A blog experiment by Brad Mills.


Mental blocks

Yesterday I went through my first draft and gathered most of the notes I made on it into one place. It made for a very long day. I started in the morning and went at it until bedtime with a few breaks in between. When I was done, my brain had completely shut down — quite literally incapable of going any further without rest. I don't think I've ever done that to myself before... it was a bizarre feeling.

It was a very real thing, an unwillingness to continue that was so absolute I knew not to even try pushing myself further. I'm glad it happened, simply because it helped me realize I do have a limit, and trying to go beyond it is probably bad. Recovery, fortunately, is rapid — just step away for awhile, get a night's rest, and back at it again the next day... which is exactly how it happened.

So I finished it off this evening, and the second draft can now begin in earnest. I'm guessing (hoping?) this phase will be finished around the middle of April. Although this is kind of a rewrite, it's not going to be at as frantic a pace as November was because the bulk of the material has already been written. Rather, this is a reworking of weak sections, moving things around so they work better, merging parts which are similar, and removing anything which simply doesn't belong. I heard once that the first draft is for the writer, whereas the second draft is for the reader — so this step is just as, if not more, important.

They're all important, I guess, but having made the first big step on this journey, I feel like making the next one is especially important to round things out properly... balance the scales. To put it another way: Currently, I think it's a pretty good story and I enjoy it. The goal now is to turn it into a pretty good story in the general sense so others may enjoy it. Or... everyone! (Ha.)

You know... a part of me is tempted to put a small excerpt of this thing online somewhere, even at this early stage. I even have a particular section in mind. I'm holding back, and that's a whole different kind of mental block. I know it's one I must surpass, because if I'm at the phase of "turning it into a pretty good story in the general sense" — well, there's got to be a reason behind that, you know? And that reason is to eventually get it in front of others' eyes. If that's the eventual goal... then if a small part is ready to go and I feel good about it, there's really no reason to hold it back, at least no valid reason.

But that mental block. It's the immovable object to my irresistible force. This is an old old debate, and I always think it's resolved, and it always comes back. I understand it's not uncommon among scribes, so at least there's that... but that really doesn't change the situation for me. And putting off the debate isn't going to do anything productive because it's just going to come up again.

Plain and simple: I need to get this hesitation behind me. I know the quickest and easiest way to do so is to just take that leap... but it feels like such a huge leap.

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