{Miscellaneous Mondays} On Writing Books

writing-a-book

I’m at a strange stage in my writing life. Remember that book I lost and was rewriting this past spring and summer? Well, incredibly, I finished it a few weeks ago. It meant so much—at the beginning of the summer, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to write again, and a few months later, I’d finished my second book. God is good.

Of course, this book (tentatively titled Paperless) needs ginormous, mind-boggling, depressing amounts of editing, but I’m not going to worry about that now. No indeed. I’m putting it away for at least a month or two. But therein lies the problem: what to do in that “month or two.”

Last summer, I finished my first book, one that has sadly been lost through a computer crash, and I had the idea for Paperless already brewing. That November, I wrote the first draft of it for NaNoWriMo, and I’ve been working on some version of it ever since. But now it’s finished, and I have no more book ideas, a feeling I haven’t had for over two years.

It’s not that I have no ideas. Numerous bits and pieces, most of them from old books I’ve lost, are floating around in my mind, and there are many characters, themes, and places I want to use. However, they are currently simmering in my subconscious in a thousand scattered pieces, and what I need is the glue that will hold them together and bring the plot of my next book to life. Actually, I have ideas for three different books (one fantasy, one historical fiction, one some kind of in-between that I have no idea how to categorize). But none of them are anywhere near a real outline or plot yet.

Part of me is rather panicked—it feels unsettling not to be working on a book, and with NaNoWriMo looming, I need to know rather soon if I have a book idea for it. But part of me is enjoying this period of rest, of thinking and dreaming and letting ideas ferment and grow and sprout. I’m trying to let all these fragments of a story simply steep. I don’t want to rush into a story, force it when it’s not ready, and do a sloppy job because of my haste when, if I had waited just a few more weeks or months, I could have created something far better.

Of course, it’s a balance—at some point, I’m going to need to sit down and pound out a plot, wrangle all these ideas into submission, formulate them all into some coherent list. Planning a book certainly involves work. But for now, I sense that I need to hold back and keep amassing ideas.

All of this is actually helping me trust in God more. Ultimately, it is He who writes my stories—He gives me the ideas, the wisdom, even the fingers to type them. When I feel frustrated—why isn’t my next book coming? why can’t I figure out what I’m supposed to be writing?—I’ve been trying to go to Him, submitting to His timing, and praying over whatever writing venture He has in store. Because, yes, God definitely cares about my writing—and yours.

If you’ve been wondering whether I’ll participate in NaNoWriMo, the answer is that I honestly have no idea. I’ll keep you updated, but until then, check out last year’s series on preparing for the beast and remember to trust God, whatever stage of life you’re in.

So—where are you in your writing life? Have you ever been in a waiting period like I? 

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26 thoughts on “{Miscellaneous Mondays} On Writing Books

  1. First of all, congratulations on finishing Paperless! It’s a great feeling to finish a draft, and also scary to look ahead and know how much work the story needs during Draft #2. But the point is, you finished it, and now you know you can do it again. 🙂

    As for the idea dilemma… Well, as a writer with myriad ideas on the backburner while I revise my WIP, I wish I knew what to suggest that might help. Maybe tinker with one or two of your not-so-clear ideas by freewriting about one of the characters or the story world? That can sometimes trigger possible ideas for a plot.

    But I also liked the point you made about enjoying this period of rest. Perhaps you’re not meant to do NaNoWriMo this year. Maybe this is meant to be a time of quiet exploration and revisiting other hobbies you haven’t done in a while. You never know what can happen when your mind is away from writing, so giving it some time off might be what you need. Doing other creative things like drawing or (my current favorite) adult coloring books for relaxation can help, too.

    My writing life… I’m almost halfway done with revising my WIP, and this past weekend I hit the “10,000 words cut” milestone, which blew me away. Some aspects of revising have actually been fun, as I see how much more cohesive Draft #2 is over Draft #2 and how much more “on track” it is to where it needs to be. Others have been challenging. But that’s how revisions are supposed to be, right?

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    1. Thank you! And yes, that’s good to remember that I did it once, I can do it again.

      That tip about free-writing is great—I tried it a bit last night and could feel some ideas coming together. At the same time, I like what you said about revisiting other hobbies, too. I remember hearing somewhere how your brain subconsciously works on problems when you don’t consciously focus on them, so maybe by turning my attention to other things, I’ll give my brain some time to sort through my writing ideas. Ah, adult coloring books! One of my favorite things to do. =)

      10,000 words—amazing! *nods* Yep, that sounds just like revisions. I’m glad you’ve been able to see improvement in this draft. That’s so gratifying.

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  2. Mm, these waiting times are often difficult, but I hope you can use this time to relax and find the stories God wants written. ❤

    As for me, I've been frustrated with my writing lately because I have a story I really, really want to write for NaNo. The meaning means so much to me, and I've even grown to like two of the characters (which is a huge step for me). I just get frustrated because a) with all of my school and such, I'm not sure if I'll have time for NaNo this year, and b) even if I do, I'm afraid the story won't come out in a way that says what I want it to powerfully and effectively. I don't want it to flop like the first version of it seemed to do last year. *sighs* But I suppose, if God wants it written, that He'll show me when how to write it.

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    1. Thank you, dear. ❤

      Mmm, that's tough. As for point b, I would say don't worry about that. I've had so many fears like that too, but like you said, if you commit it to God, He will help you write it. Besides, He isn't limited by our frailties. As for point a … *sighs* That's hard. I'll pray that you have wisdom about whether to do it and that perhaps things will slow down a bit so you can. Remember that even if you can't win, it's still a victory to simply try and write even a little.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your current writing approach and situation / dilemma. I am fascinated by what it would take to write a book and want to do NaNo at some point. I’ve been signed up for a few years, but never have been able to do it. I’m not sure yet if it will work this year for me or not.

    I love to learn how others approach it. I want to go read the posts that you reference about your approach for last year.

    I hope that you come to a peace about what to do this year. It is a tough balance between the real work of pounding out ideas and trying to force inspiration. I know that God will give you the inspiration and direction at the right time, whether for next month or some other time.

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    1. You’re welcome! Yes, NaNo can be quite difficult to juggle with all the other aspects of life, and I’m not sure if I can manage it this year. However, even if you can’t reach the goal, I don’t consider it a failure because it makes you write a little bit more than you usually would.

      Thank you. That’s encouraging to remember that God will give me inspiration at the perfect time.

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    1. My whole comment didn’t post . . . oops.
      I know something like the feeling you mentioned, though I’ve had at least one WIP in progress almost constantly for at least two years. I’m nearly done with my current WIP, and looking towards NaNo, and this is the first year I haven’t had an idea planned already. It’s . . . interesting. do have some ideas to turn over in my head, though, mostly thanks to some friends. I hope you find your ideas soon. 🙂

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        1. Thank you!
          Fairly close? I have five-ish scenes to write, then a bit of a timeskip, and then Things Start Happening in a Climatic Manner, so IF I don’t get too distracted/busy with school, I have hopes of finishing it before NaNo. If not, I’ll probably finish in December or January, depending on what happens with my NaNo novel. I hope.

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  4. I totally understand what that feels like. It’s tough to wait and trust God when you’re so used to writing something all the time. I’m sort of feeling the same way about my contest story–it’s just not coming together, and I’m such a slow writer. 😦
    I’m sure you’ll find a great idea soon; whenever I feel my mind simmering like that, a good idea usually pops up at some point. 🙂

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    1. Aww, I’m sorry. I mean, I’m glad someone can relate, but I’m sorry that the contest story isn’t working out like you hoped. I’ll pray that it’ll come together or that you find something else to work on. And thank you! That’s an encouraging thought. =)

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      1. Yeah, right now I’m just trying to figure out whether I can make it work, or if I should just go back to my main WIP. Plus I’m such a slow writer that I’m feeling the pressure of the deadline. 😦
        Thank you–I’ll be praying for your writing dilemma, as well. 🙂

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  5. You lucky thing — I have the opposite problem. Too many ideas. I don’t know if God wants me to continue pursuing the contest story — I can’t find time for editing, and I’m really feeling as if the story isn’t really worth anything, because I can’t figure out a good theme to go with it. The themes that I am trying to incorporate just aren’t working out. I’ve always been taught that for a story to be good, it needs to have a moral. *sighs*
    On the other hand, this confusion about which writing project I should pursue has been making me miss my sci-fi novel a lot. Not the story as much, but the characters. I had so much fun writing them, and I think I’ll leave the fairytale retelling and go back to Nebula Nine. It has many themes which I’m so excited to get to and develop.
    And sorry for this rant. xP

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    1. *huggles* I’m sorry, that sounds awful. Maybe give it a little rest and come back? I know there’s a deadline, but you do have the whole thing written down, which is good.
      Oooh, you should go back! I want to read it. =P But also, that excitement about it is a good indication that it’s something worth spending your time on.
      Oh, never you mind! I love hearing about what’s going on in your writing life. ^^

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