Am I doing something wrong?

Last night I had a temper tantrum.

I realized it was going to be summer vacation in three weeks! I was supposed to be just about done my WIP at this point! The summer was going to be for beta readers and then a final round of adjustments. The thing is, you see, I’m nowhere close. I mean I’m so far from the final product that I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever make it to the end.

“I must be doing something wrong!” I yelled. “How can I be working on the same novel for so long and still be editing the beginning?”

The problem is I keep having new story, and when you have new story you have to go back to the beginning and write in thisΒ new story.Β 

The result is that I’m still editing Part 1. Then of course I have Parts 2 & 3 to tackle, right?

I’m often frustrated lately, I feel stuck. I’m not blocked, I’m working every moment I have, but I keep re-working things until they will be to my liking and I’m at the point where I feel this will never happen. I’m scared that the new story situation will never end, and although I fundamentally know this is not true, it still feelsΒ like it. In addition, like most of us, I feel that I just don’t have the necessary hours of work time to bring this WIP to its completion.

I ask you, are you resigned to the fact that writing a novel requires time?

I tell you that I’m not. I still fight it, giving myself unrealistic deadlines, thinking that there must be a way to do things more efficiently. And every so often I do wonder, Am I doing something wrong?


20 thoughts on “Am I doing something wrong?

  1. At the risk of sounding like Yoda, I say, you are right where you are meant to be. πŸ™‚

  2. I agree with Yoda. I mean with serenitywriter (lovely moniker that!). πŸ˜€

    I totally relate to your frustration, however. I think you can simultaneously understand, accept, and even embrace that writing a novel takes time–while chaffing against how long it takes and how you yearn to be at the next phase (trying to sell it, have readers!) and onto the next story. The joy and pleasure–and the angst and impatience–are all part of the process. Or at least that’s how I comfort myself anyway. Heh.

    1. It is all part of the process, Ev! Sometimes though this process drives me crazy! Just not enough to have me quit or walk away, just enough for me to get grumpy and have a few temper tantrums πŸ™‚

      Part of my problem is that I have so many stories lined up waiting to be told that I just want to get to them. And I’m a perfectionist so I won’t let anything go until I think it’s as close to perfection as I can make it.
      I have noticed though if I can keep immersed in my work on an almost daily basis the time thing becomes less of an issue. It’s all a balancing act.

  3. I know how you feel and I would assume most writers know how you feel. But when the time is right, it will be complete. If it makes you feel better, I finally wrote, “The End” on my WIP and now starts the editing and beta reading. It felt like it took forever and yes, I do set unrealistic deadlines for myself. Hang in there my friend, you are not doing anything wrong.

  4. I don’t know what novel this is, if I recall, you wrote at least one before this. But here is my “doing something wrong” story. My first novel (really a string of connected scenes to see if I could write 350 pages) took a year. My 2nd novel took 2 years. I’ll revisit it at some point, but it still needs work. Then I wrote 2 romance novels that took about 9 months each, but helped me start feeling structure more in my gut. My first novel that I indie published took 4 years of focused work.

    I was nervous to repsond because I don’t want to be discouraging, so I hope this is helpful.

    The good news is the novel after that only took 2 years, and the one I’m working on now will be about a year. It does (for me) start to flow better as you internalize all the pieces — character, theme, conflict, setting, arc, etc.

    And if I recall correctly πŸ˜‰ you have 3 young children!!

    I’m pretty sure you’re not doing anything “wrong”. Hang in there!

    1. Hi Cathryn, so glad you did leave the comment. I find it heartening. I do hope that this learning will tumble down into future works, and hearing it does makes me feel relieved.

      You know, this is actually my first novel. For reasons I won’t get into I put my second wip on hold and went back to novel #1.Pretty crazy huh? First novels are meant to be shelved, put away and looked back on with a little smile of ‘ohhh I wrote that…’. But I went and decided to tackle it. I pretty much re-wrote the entire thing, and have been editing it. I’d love to get the process down to one year, but I suppose each piece is different, and I’ll be at a different place with each work, so who knows!
      Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. Life or writing? Writing or life? Too often, it seems we are forced to make a decision. However, writing can be nothing more than any other component of life. You take out the garbage; you write a chapter. You clean the dishes after dinner; you edit the ending. When we are forced to choose, it becomes an enormous strain. Thomas Chatterton was a brilliant poet who lived all alone in an attic…and still committed suicide. Don’t make it a choice. Make it an integral part of your life. Be the best person, wife, mother, writer, that you can be.

    1. Tikiman, your comment really struck me. I had been compartmentalizing my writing without even realizing it. If it wasn’t set work time I wasn’t working. Somehow I forgot that editing even one sentence, or adding in one more detail in the middle of the day keeps me connected with my work. Thanks for the reminder–I really needed that! It’s been such a relief to not have to make that choice!

  6. Jennifer, I do what you’re doing all the time. I’m in awe of the writers who can write through a first draft, go back and edit and move on. Each story we work on is different. You’re not do anything wrong. I usually blame the story itself. That way I’m off the hook. πŸ˜‰ You’ll get through this. Right now is a good time to exercise some writerly patience..

    1. hehe, writerly patience!!! Laura, I think that needs to be at the top of the list of what makes a writer. Beyond skill and talent, it’s patience and determination. To re-write and re-draft until a piece is complete takes a universe of patience. Sometimes I joke that I must have OCD or I’d never complete a novel–that’s how intense it feels to get a wip to it’s finality.
      Thanks Laura, it’s always reassuring to know that others share my process!!!

  7. If you still have parts 2 and 3, proceed with them. Put part 1 aside and stop going back to it. Revising the beginning before the middle and end are complete is not time well spent. This is why you feel frustrated. Push through. Be bold. Good luck!

    1. Thanks Tracy. The whole thing is written, I’m in editing mode. I’ve done the loop round and round of editing from beginning to end and. I’m at the point where I need my story in act 1 solidified so that there are not major cascades further down the road! For me the way you describe works best at early draft stages. I’m hoping this will be one of the very final rounds!

      1. Ah. I didn’t realize you were done! Good gravy. Well, the fact that you’re finished is a major accomplishment. I’m sorry that you’re “looping” but how wonderful for you to have this problem! πŸ™‚ I wish you oodles of luck. Will send good vibes your way. I still think my advice of “be bold” applies!

      2. Another of my commens that I replied to via e-mail dissapeared! ugh! I tell you, wordpress sometimes!!!

        Yes, you’re absolutly correct Tracy–be bold! Having that confidence when writing makes all the difference in the world!
        Thanks, I’ll take all the good vibes sent my way πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  8. Yes, I’m resigned to the fact that novels take time. I’m also resigned to the fact that some novels are just not meant to be and are writing practice.If it makes you feel better I spent 13 years on my first novel.

    From my original idea, I kept adding more to the story, then a little more, until I had a monster novel with no clear picture of where it was going or the original idea. I set it aside and decided it was time to start a new novel. That one didn’t take so long.

    My advice would be to keep a clear image of where you want your story to go and edit it. Don’t turn back to fix something. If you find threads that need to be woven into the story, write a note about it and the places where you need to weave the thread into, but keep going from that point and fix what needs to be fixed. If you come to point where you want to add a story element, ask yourself if it is really needed and what does it add to the story. If they don’t add to the story don’t waste time adding them.

    Good luck on the story.

    1. Hi Stephanie!! Your dedication is outstanding! 13 years!

      I appreciate what you’re saying here. You did make me pull back a bit and ask myself that very question: is this necessary added story?

      I have noticed in the past that I can get bored re-working something and begin changing things just for the sake of change. There is so much to keep in sight when writing! (not this time though.)
      I’m moving along nicely for me now, actually satisfied with progress–which doesn’t happen so often πŸ™‚

      By the way, for a long while I couldn’t decided if I would ever come back to this novel. I agree you with that some novels will never see light of day. They’re learning experiences. That said, I’m glad I came back to it because I have learned so much in regard to structure that I wouldn’t have with my other WIP. The elements in this novel are many, and it’s multiple pov, and and and. Whenever I get frustrated I remind myself of that!

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