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  • Writer's pictureJon

Brain Freeze

When I began the first draft of The Curse in May 2010, I had done only a little research on the craft of writing. All I wanted to do was to get the story out of my head. When I finished, the feeling was indescribable. When I came down from that high, reality kicked in. That first draft went from an awesome book ready to publish to leaving a lot to be desired. Well, it proved the axiom that all first drafts suck. Thankfully, I chose to work on the second draft and wait until the final product was ready.

Since then, I've done a ton of research as well as learn from other writers and editors. I used that information to edit the hell out of my backlist, including the last re-edit I finished this year. In fact, I spent so much time trying to learn all aspects of the writing and self-publishing process, along with re-editing my published and unpublished books that I realized it's been almost four years since I wrote a story from beginning to end. On a positive note, thanks to those efforts, I'm finally happy with my backlist. No more re-editing. It's time to get the three books on the Upcoming Books page published. On a side note, I'm halfway finished with the blurb to Justice.

Over the past couple of months, I've re-edited Justice and Second Chance, and my ideal reader has them now. While she beta reads them, for once, I have the time to write new stories. There are two I want to write, but there's a problem.

I have brain freeze.

It isn't an official writing condition. It's a term I came up with to describe what I've been going through lately. Now brain freeze isn't writer's block. I know the stories I want to write and have plenty to say with them. But the routines and disciplines I developed in the editing process are now interfering with the creative process. Instead of letting the story flow, I'm committing the indie author bad habit of editing while writing, among other things, such as word counts for each chapter. None of that should matter when writing a first draft. If I had a deadline, I'd be in real trouble.

But how do you overcome brain freeze?

This took some time, but I figured it out. For all you going through it, too, the way to beat brain freeze comes from within. As Yoda once said, "Unlearn what you have learned." For me, it means go back to the basics. In other words, turn off your inner editor and let your story flow no matter what. That's what later drafts are for. It doesn't mean you shouldn't use what you've learned. Save it for later. Your first draft is going to suck anyway. It's vital that you finish your story. Then you can edit.

For example, a few days ago, I started the first draft of a continuation of a story I thought had ended, the sequel to Second Chance. I went through brain freeze while writing the first chapter. It got to the point where I was ready to give up on the project. If I can't even finish Chapter 1, what good would the book be? Last night, I found my answer: To hell with Chapter 1. Move on to Chapter 2.

And the story flowed. Chapter 2 took over three hours to write, but it helped beat my brain freeze. My inner editor now says to juxtapose Chapters 1 and 2, and it's right. I can do that before moving on to Chapter 3. I'm only doing this bit of editing, because it gives me more to work with in order to finish the original Chapter 1. More story can now come out.

Are the two chapters high quality work? My inner editor is screaming, "No!" More description of the people and area are needed, and that's fine. They can go in the second or later drafts.

As with writer's block, brain freeze is a temporary condition. For those of you who are suffering from brain freeze, the solutions are similar. Just write. Write the first draft and don't worry about it being good. Don't worry about editing, word counts per chapter, proper grammar, or whatever else.

It's time to start writing and get that story out.

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