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The view from the top

This week, I finished the first draft of my next book Age of Oppression. 

Writing a first draft is hard work – don’t let anybody tell you otherwise!

I liken it to walking up a steep hill. You start off full of enthusiasm, with a clear view of the end and knowing exactly how you are going to get there.

Then, over time, you lose sight of the summit. The path seems to be leading you in the wrong direction or even taking you backwards. You press on and, before you know it you you’ve wandered off onto a side-path and have no clue where you are. You might be bogged down in undergrowth, or surrounded by tall trees or simply wandering in a wilderness. Either that, or the weather changes and, instead of that sunny, warm stroll, it becomes a long hard slog in the cold and wet and against a biting wind (I once walked up Malam Tarn in weather like that – not fun, but the view from the top was fantastic!).  In any case, you start to wonder if you are going to get to your destination, question if you should have started this project or, sometimes, think you might be climbing the wrong hill entirely.

If that is you at the moment, my advice to you would be don’t give up. Every writer gets this. I do with every book I write. There are days when I start to doubt my ability to write at all!

You see, if you want to get to the summit, you just have to push through all of this. By all means, stop for a break – but set a time limit on that break and make sure you start again (vital if you don’t want to sit on the hillside forever). Similarly, if you are convinced you’ve gone down a wrong path, retrace your steps if you must (though I don’t recommend it – you could wander endlessly back and forth along one stretch of the hillside if you do that). But, however hard it seems to be, whatever the challenges, however stuck you feel, don’t abandon the struggle. If you give up, you’ll end up back in the car park, staring up at that summit, wishing you could get there.

And yes, maybe some of the diversions may not have been a good idea. And yes, perhaps the view from the top wasn’t all you’d hoped it would be. And yes, it might take you longer than you’d expected to get there. But all the same, finishing something is a great feeling.

Right, on with the editing!

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