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Doubting your draft? Just get to the end ✅
Today's guest is author and illustrator Victoria Ying.
Sometimes, the biggest hurdle is just getting to the end of your story.
It takes a significant amount of time and effort to finish a book — enough time that self-doubt may start to creep in partway through the process. No matter how passionate you are about your story, trudging through those doubts and challenges to get to the end can sometimes feel like grueling work.
You can’t edit a blank page. Even in the face of chaos or upheaval in your publishing journey, or even if you feel like your story is taking an unexpected turn away from the outline you previously created, the best thing you can do is push through to the end. So, keep writing — you’ll find the story you were meant to tell along the way. And when you reach the end, you’ll be able to look back and see that many of those doubts you had were unfounded.
In today’s interview, author and illustrator Victoria Ying talks about pushing through doubts to finish a story, staying the course even when things don’t go as planned, and knowing where her characters are heading — even when her outline is loose.
OUR SPECIAL GUEST TODAY IS…
Author and Illustrator
Victoria’s graphic novel, Hungry Ghost, is out now!
What is the most memorable writing tip or technique you have heard, and how does it influence your process?
Just get to the end. It can be so difficult in the middle of a story on a first draft. You start to doubt yourself and your instincts, but if you can make it to the end of the story, you can look back and realize that the work you put in is better than you thought.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced in your publishing journey?
I had an agent quit the business before my debut came out, and I had two editors leave the publishing houses in the middle of projects. This threw the whole process into chaos and left me feeling adrift. Thankfully, there's nothing you can do but to keep on writing and to keep on creating things.
What is one thing you wish you had known about the publishing process before going through it yourself?
How long the process is. Even though I'm considered fast, the work of doing a graphic novel is grueling and years long even outside of the labor. The amount of time and care that goes into making a book as good as it can be can be exhausting!
How do you balance finding time to write and managing other obligations and responsibilities?
I protect my weekends. Most of the time an editor will ask me how long a book will take. I do the math and make sure to only work 5 days a week. I also build in sick time because unlike other professions, nobody can cover for you!
What’s one writing “rule” or commonly followed piece of advice that you decidedly break?
I don't know if there are any strict writing rules that I tend to break, but I do start writing from the climax and write forward to the beginning. This usually helps me because I know where the character has to turn and change. I know where the main thrust of the story is heading.
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How did you get a literary agent? What was the querying process like for you?
I met my current agent at a publishing drinks event! We were just acquaintances at the time, but once my agent at the time decided to leave the business, Jen reached out to me and asked me what I was working on. Connections in this industry are so important because the journey can be lonely, but other publishing professionals who support you can help when you're at a low point.
How do you personally get over writer’s block?
I haven't had the luxury of writer’s block yet! Graphic novels take so long that I'm usually writing an idea as I'm finishing up other parts of the process, such as inking or lettering, so I've usually got my next idea ready by the time my publisher/agent wants to hear it! That said, I think a break from the process can be hugely helpful. Reading usually helps me to fill the creative well and come back to new and original ideas.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? What’s your personal drafting process like?
I'm somewhere in between. I write an outline, but I don't tend to stick very closely to it. I need to know where I'm heading in order to start a book, or else I'll get lost and eventually abandon the project. However, my outlines are VERY LOOSE. They're maybe one or two pages total and just full of bullet points more than anything structured.
Graphic novels are usually sold on proposal, but I'm a weirdo and I submit a full script. That's because I know that my outline will not reflect the final script, so I want to find the story in the draft before I try to pitch the project.