Ack! I’m 10,000 words into my book and I hate it!
Don’t panic. Instead, do these five steps.
Step 1: Assess
Do you also hate your haircut, your phone, and your spouse? You might be in a FUNK. This is a technical term for when you just need a break from writing.
This week I busted my writing funk in a major way! I took a mini vacay in Santa Cruz to hang out with a friend of mine. We drank tea and did yoga and went thrift-store shopping. I came home with a fairy dress, a light-up snake headband, and a whole new attitude.
Go do something that makes your heart laugh. Take a break from writing. Especially if you feel like you couldn’t possibly take a break from writing. You’ll actually spend less time if you stop and recharge than if you keep writing while fighting yourself.
Step 2: Find Your Why
Check back with your mission statement for your book.
Your mission statement should include answers to the following:
- What’s your reason and purpose for writing this book?
- Who is your audience?
- What results will you get from writing this book and sharing it with the world?
Get in touch with your reasons for writing this book.
Maybe those are big, soul-igniting reasons: I want to write a book that inspires dyslexic kids to love themselves despite the way they feel in the classroom.
Maybe those are practical or monetary reasons: I want to publish the second book in my series two months after the first one came out so that I can use all the amazing excitement and energy my readers are expressing to promote this new book and continue growing my career as an author.
Don’t have a mission statement? Create one. (I’ve included a step-by-step guide for making your mission statement in Recipe for Outlining.)
Your mission statement should light a fire under you. It should make you feel excited about writing.
Step 3: Take Stock
Once you’ve checked in with your mission statement (or created it), figure out whether those 10,000 (or 20,000 or 40,000) words are in line with that mission statement. If they’re not taking you in the direction you want to go, don’t use them.
Check for misalignment in the following areas:
- Tone and Mood
Repeat after me: We don’t delete our writing! But we do move it into storage. You don’t have to keep going on a project if it’s not taking you in the right direction. You’ve got a goal. A big important goal. Make sure the time you spend in creation is serving that goal. You have permission to scrap a project if it’s no longer serving you.
Step 4: Make a Plan
Stop writing and go back to outlining. Figure out where you’re going and how you’ll get there. You might still be able to use a lot of your draft. Figure out what you need and want, then go hunting through your draft to see how it serves those needs and desires.
Stick with your plan. Agree to write another 2,000 words at least before you make any further judgments. It’s like steering an ocean liner: It’s going to take some time before your story really turns in this new direction.
Step 5: Eat Dessert First
What was the last thing in your draft that you liked? What was the last thing you connected to?
What part are you most excited about? What scene do you really want to write? Write that. Do the thing that makes you want to write.
Change your perspective by changing your location. Bring your laptop into a different room in your house. Walk outside and talk through the next scene or chapter of your book. Freewrite. Talk out a scene and record yourself. Try out other creative brainstorming techniques.
Know that you’re not alone. This happens. In fact, I just worked with a writer who was 50,000 words into her book and was hating it. She wanted to make some major changes but wasn’t sure if they were necessary.
Was her draft really headed in the wrong direction? Or was she just panicking?
After a Clarity Session, she got, well, clarity about what to do. Turns out that even though she was experiencing a bit of a writing funk, there really were some elements in the story that weren’t working. During our session we returned to her mission statement and talked through how to make small tweaks that would make a big impact on the plot, and characters and even on the structure of her series as a whole.
Want your own Clarity Session? Work with me one-on-one to get through your writing rough patch.