Monday, December 3, 2012

Deadline, feels like I'm going to lose my mind

I haven't written a FIRST book since 2005. That's when I finished the first draft of Glimpse - it was 30K, a family saga, and nowhere near being an actual novel. I didn't know that, though - my background is in monologue and play writing -I was just stoked I'd told the story I'd set out to tell.

Fast forward to now, almost exactly seven years later, and I'm trying like hell to finish Found, another novel set in the Zellie Wells world. (I've written other firsts in between, but nothing novel length.)

I can't shake the feeling that all the experience I've gained in the last seven years, all the time I've put into becoming a full-fledged AUTHOR, is keeping me from finishing Found.

Sometimes it sucks to know too much. To be aware of all the mistakes you're making while you're making them and not be able to stop yourself from correcting them right then and there.

Found is a cool, interesting story that I want to write - only I can't get away from comparing it to Glimpse and trying to not do all the things I did wrong with that book all over again.

I thought if I approached the writing of Found in a completely different way - if I made a more detailed outline than I ever had before, if I used a beat sheet, if I set a timer and wrote without self-editing - that I could get over myself.

Instead, I've lost myself. There's not as much of me in Found as there is in Glimpse.

Glimpse has around one thousand written reviews across all platforms, with an average of 4 stars. It came out in 2010. When I read my reviews on Amazon (I stopped reading them everywhere else) I pay most attention to the 3 star, middle-of-the-road ones.

From these I've learned that my pacing isn't great, my use of slang is annoying, and that I don't describe things as fully as readers would like. And everyone hates Zellie's mom. :)

So, I thought that by working on making these things better, in addition to having other books under my belt and knowing what I was doing this time around, that I could bust Found out in two months.

My first self-imposed deadline was August. Then it's hopefullybyChristmasfirstweekofJanuaryatthelatest.

Some of my heel-dragging stems from life stuff - I didn't have any kids in 2005, my dad had a heart attack and my parents who usually help me out a ton now need my help ( which I'm more than happy to give!), I signed my kids up for way too many activities, and I've committed to working out at least four times a week.

Therefore, when I get a chance to sit down and write, keeping in mind all of my new rules, following my beat sheet, trying not to's about as fun as getting a colonoscopy.

I read this post by my friend, and probably yours, Megg Jensen and it did make me feel a little better.

What I'd like to hear from you all is: How do you get better technically without losing the joy?

I'm stumped. I'm bummed. And I'd really like to have a new book out in time for all those new e-readers! (Psst. I'm at 40K and have an editor that will read it anytime, so all is not lost.)


Even though she can't finish her latest novel, Stacey Wallace Benefiel can push press 55 lbs. forty-eight times. So, there's that.


  1. Our writers group includes a mini grammar lesson run at the end of our session by our grammar guru. We love learning rules we've forgotten or never learned, but we feel bummed afterwards that we didn't know it already.

    I guess the short answer is I don't know, but if you find the solution, then do share!

  2. maybe it's fear? Just forge ahead realizing it's okay to make mistakes and write that sloppy first draft! good luck.

  3. The bench press IS impressive!

    I could bust Found out in two months.
    This is where experiences authors get lost in the weeds, I think. We expect that we can do better out of the box, crank out a novel faster, simply because we've learned SO MUCH. But the truth is that writing is a process that takes revision and patience and you have to trust your process.

    It took me a while to "find my voice" with this novel I just finished NaNoing. I knew eventually I would get there, if I kept writing (I trusted my process) and eventually it came. Still not perfect, but now I know what I want it to look like, so I'll be fixing all of that on revisions.

    And while deadlines are great, I find they cramp my creativity if I stress on them too hard. Let yourself enjoy it, and the words will come! :)

  4. I can relate to so much in this post. Keep at it. Your stories are awesome!

  5. Great post, Stacey. I would say, don't worry so much about being technically better with a first draft. Just write. Then worry about the technical stuff during edits. =)

    Love the pic. You're awesome!!!!

  6. I think sometimes the writing process happens in fits and starts. You go through these slumps until you hit that rhythm and then it starts to FLOW... and then you can go back and revise the slow bits. Hang in there, Stacey! :o) <3

  7. Dangitall! I just lost my comment... zerg!!! OK, let's see. I wrote something about how this is normal. I find my writing goes in fits and starts, but I try to keep pushing through until I hit that "flow." Then I can go back and revise the bumpy parts.

    Hang in there! Life can slow you down, but try to turn off that editor and just hear the characters and your story. It's hard at first, but keep swimming! ((hugs)) <3

  8. Thanks for linking to my Author 2 Author post, Stacey!

    It's nice to know we aren't alone in these shark-infested waters. <3

  9. You guys are great! It was especially hard for me last month with everyone I know killing NaNo and I only wrote a decent amount of words on another project.

    I'm just going to keep thinking that new e readers have two series of mine to get through before they need something new and that my loyal readers won't mind waiting until Found is good. :)

  10. Everyone has their own natural writing pace. I've been sluggish in mine this 2012 but still produced more than I expected only this one wip I've had a harder than usual time with. But you and I will finish :-D Keep at it, just try to make yourself write a page a day no matter what.