Fiction,  Writing

Does Your Novel Really Suck?

Every writer that I know, myself included, always hits a wall at some point in their writing process. Usually it’s smack dab in the middle of the manuscript where you look at your book and you think, does this suck? Do I suck? Should I just scrap this whole thing? 


I’m going to give you five questions to ask yourself before you chuck that 70,000 word manuscript into the digital trash.


Do you hate your character(s)?


I’m gonna admit something. This was me. I wrote 70,000 words on a novel that I basically had to toss and start over with because I really hated my main character. If I had stopped, when I started to feel stuck, and asked myself this question, I could have saved myself a lot of time and energy. 


Sometimes we really don’t like our characters, but there are fixes for that.  Before you trash the whole thing, ask if there’s another character you’d rather write about or are you just bored with this character? If it’s another character calling to you, stop and retool your outline and try writing a few chapters from the new character’s point of view.  If you’re just feeling bored, try interviewing your character or journal as them to see if you learn some new things.  You can also throw something kooky at them to see how they would react – it can even be something totally out of the norm for your genre like an alien invasion, earthquake or other natural disaster – you can always toss that chapter later, but you might find you discover something about your character or book plot that will help you feel more excited overall. 


Are you connected to your story anymore? 


Writing a novel is a long process and I believe it’s pretty normal to get bored. We know our stories so well. We live and breathe them every day. We think about them constantly so it’s easy to get tired of our own words. If you’re feeling disconnected (or a little bored), maybe you just need a break. Maybe you need to write something else for a while. A short story, bad poetry, or create some characters for something new. 


You might need a break from writing all together. That’s okay! 

Do you just feel burnt out? 


Are you tired? Do you just hate sitting down to write? To go along with the above question, if you’re feeling burnt out you might need a break from writing all together.  Maybe you don’t wanna think about your book or your characters anymore. Again, that’s okay. Give yourself a time period. One week, two weeks. Don’t give yourself too much time, but give yourself a couple of weeks and do something completely different.


Play guitar, paint with watercolors, take a photo walk with your phone. Whatever YOU think is FUN – do that! Then come back and see if you feel better. 


Do I just not see a way to end this stupid thing? 


Even if you have an outline and have an ending written down, you might have gone through some twists and turns and you’re not where you thought you should be. Now you don’t know how to get to that end.  


When this happens, I like to take a couple of days and journal it out to rethink some things. Do you like where your outline was or not? Do you like where you are now? 


Start from where you are, figure out where you want to go, and then keep writing from there. If you need to take a couple of days to do this, it’s better to do it now than to just keep spinning your wheels or wind up scrapping the whole thing and never finishing. 


Are you judging every word you’re writing?


I do this. This is your inner editor talking. I also believe this is sort of the on ramp to feeling burned out. If you can catch this now, when you’re judging every little word before you get completely burnt out, you can save yourself a couple of weeks of frustration. 


If it is your inner editor, you’ll want to befriend your inner editor and get them on your side.  The easiest way to do this, have a conversation with them, ask them what they’re trying to tell you and how you can work together to keep going. Hopefully they give you some useful information and they allow you to get back to work.  If they aren’t being helpful, make sure you write that down and see if there’s something you can do to quiet the voice for awhile


Remember that this process can take some time, but again, stopping to deal with the issue now will keep you from giving up all together and never getting to The End.


Great, so let’s say you’ve asked yourself these five questions, you’ve fixed the problems and you’re ready to push through and finish your novel – you love your story, you’re grooving again with your characters, you see the ending – but you don’t know how to get there.  That’s where I come in with my 1:1 Coaching Package, Muddy Middle to Manuscript where I walk you through a process to help you overcome your issues, learn more about your plot and characters, and find the needed motivation to get to The End. 


If you have any questions, leave them below.