective. I'm clearly worrying about POV entirely too much. I'm trying to pit all the rules of writing I've been taught against my storytelling instinct. Letting others read it is allowing me to get over that hurdle. Yes, my story can be successful while having 2 POVs.
Instead I know I need to focus on some world-building and exposition. Make sure all my plants are in place and clear. These are things I thought I had succeeded at, but, I hadn't.
Writing cannot be a solitary art form. This is in part due to the fact that in order to be a novelist, you need readers. I mean that's the point isn't it? The writer has a story to tell, but she needs the reader to hear it. Writing is the the medium of expression.
Locking myself up in my office and obsessing over details and lessons was becoming detrimental not only to my story, but to my mental state. I felt lost and hopeless, and all my confidence in my project ptttph out like a deflating balloon. I needed that outside prospective to keep me on track.
And this Panic! At the Disco Song to jam out to.