Monday, September 23, 2013

Deleting 15,000 Words a.k.a. Frustration

For those of you who don't know, I've been editing my novel MioM (abbreviation) since the beginning of August.  I started this novel when I was about 11 and finished the first draft when I was 13.  I edited the first draft a little bit then, but quickly moved on to other novels.

I went back and worked on it again at age 14ish.  I had learned a lot about writing, especially beginnings.  I pretty much deleted and re-wrote my first 5k. 

As I've been re-working my novel for the third time, I've had a hard time knowing where to start.  I took over 4500 words worth of notes about how my characters were flat, my setting uninspired, and my plot lacking and it all seemed so overwhelming.  Finally I decided I had several scenes that were beyond salvaging.  I started with the chapter where my beginning re-writes had stopped.  It was bad.  The next chapter was too.  I continued reading until I arrived at a place where I was actually happy with my novel.  I deleted everything in between.

Suddenly, my word count plummeted from 57K, (which I already knew was short) to 41K.  I started to panic.  I hid away from my book for a week, wasting time on trifling things like Pinterest and School.

I read all of Ally Carter's latest book, United We Spy.  I starting reading a Donald Maass book I got back in June.  Reading that good work of fiction and a good instruction manual on how to write fiction, I got even more frustrated.  I hated my book.  I would never amount to anything worthy of publication.  I would certainly never be labeled a "good" writer.  My book stunk, my characters were thinner than tissue paper.  I was a bad writer.

Despite the fact that I wrote almost 3K over the weekend, I'm still not happy with my books, my ideas, or my characters.  My writing and I are barely on speaking terms.  I kind of want to curl up in a hole with my kindle and forget Microsoft Word ever existed.

What do you do to combat these feelings of unworthiness?  This has never happened to me before.  Does the fear go away?  Please tell me it goes away.

Thanks for reading.


  1. I've had these feelings before and they do go away! I think every writer has felt this at some point. My advice would be to keep pushing through and force yourself to keep writing. You're not a bad writer and your work is much better than you think it is :)

    When I feel like I'm the worst writer in the world, sometimes I try writing a different idea I have and forget about my current project for a while. Or I just write for myself and tell myself it doesn't matter if it's bad or not. You can always fix it, right? Hope this helps!

  2. Here, have a cookie Sarah.

    Yes, the feeling that your writing is horrible and you'll never amount to anything and why on earth are you even trying is something that happens to every author. It's even a good thing, since it keeps your pride in check. But it's very hard to get out of the dumps.

    Things I've found useful in this situation:

    Put your writing away. Just get away from it. You don't need that sort of negativity in your life.
    Go for a walk. Fresh air does wonders.
    Write something new. Pull up a blank document, or even better, open a blank notebook, or even just a blank sheet of printer paper and just write. Don't plan it, just let your brain fling down whatever it feels like writing. It'll probably be horrible, but then again, it might be pure brilliance.
    Read some of your old writing. Dig out old notebooks, scraps of paper, whatever you wrote on, and remind yourself how much you've grown as a writer.

    What you shouldn't do:

    Delete your book. This is very easy to do with word documents these days. I've done it. I've regretted it.
    Stop writing. You are a writer. Say that ten times - a hundred times. Even if your writing is bad, you can and WILL improve. But not if you stop writing.

    Oh, and here's another cookie.

  3. I am also in "the pit of despair" as I call it. :P I am no help at this point. But if you get out of it before me, I'd love to know how you did it.

  4. A similar thing happened to me over the summer. Last November, I wrote 50K for NaNoWriMo, and then I spent the next ten months trying to fix the mess I had written (actually, considering it was the first thing I'd ever written, it was semi-decent, but still nowhere near where it could have been.) I learned so much from reading writing books and blogs to the point where I actually understood what I was doing. So, I edited, and edited, and edited (and rewrote,) but ran into the same problems as you where everything seemed like it didn't work and no matter how hard I tried, the characters still seemed flat. I also felt like a bad writer, and that I'd never be good enough because I couldn't fix what I had written.

    About half-way through my third rewrite, I decided to set my novel aside and work on something else. Starting fresh has been such a relief after working so hard on something I knew wasn't working out, and I know that in a year or so (when I've even more experienced,) I can go back and try again if I still believe in the idea.

    Good luck getting through your rut. I think it's important to remember that you'll always be ten times more critical of yourself than others will be for you (I know that's true for me.)

    P.S. I really like your blog :)


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