Withdrawal and Progress

The deeper I go into reading through my manuscript and making notes, the more I learn about things I could have done better before I started writing it. I would have saved myself so much time in re-writing and re-working the manuscript by plotting it out before I wrote it. I was tempted to just disregard it and start something new, but Neil Gaiman’s writing advice is to finish what you start. Sometimes, I feel like I am polishing a piece of trash.

I have turned “The Artist’s Way” into a self-guided course because sometimes I have a hard time getting through all the tasks in each chapter. Last week, I glimpsed the subject heading “Reading Deprivation” and I conveniently forgot to finish the chapter while I binge read for a few days.  I am so addicted to the written word. The challenge is to go a week without reading anything. The positive part of this reading deprivation is that you stop filling your mind without other people’s thoughts and words so that you can focus on your thoughts. Of course, I do not include my manuscript in the deprivation, since they are all my thought anyway. I do not get a reading fix from reading my manuscript.

I am taking the reading deprivation challenge in the spirit of a fast. I am surprised that my reading habits are so compulsive. I find myself reading without even thinking about it. My husband caught me staring longingly at my bookcase and looking sad. He gave me a huge hug and asked, half joking, if I was going to be okay. I feel starved for ideas, but I am determined to see this thing through. I have not picked up any books, though I have read a few articles here and there before I realized I was doing it.

At any rate, I am determined to finish editing this manuscript and to bring this novel to the highest possible quality that I can. My writing skills improve day by day, and it is natural the story I started in 2014 should be less than my current best. Improving your writing skills is important, and you cannot cancel all previous projects every time you make progress, or you will never move forward. Perfectionism is the opposite of progress.


“Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.” – Neil Gaiman


9 thoughts on “Withdrawal and Progress

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I feel the same way about plotting. I didn’t extensively plot this first draft, and I know it will come back to bite me in the revision stage. In the future, I will DEFINITELY plot, but for now, I have to push forward.

    I think keeping away from the reading to clear your head is a smart call. A tough call, but a smart one. What’s important is you’re working. Progress is king! Good on you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never heard of this reading deprivation thing. What’s the purpose? I thought we were supposed to read more when we’re writing – surround ourselves with good examples and inspiration. I have heard people say that if they read when they’re writing they tend to start sounding like the author they’re reading. I wish I sounded like a published author! I’m really curious to hear the rationale behind this “reading fast”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was only for a week, thank goodness. The idea was that as writers we use words to drown out and numb our thoughts. The fast was basically about getting me alone in my head with myself without distractions. I realized that I did so much reading that I numbed my mind to a certain degree.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with A.S. Akkalon for the most part about reading while you write. I understand the reasoning behind NOT reading, but if you aren’t prone to copy other author’s voices, than it shouldn’t be a problem. When you hit on an AMAZING book (the kind that fills up your heart and makes you depressed when you finish it), that is when you should take a few days off from writing. But I think a person would anyway, because if they are that enthralled by the book, they wouldn’t be able to focus on writing anyway. I guess it all depends on the reader/writer though. When I read, I tend to write less. When I’m really excited about what I’m writing, I don’t want to read anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am sucked into reading a beta novel, and I feel that it is very inspiring. Seeing someone else’s rough drafts can be a great learning tool. I will, however, need to get back to editing very soon.

      Liked by 2 people

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