Writing Slivers

It took me about eight months to complete my first novel.  I wrote 30K over a six-month period, 30K during NaNoWriMo and spent a month revising.

Yes, NaNoWriMo was a huge push for me to finish that story, but I got to a point  where I couldn’t stop writing.  I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, couldn’t shower without plotting, planning, and carrying on one-sided conversations with my characters. Even after my husband would drag me to bed, I’d lay awake for hours staring at the ceiling and pouring over the things I’d write as soon as I got to my computer again.

That crazy adrenaline only lasted for that story.  I’ve never felt that insane motivation (okay…obesession) to get my WIP complete. 

Until I started this new ms. 

It’s like a sliver under my skin. I can see it, I can feel it, but I can’t get it out because of the sheer amount of reasearch this story requires.  It’s so freaking big that I need something more than tweezers and hydrogen peroxide (or my laptop and Mt. Dew, if we’re going to continue the mataphor). So it’s festering, getting nastier and gooier with every passing second.

I could poke at it — play with the setting, dialogue, opening scene — but if I’m going to do it right, I need the tools.  And I just don’t have them yet. 

What do you do when you want to work on a story, but can’t for whatever reason?


  • Donna Hole

    Whine and moan, and then somehow force the time issues.

    I have a fantasy I’m writing, and I can’t just sit and pound it out because the research distracts me. I happen to enjoy internet searches 🙂 So, I save links in the manuscript as I write, and also print out everything for later editing. Sometimes I just leave myself a not about the kind of research I need, then move on to the next scene plot point while the muse is willing to remain in draft mode.

    I find writing out of order at least keeps the story moving. I admit I’m not as far into the novel as I’d like to be; but that’s more because I don’t have a lot of writing time now.

    You’ll find your balance Becky. Its just a matter of recognizing limitations, accepting them, and making accommodations.


  • Lexa Cain

    I’ve never gotten that “Oh! Shiny!” feeling about a new project. They’re always more of a crock-pot, slow cooking idea. I know there’s something there, but there are a lot of plans to be made and details to be worked out. After weeks (or months) of planning and outlining, finally it takes over and screams at me until I start to write it.

    Congrats on your shiny new idea! Get going, do that research, and start it already!

  • Jess

    If I want to write something but feel like I can’t, I put it in the, “Not quite ready to write this one” folder in my computer. The WIP that I’m working on right now? I’ve been avoiding it for over a year, just because I didn’t feel I had the tools to write it. Finally, I just sucked it up and plunged it…which may blow up in my face (or rather, in your face, since you’ll get to read it :)).

  • Kristan Hoffman

    Unfortunately this happens to me a lot. I’m a pretty slow writer. I take a lot of time to sit and digest and ponder and plan before I put words to page. (At least for my novels. Serial fiction and creative nonfiction are a bit easier/faster.)

    Mostly what I’ve learned to do is stop stressing about speed. Yes, I need to be moving forward, and putting a bit of pressure on myself so that I don’t just laze around the house watching YouTube, but I also need to remember that we all have our own rhythms and pace, and being slow doesn’t necessarily mean I’m “doing it wrong.”

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