A Wilder Thought

I am having a major problem completing my novel.

I blame blogging and Jasinda Wilder.

Let’s tackle blogging first.  Some days, I really struggle to write anything worth posting.  It’s hard work.  It’s not fun.  And when it’s finished, I usually don’t like it.  On those days, it’s not that there’s a problem with the actual writing itself; grammatically speaking, it’s fine.

It’s just . .  . cold.  Flat.  Lifeless.  A well-written Wikipedia entry.

But then I have the days when everything flows.   I sit at the computer and zap! I’m just along for the ride.  It doesn’t feel like work at all.  It feels like play.  It’s fun.  My stories and essays write themselves, just borrowing my fingers on the keyboard to give them life.

I can feel my face flush with the exhilaration of knowing that I am creating something good.  I am writing things that I will later look at with awe and ask, “Did I really write that?”

Blogging has taught me that, while writing is a business that requires hard work and planning, it’s also something I don’t ever want to give up again.  And that some of my very best work is the stuff that comes out when I’m enjoying myself, not when I’m trying so hard.   And that lesson has made me doubt the work I have done so far on my own novel.

My novel isn’t fun.  I’ve spent two years fighting with it, and it’s still not finished. I’ve started to hate my main characters.  Part of me wants to put the whole damn thing away for a few months and take a break so I can write something fun, but the logical part of me knows I will never come back to it if I do.  I know that follow-through is not my strong suit, and that I tend to quit projects because of self-doubt and fear.

Besides, an agent wants to see it.  I can’t blow this opportunity!

Then there’s Jasinda Wilder.  She and her husband were facing foreclosure when they decided to write an erotic romance novel a la Fifty Shades of Grey. In less than thirty days, she did her market research, churned out and self-published Big Girls Do it Better, and sold more than 500 copies in the first day.   Since then, she has published several more, and according to CBS News, she now averages over $100,000 in sales per month.

I want to hate her.  I want to dismiss her as a talentless hack.   But I’ve read her books, and they’re pretty good.  Not always to my taste; I’m really not a fan of erotica, and my favorite romances tend to be the more chaste ones.  But she writes very well, and I have to say that she deserves the success she has found.

She also seems to be a very nice, down-to Earth person.

But.

If she can knock out book after book after book faster than the speed of light while I do everything but pour my blood on the page, then maybe I’m not meant to be a writer.  Should it really be this hard?

If it’s this hard, maybe it’s just not meant to be.

So I am asking my fellow writers for advice.  What do you do when self-doubt and frustration attack?  How do you keep from being jealous of writers like Jasinda Wilder, for whom it all seems to be so easy?

How do you know when it’s time to give up on a project or just keep pushing to break through the tough spots on your current one?

How do you convince yourself to finish something when it has stopped being fun?

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24 thoughts on “A Wilder Thought

  1. I’m not a writer so I can’t really help you out, but maybe you just need to let somebody else look it over and tell you if it sucks or that you’re being way too hard on (giggity!) yourself.

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  2. I’m betting that if the novel is half as good as your blog, it’ll turn out just fine and dandy. And, for what it’s worth, I agree with The Don…find yourself an audience and get some feedback.

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  3. You’re being a perfectionist, nothing wrong with that. You’re also writing what you love and not pandering to the market.
    I’m not a professional writer. I’ve been trying to finish a dark, coming-of-age novel myself for a couple of years while working a day job My dream is to finish that damn novel. Instead, I’m blogging erotica under an alter ego.
    Everyone has good and bad days. I know what you mean when you say you still have ideas, but they’re cold and lifeless. Some of my blog entries I love, some I’m not too proud of.
    Don’t be discouraged. I try to never compare myself to other writers. When I do, I always find reasons that their writing is better.
    It’s too bad you don’t have someone who could look your work over. I’ve looked at your blog entires and I think you write well. So I’m sure you’re novel will be great!

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  4. Look at your about me: Like any writer, I face a set of challenges every day. Children who need me, a household to run, a husband who rather enjoys it if I look up from the computer once in a while. I also deal with ADHD, Depression, and chronic pain from injuries suffered in a car accident in 2011.
    That’s why it’s hard to finish your novel. I have two toddlers, a wife who deserves my attention, and a full time job. It’s hard to pound out a novel in two months when there are other demands on your time.

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  5. Well, my fantasy novel has taken a year to make it to first draft, and sometimes I get down on myself for how long I have taken, but we aren’t professional writers. We can’t lock ourselves in a room for four hours a day and ignore the outside world.
    Maybe one day…

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    • Christopher, I sort of had the opposite situation. My youngest started school full time and I was alone all day, every day. Seems like a writer’s dream come true, but I fell apart without any kind of structure to my days.

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  6. Excellent Post!!! I am also a romance novel writer who started her journey in March. This week was the first time I started to dislike one of my main characters. Quite frankly, she’s a cold hearted bitch! I keep asking myself how she got to this point.

    I whole heartedly share your feelings about blogging. The past couple of days I have had zero inspiration for the blog but am so proud to have found some really great people out there who provide inspiration, so I will never stop. I feel as though I take more than I give in the blogging world. I hope to be able to share more, as I experience more.

    I am INSPIRED by Jasinda Wilder and hopeful that we all achieve our dream (whatever that may be!) Her novels are next on my “to read” list.

    Thanks for reading my mind today!!

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    • So nice to meet another romance writer!

      I had never heard of Jasinda Wilder before seeing that news story this morning, and I was so impressed by how NICE she seemed. I really, really thought her work would be shoddy and amateurish, and I was surprised to find out I was wrong. I even started following her on Twitter — and she followed me back! Holy crap, Jacinda Wilder is following ME on Twitter. . . . Along with 11 other people! 🙂

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      • That is FABULOUS! After seeing the news story this morning, my husband was over the top encouraging me to finish up and get the book out for the summer beach reading season. Hmmmmm, wonder why……

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      • That encouragement must be so nice! Mine would like me to finish mine too . . . But he’s not as interested in my success as he is excited about my having time to make him some homemade cookies. Priorities . . .

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  7. I hate AND love Jasinda Wilder all at the same time. Don’t they say jealousy is a form of flattery? I hate that some people make it look so easy because I don’t think it’s easy. I work a full time job and write whenever I can. Stealing little moments here and there, half an hour of writing that feels disjointed with the next half hour of writing. It’s really tough. Really. And I hate people who make it look less tough. Or people who can write all day because they don’t have to work.

    Some days, more than anything, I just want someone to read what I’ve written and give me an honest opinion about it. Not necessarily an editor, but just someone who will tell me whether it sucks or not. Whether it’s worth the effort to keep going. Because it is so hard to invest two years in something so uncertain.

    Thank you for writing this post. It makes me feel better to know someone feels the same way I do. And thank you for following my blog, too.
    If you ever want an honest opinion, let me know. Maybe we can trade up.

    And for the love of God, if an agent is interested, keep writing. Do whatever you can. Don’t ever let yourself have any doubts or regrets. I think the only way to make this career work is to give it everything you have.

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    • Thank you — I just discovered your blog through jjhannford, and I don’t know WHY it never occurred to me to search for romance writers here before.

      I may just take you up on the idea of trading up and reading each other’s work!

      About the agent thing — it’s not as impressive as it sounds. I was a finalist in a writing contest last year, and an agent sent out an offer to read the completed manuscripts of all finalists. So it’s not quite a foot in the door. More of a big toe in the door. But it’s something.

      Have you ever heard of Nancy Gideon? She’s an amazing writer who also happens to work in my lawyer’s office. She told me that offers like that are a “perk” of finaling in contests, an that a surprising number of writers never follow up on the offers.

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      • What kind of writing contest was it? Short stories? And I think being a finalist is a great accomplishment. Getting even a toe in the door can be tough. Take whatever good news you can get.

        And I would be happy to trade books-in-progress with you if you decide that’s something you’d like to do. I feel like we romance novelists have to stick together.

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  8. Don’t be jealous of me honey! Did you hear in the story I have FIVE kids. LOL
    I’m kidding. My husband and I had lots of books not do as well. Just keep writing. Get the next book out because that is more room on the shelf. I’m rooting for you. Go, AJ Go! 🙂

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    • Wow, what an honor to have you read and comment on my blog! Thank you so much.

      I DID see that you have five kids, and that your only “splurge” has been the playground climber for them. I hope that I can be even half as level-headed if I ever reach that level of success.

      I hadn’t stopped to think that some of you books might not have done as well as others. Thanks for the dose of perspective, and for the encouragement.

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