The Novel

I can’t quite get up the gumption to finish this big project of a novel I have going on. I read it through, and made some notes, and even made a Post-it storyboard of scenes. There are definitely some changes I want to make, and some I’m not sure about. But what I’m really doing is putting off the challenge of sitting down to edit/rewrite the last half.

I believed in it enough to write 240+ pages of it. Hell, I believed in it enough to switch careers and am now contemplating an even bigger life change. But the project itself is stymied, and partly because I’m wondering if it is worth all this effort and time.

I know the answer to that one is yes, somehow it is worth it. (Even if all it does is teach me that I’m an inescabably bad writer.) And I was okay with that back in those golden days of yore when I actually enjoyed working on it. Have you ever gotten stuck on a project? How do you get excited about it again?

8 thoughts on “The Novel

  1. Usually when I get stuck on something it ends up abandoned. That’s probably not good advice, though.

    I had this painting I was working on. (You can read about some of what I was doing.) I got stuck on it. My good friend Stephanie came by and toured my house and studio, which at the time was the corner of my bedroom. She told me the painting was blocking me, and I should take it off the easel and put it away.

    The result of doing that was going off in a totally different directions — a couple of different directions, actually — which led me to where I am today, working in a totally different style.

    I’m sure, in my case, that abandoning that one project was a good idea. Others I’m less sure about. Over the years I’ve left so much behind and there are days when I’m haunted by all the things I’ve failed to finish.

  2. I’m a big believer that you can solve problems during sleep. (And I’m not crazy – there’s evidence to support this). Maybe think about a small bit before you go to sleep – nothing too overwhelming – and actally pose yourself a question. You might be surprised to find an answer when you wake up. It helps to get a full night’s rest too.

  3. Fortunately I work in the tech sector… so every time I get bored and lack the gumption to finish a project, I just pick up another language, or another technology, and work on another project.

    I guess this isn’t very good advice.

    But there’s ALWAYS something else cool out there…!

  4. I like the idea about getting enough sleep.

    There are two alternatives to doing nothing with this project, though:

    1) See if there’s any part(s) of it that you can isolate as a short story, or maybe more.

    2) Just see down and, come what may, see it all the way through. After all, you made a major life change over this!

  5. I think you need to finish your novel the best you can, even if it’s not perfect… and, then, step back, take a break from it… doesn’t matter if you stay away from it for a month or half a year… By that time, you’ll either be ready to re-write, tie up loose ends, etc. – or declare it a master-piece as is 🙂

  6. I have definitely encountered this problem in my own writing and in working with authors. I’ve always found that the best way to get unstuck on a project is to start up another one. Give your brain a break and step back from the novel for a short time, kind of like a palette cleanser. Try out a short story or some poetry, anything to keep the creative juices flowing, and then come back to the novel with fresh eyes. You’ll not only be ready to deal with it again but you’ll likely see it in a new light and be able to hone and polish it.

    I’ve also found that it helps to have someone else take a look at your work, to get some feedback from an objective source while you step away from it. If you decide you want to do that, let me know. I’d be happy to take a look for you and help if I can 🙂

  7. True to form, I borrowed a book from the library on it. I read the intro and table of contents last night–it’s a step by step guide to novel writing based on genre. Or maybe it is a step by step guide for eliminating creativty, inspiration and intuition from your writing.

    I think sleeping would have been more productive.

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