Frustrations of Writing A Novel [Or Attempting To]

Friday, May 2, 2014

Like the total nerd that I am, I spent a significant amount of time last weekend buried in writing advice posts from some of my favorite authors and brainstorming about the WIP. I swear I really do go out and bask in the New York City awesome-ness more often than it seems! I know that a few of the people that read my blog are writers, but I'm also aware that many are not. So instead of allowing solitary frustrations to trickle into a post here or there thereby taking over said post (that's what twitter is for!), I've collected a few of them into one post, making it totally skippable for those who'd rather not read all this mumbo-jumbo. Although I'd be stoked if you all read it anyway because, you know, that's kind of what I'm here for :)

My characters are laaazzzy. Every time I sit down to write something about Lea, she's downing cups of tea and people-watching from the safety of her porch instead of, I don't know, living life! And then I'm all like "well, let's just throw Sebastian in there!" and he's all like "no, I'd rather chain smoke cigarillos and write angst-ridden songs on my electric guitar in my bedroom." Except he doesn't smoke, no matter how much I try convincing him it would totally fix his image (he's proving a little boring these days). Degenerates, these two. Get your lives together, please, so I can write them.

Being a perfectionist. Ever since I can remember, I been poppin my collar (if you don't know that reference, I'm gonna need you to look up Three 6 Mafia's 'Poppin My Collar', stat). But really, I've always been a perfectionist. I've even responded to the age-old comment "nobody's perfect" with a smart-assy "well, with that attitude, you won't be." Turns out that's a crap attribute to have when you're trying to write an entire novel. Because Rule #1 of writing a book is to plow ahead and never look back. Drafts aren't suppose to be perfect and looking back to fix things just slows down the process.

My world's falling apart. One moment it's all perfect and the next second it wants to go ape-shit. I've created a bipolar town that can't decide if it wants to be naughty or nice. And just when I think it's teetering on the edge of a choice it's all like "sike!". Have I mentioned that where said flip-flopping town falls on the spectrum completely dictates the tone of the novel? Meaning, I can't write a damn thing until it figures it out. And by it, I of course mean me.

Am I forcing it? A story needs movement, but everything I do seems so forced. I need to get from point A to point B but it's not flowing organically. My characters just aren't ready to go there despite my not-so-gentle coaxing with trails of cookie crumbs and promises of ice-cream on arrival. See complaint above, re: my characters are lazy.

Suspending reality. This is the companion to the world frustration above, because in order for this world to exist the reader needs to understand how such a world could in fact exist. Which means that I have to give the reader a reason to suspend the reality known to her and pludge head-first into mine. As of right now, I'm missing some unknown piece that would take me there. Like the causal link between what is and what could be. Because even if it's not 100% possible it has to be believable.

So goes the tune of my current frustrations. I can't even pretend - it makes me feel better to get it all out there (although I'm sure half of you probably think I'm cray cray by now). Any other writers out there having similar issues with a Work In Progress? Comment below so we can wallow in shared misery and, I don't know, maybe figure some -ish out :)



  1. Ha! Im writing as well and all I have to say is you took the words out of my mouth!

  2. I hear you! I was working on a novel for years (YEARS) and finally dumped it a few months ago. Maybe I'll pick it up again one day, but right now, I'm just working on some short stories. Maybe it'll inspire me to go back to my novel or start a new one. Good luck on the writing!

  3. My biggest problem with mine is that I felt like I have these great characters and great overarching world but there's no actual conflict going on - just lots of little side conflicts. So yeah, gotta work on that during the edit phase!


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