Ode To A Toad

Here’s an ode here’s an ode to a toad
Though he’s always wet he never will corrode
Be sure to drive around him if he’s hopping down the road
Here’s an ode here’s an ode to a toad

Ode To A Toad

This isn’t really an Ode to a toad, it’s more of an attempt to name that beast called self-doubt. I’ve had a recent hiatus with regards to working on my debut novel, Cyber Cell. I’d open Scrivener, stare at the screen, then fill with fear, dread, and feel overwhelmed. I’d lost track of all the threads of sub-plots, who’s POV should I used for which scene, and how the hell does anyone manage to write a bloody book!

I wrote other things, a few short stories but I couldn’t bring myself to get my head around a big fat wordy novel. So I started reading about procrastination, about self-doubt and about what @AnyOneOnTwitter was doing right now. This was not helping.

Not only have I been overwhelmed with the task of writing the book but also with the sheer volume of advice there is about all things writery. I felt so bogged down by all the well-meaning advice and rules that I couldn’t see the wood for the trees, I hid under a leaf. I decided to name my self-doubt and give it a face, it turns out that his name is Frank, he’s a Toad and recently he has been a smug bastard (or should I say smug bastoad?). Well I mean to say he was.

I read Stephen Kings book ‘On Writing’ and I like his no-nonsense views on writing, especially where he talks about adding to your [writing] toolbox. He also talks about writing everyday because “the characters begin to stale […], the narrative’s cutting edge begins to rust and I lose my hold on the story’s plot and pace.”

After reading his book, which I highly recommend, I slowly crawled out from under my leaf. I began just by doing a bit of research, I googled a few famous entrepeneurs and tried to suss out some commonalities to apply to one of my characters. Steadily I wrote a scene, a small one, where said character gives a speech at a conference.

I was slowly starting to think about my novel again, but I still felt overwhelmed by it whenever I opened Scrivener. During another bout of titting about I found a website called Writers’ HQ again, plain speaking, sweary, realistic advice about all things writery. It was while lurking around on their blog that I found a post about plotting and planning. I realised that I had to take control of the plan. I’ve pantsed my way through so far and now I’ve got to the point where I can pants no more.

Lucky for me, clever Scrivener lets you print from the corkboard (sorry to those who haven’t a clue what I’m on about). I wrote the synopsis for all my scenes, printed them off and cut them out. I find it easier to have something tangible to order and re-order and these little cue-cards have been a novel saver! Now I have all my scenes in an order and have transferred that to the binder on Scrivener. It feels like a weight has been lifted, I know where I’m going and once again I am excited about cracking on with my big book!

And now Frank, I say to you…

I felt for the toad and his pitiful state,
But the day was now fading, and such was his fate.
In the grand scheme of things, now I confess,
What’s one little froggie, more or less?  Ode To A Toad

Have you struggled with self-doubt, procrastination or felt so overwhelmed you just want to give up? I encourage you to name your beast then tame him/her and share your story here…

5 thoughts on “Ode To A Toad

  1. the pretty poems 18th Oct 2018 — 11:11 pm

    ever since i finished “The Wind in the Willows” I just adore toads now. imagining my self doubt as an adorable toad makes me smile. yesterday i watched Night of the Living Dead after binging on a bunch of Stephen King interviews. it was one of his favorite movies! i’m definately going to be adding his memoir-style book On Writing to my book shelf super soon. this is also the second time i’ve read the term “pansting” and that makes me laugh too because i didn’t know there was a word for what i had done for the first 5,000 words in my story – blindly writing whatever came to my fingers, not knowing about my plot. Thanks for sharing the link about plotting and planning. my story needs help tying a lot of ideas together.

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    1. I have sketchy memory of Wind in the Willows, the most recent toad in my life is the one from the Peter Rabbit cartoon (my son loves watching it), that toad is really annoying and maybe I was subconcisouly thinking of that when I thought up Frank! I don’t remember the Toad in Wind in the Willows as being quite so annoying, I think I’ll dig it out for my son!

      Yeah, add King’s On Writing to you list, I found it informative in a non-preachy way. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has a little giggle whenever the word pantser comes up! I have been blindly writing too and the plot sort of came together as the story did, you keep going with your pantsing and then plan when the time is write (see what I did there!). There is a load of helpful stuff on the Writer’s HQ website if you don’t mind a bit of tongue n cheek sweary-ness. Good luck with you project, keep going!

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  2. Great post! I love the idea of naming your self-doubt 😊. Glad to hear you’ve gotten back into the groove of things. I second Scrivener and On Writing being awesome author tools.

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement, I’m an admirer of your blog! Yes, somehow I’ve found characterizing it has given me the ability to get past it.

      I still have so much to learn about Scrivener, I probably only use about 30% of what it can do.

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      1. I’m the same with Scrivener. I know there’s so many things you can use it for, but I only use it to break everything into scenes and to compile into different formats 😅. One day I’ll finally learn what else it can do and probably love it even more.

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