Monday, February 28, 2011


It's not that I have a nonfiction book to write, two historical articles, one feature article, freelance projects, a novel, and the fact that I am moving in a month that is making me feel overwhelmed.

No. It's my novel itself.

I came up with a stellar idea for my novel about a month ago. It is, to use a cliche, the cherry on top, and will make my novel much stronger and richer. is not an easy idea to implement, especially considering that when I came up with said idea, the novel was nearly finished.

This means going through the entire novel and weaving in this new thread.

Last night, after working on it all weekend, I felt completely and utterly overwhelmed. I also felt completely sick and tired of this story.

Sometimes I wonder why I decided to write novels. Really, there are far easier careers out there I could pursue, and after experiencing such mind-numbing days as yesterday, I have thought about quitting the novel-writing business once and for all.

I won't, of course. I can't. Even now I have a new idea bubbling in my brain and it looks all shiny and new and perfect whereas my current work-in-process resembles an overturned jello salad.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed with a project? Feel free to share your ideas and tips and tools. I need help!


  1. This post pretty much sums up the way I felt all weekend.

    What I'd like to do is attack a bag of m&m's-but what helps me is to clean/reorganize/tidy up etc my work space. In the process of doing that I reaffirm what makes me happy about what I do.

    And a few m&m's don't hurt, either:)

  2. Valerie - I think I consumed far too much chocolate this weekend, which only made me feel worse since I'm supposed to be trying to lose weight. GAH. I need a vacation!!!

  3. If I had a move scheduled, I'd feel overwhelmed, too. I think, to be fair to my writing, I would do what Valerie suggests ... First take this pre-move time now to completely organize your files and thoughts regarding all your projects. Get everything set, to-do listed, prioritized, etc. That way you'll be able to focus on the moving without worrying about the writing, knowing it's organized and waiting for you in your new home :)

  4. Joanne - Good idea. I need to sit down and do that before the packing starts in earnest!

  5. Oh, I do. I'm right beside you there. I want to finish my WIP which I started last April/May. With my other normal work fulltime, it can be hard. Which is why, I decided to pull back some time by cutting back a day from blogging. I've been thinking about it for a while now, to finish this book, I must focus on it, give it the time its worth.

    Good luck with your writing - you have a number of projects! And best of luck with packing too!

  6. Thanks, Talei! I think you're right - sometimes we really need to give our work the focus it needs and deserves. Yeah, I'm not looking forward to packing...blah. But it must be done. I just have to focus on the awesomeness that will be my new office!

  7. It sounds like you have a huge amount to do in the near future. I should think that once the move is complete, you'll then be able to focus more on your writing.

  8. Debs - You're right. I just hate to not do anything writing-related until then, so I think I'll just focus on a few projects. For example, the nonfiction book is on hold until I can make my research trip, so I won't think about that right now. :-)

  9. I've had that happen, too: an epiphany struck when I was almost done with the first draft. Second draft involved a TON of rewriting, in order to weave in the new thread...and yeah, it was overwhelming. My strategy is to break it down into little parts. I'd tell myself, "I'm just working on Ch. 1 today. That's all. I'm not even going to THINK about the rest of the book. Just one chapter." If I set boundaries for myself that way, the task becomes much more doable.

    When I've had that "I'm so sick of this story" feeling, it's often b/c I just don't think I have it in me to rewrite it one more time. Breaking the job into tiny bits helps. But even so, sometimes, I just have to slog through.

    Keep going...the finished product will be worth it!

  10. Ii step away for awhile--focus on something I really love and let it simmer in the background.

  11. Christine - You described it PERFECTLY. That's exactly what I'm going through. I do feel like I just can't do it...but I KNOW it's a good story. I think breaking into parts will help.

    Terri - Yeah, I think after last night, I need to let it sit for awhile. Guess that's a good excuse to start packing!

  12. I think of Anne Lamott's advice of Bird by Bird (have you read that book)? Just basically take things one at a time.

    When in the position you are in I make a list of what needs to be done, then go through it methodically, refusing to get distracted (in theory *g*) by other things I find. And every time I hit a road block, I step back and let it sit for at least 24 hours, then tackle it again with fresh eyes (again, in theory - sometimes it takes Sean reminding me to do this for me to actually do it *g*).

    Good luck!!

  13. I totally know how you feel. Sometimes I wonder if this is all worth it. Hopefully one day I can say that it is. When I'm feeling overwhelmed, I take a bit of a break. It seems to help.

  14. Tess - I've read parts of that book, but never the whole thing.
    :-) I think I will have to take your advice - force myself to sit down and tackle it (after I take a few more days off from it to let it simmer, of course...).

    Patti - I think you're right. A break is what is needed right now. Already I feel better about it - distance does wonders!

  15. Keep plugging away. I've been there more than once, but I'm not sure one time helps with the next.

  16. Yep, been there. The only way I can get through it is to make a list of what needs to be done. It's hard, but you'll get through. Good luck!!

  17. Travis - It seems like this happens to me about once or twice a year. Not sure why. I've decided to let the novel sit for awhile.

    Jill - I may have to make a list when my mind decides it's ready!


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