2 years ago, I convinced myself to write a visual novel especially for Halloween. After a series of unforeseen circumstances, I wasn’t able to release it on time, and I got really sad and down for a while. Despite all the obstacles though, I never gave up on writing the whole thing. And after finally finishing it, I would like to share 5 things that I learned in the process.
- Stop making excuses.
It was August 2014 when I started planning for the visual novel. I made a complete outline, fleshed out the characters, created a background story for each one, and set myself to writing the actual thing. And I was doing good, actually, until something happened. A month into the production, my highschool sweetheart and I broke up.
Believe me, nothing hurts a writer more than writing love stories while trying to heal a shattered heart. Okay, maybe there are other things that hurt more. But the point is, I was so broken that I couldn’t write the visual novel even if I wanted to. Heck, I didn’t even want to LOOK at the thing. After I had gotten over my breakup, a new kind of challenge hit me. I was a freshman student at one of the “top” universities in my country, and damn if they didn’t live up to the “top” status. Every month = hell month. I could barely focus on my studies, how the hell could I write a visual novel too?!
- Don’t be scared. Have faith in yourself.
Looking back, I now realize that those were all just excuses. Yes, it was true that I got depressed after my breakup with my high school sweetheart. Yes, it was true that simply being a university student was taking up so much of my daily life. But what isn’t true was that I didn’t have enough time to write. As a matter of fact, I did have a couple of writing projects after missing the deadline for this one. Those I could write, but this I could not, because I didn’t feel like writing it. What a silly reason, right?
Was it hard? No. How hard is it to just plop down on a chair and start tapping away? Not so hard. You literally just had to sit down and type. But it was hard to find motivation for something that you didn’t feel like doing. For many days, I did my best to force myself to just sit down at my desk and write this visual novel, specifically. I often dreaded writing the script, because I was so scared of the outcome. With my other writing projects, I simply had to do what was asked of me. With this one, I had to use my brain to think, and my heart to feel, what would be the best thing to do next. What if it’s not good enough? What if the plot doesn’t make sense? What if I completely mess this up? I was so, so scared.
But the thing is, it’s always much better to write something mediocre now than to not write anything at all. Why? Because, see, what’s easier to edit, a not-so-good piece of work or a completely blank page? I bet you’ll have an easier time with the former. Basically, if you write something now, you can simply go back to it later to improve it. But if you don’t write now, then you’ll have nothing to edit later, and you’l be stuck in the “Write later” zone. Don’t be stuck in that zone. Just like Sam’s dad said in A Cinderella Story, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” Perfectionism isn’t always a good thing in creative work, especially when it hinders you from finishing the actual work.
- Remember why you wanted to write it in the first place.
This is one thing that I really, really cling to when it comes to writing. It’s remembering WHY you wanted to write whatever you wanted to write in the first place. Simply remembering that can do wonders for your motivation. Why? Well, for one, humans rarely do something “just because”. Even if people tell you they’re doing something “just because”, believe me, there’s gotta be a reason for that. And it’s this reason that can affect everything that we do, even in our daily lives. If you think about the reason why you want to write what you want to write, you’ll probably also think about what you’d feel once you finished writing it, and that can be a huge boost for your motivation.
For me, my original reason was to… simply write an otome game for Halloween. I’ve never ventured out of my usual otome game– the cliche romantic-comedy / fantasy kind. I thought it would be great to challenge myself to do something I’ve never done. The only my problem was that– and this is between you and me– I had based several of the guys’ personalities and characteristics on my high school sweetheart, the same guy who broke my heart. That was why writing it hurt so much. But when I remembered that first and foremost, this is a challenge to myself– an even harder challenge now, after what happened– I realized that I just had to release it and I came back to my senses.
- Don’t be afraid to seek the support of others.
In the making of my VN, I’ve bothered so many people. Yes, bothered. I swear, I have.
Not to mention, I always felt that I was disappointing people, including my own artist (who still stuck with me through the end– I am eternally grateful to her because of that). I’m the kind of person who just hates disappointing people, or letting them down. I would probably travel to the moon and back if it means I could stick to my word. Okay, maybe not literally. But you get the point. After I missed the first deadline, I was really, really down. For me, missing a deadline and therefore not sticking to my word was one heck of a failure.
At first, I really thought that I could do it on my own. How hard could it be? I did Summer Paradise by myself in a week, did the script and programming of Munster Academy by myself in a week as well. Of course, I can do this on my own too!
Sadly, that wasn’t the case. I did need help with this VN. But the important thing to remember is that asking for help is never a sign that you’re weak. To me, it’s actually a sign that you’re strong enough to admit your own weaknesses. So if you’re having troubles with your writing, don’t be scared or ashamed to ask for help! You can ask for help from an ideabouncer, or a proofreader! Or even a co-writer, if it comes to that. Heck, if you’re having trouble, you can even come to this blog and ask me for help. 😄 We’re all in this together, right? So don’t worry, and don’t be scared. Believe me, lots of people have been and will be in the same situation as you, and probably the only thing I can assure you is this: there is always someone out there willing to help, if you know how to ask. So ask away!
- Just do it.
I don’t want to end this very long blog post on such a cheesy note, but I still personally think that this is the best thing anyone could do. As Nike promotes, “Just do it.” All these tips will be useless if you won’t, well, plop down on your chair and get to work. There is no better advice than this, I swear.
After I stopped making excuses for myself, stopped aiming for perfection, remembered why I wanted to write this VN, and asked others for help, there was really just one more thing I could do. And that was to just write the darn VN. 😂
And that’s why… here I am, two years from that one fateful August day in 2014, proud to announce that we have finally, finally released Once Upon A Hallow’s Eve. Sure, there’s still room for improvement. Sure, there’s still a lot more we can polish. Sure, my first attempt at writing something even remotely spooky is probably sucky and cheesy as hell. But it’s done. Every single scene is complete. Every single image is in place. Every single track is ready to take you through this one crazy story-based game.
If I can do it, why can’t you?
That’s a silly question. Of course you can!
I’ll be waiting, and keep playing everyone!