Bad Habits

September already and, hey, whaddya know, I STILL have had no word on my sub. First subbed the synopsis of this story in October last year so if I don’t hear this month, it will mean a year’s wait for a verdict on a partial. So all those of you who guessed dates for the Very Soon Sweepstake are all out except Susan – who guessed September the 12th. I suppose my update nearly two weeks ago was kind of a response but I think I’ll hold out for a final answer. Whenever that will be.

So what else am I doing? Falling into bad habits actually. I’m a serial starter – fall in love with a new story, write like crazy, get to chapter 4/5 and then, when the going gets tough, I stop. It’s weird. I know what the conflict is, I know how it should be resolved, I know what the characters need to learn and I know how they’re going to change, so what’s stopping me? It’s the how all of the above happens, I think. They have that lovely first meeting, that first attraction, the acting (or not) on the attraction and the consequences of that, and then I sigh and stop and think ‘so what do they do now?’. Either one of the characters has to do something in order to drive the story along. Something that is based on their conflict, that isn’t external, and it’s always this action that stumps me. Or at least, I have to go for a long walk or have a long shower to think about where to go from there. I tend to get overwhelmed by craft at this point, worrying about how I’m going to make it worse for him, and then how that will make him change, or what that teaches him about the heroine, etc, etc.

Which is why at this point the lure of the new story calls. I have five books all in various stages of ‘done-ness’ and I have not finished any of them. Definitely falling into bad habits again. Need to find some discipline from somewhere and finish at least one of them. There is probably the element of the VoD in here, telling me that they’re all crap and none of them are worth working on. Stupid VoD.

Alright, so what do you guys reckon? Here are your choices: the soldier’s story, the eco-warrior story (conflict STILL not sorted), my computer developer (actually she might be on hold), my geologist/reunion story, and lastly my new story which I’ll call IT girl. My soldier is closest to being done with 27k on the clock. Any suggestions?

Extra special PS:
Maisey’s second book, A Mistake, A Prince and a Pregnancy is out today! Big woots! Go read it, it’s fab!

25 thoughts on “Bad Habits”

  1. I vote you do the soldier. And yes, I’m very aware of the innuendo in that but I’m much too tired to think of a cleaner answer 😉

    PS Lots of hugs for STILL waiting.

  2. Jackie,
    I vote for the soldier story, then the geologist/reunion story but they all sound interesting to me.
    About bad habits. . .
    You sound just like me! I lose steam around the “end of the beginning.” What I found worked for my last manuscript was starting at the end and writing the big black moment when I was still jazzed and full of energy. I wrote from there till the happy ending. Then I went back and started at the beginning.
    Of course, I haven’t sold, so time will tell if that was a good idea or not. I did finish the book though!

  3. Okay, so for the first time in my life I’m not happy that I’m the only one left in the running for the sweepstake. The 12th just seems too far away.
    I’m with Joanne and go for the soldier, haven’t read a soldier story in a long time and kind of like the idea of reading one in the future.
    Go girl!

  4. I’ll add a vote to the soldier…. just so you can get that finished thrill. They all sound interesting.
    Wow this is hard stuff hey.
    I tend to be ok with writing a draft but then get stuck. Do i edit? Do i start something new? Do i sit in the corner and cry that it’s just not happening…. sigh…

  5. Joanne – why thank you, I’d love to do the soldier. Hehe. Thanks for the hugs too. 🙂

    Jill – the end of the beginning is exactly it! Hmmm, interesting way of doing it. Might have a go. Already have notes for the black moment – perhaps it’s a question of working backwards. Either that or just knuckling down. Sigh.
    Vote number two for the soldier.

    Susan – at this point even the 12th is looking unlikely. I’m hoping I get an answer before the NV contest starts at least.
    Vote number three for my soldier. Sadly you may not ever get to read it but he’s certainly a favourite hero of mine. And the soldier part is part of who he is rather than being the conflict if you know what I mean.

    Bec – Vote number four for the soldier! Yay, yeah, he’s over halfway done but I’m at that ‘what happens now part of the story’. Sigh. Once I’ve finished a draft I let it sit for a while and start something new. Then I go back and edit. The distance can be useful. Crying too can help. 😉

  6. Took a lovely online course once, “Book in a Week” with April Kihlstrom. She had five rules you were supposed to keep at eye level at your computer while you write. THREE of the five were various forms of: tell yourself you are the BEST WRITER EVER. She believes, and I agree, that you MUST think positive thoughts about yourself in order to get the creative juices flowing.

    So, I think you need to bring out the bad ass soldier and have him kick your VoD out the door. You can do it Jackie. You’ve done it before and . . . YOU ARE THE BEST WRITER EVER.

    Amy

  7. Oh, and one more thing. You might already do this, but like someone mentioned above, maybe you should start skipping around? Go to a scene you have pictured in your mind already, even if it’s the black moment or the resolution, whatever. I often don’t write linearly. When I get stuck, I skip around. I find that often triggers ideas for the places I was stuck.

    Good luck, Jackie. We’re all rooting for you!

    Amy

  8. Amy – Lol and thanks m’dear! It’s funny, when I’m actually writing and caught up in the story, the VoD is completely absent. I totally love what I’m writing and thinking ‘hey, this is awesome, how can they NOT want this brilliance?’. Those are the days when it’s going well. When the writing is not going well…that’s a whole other story. But you’re right, if you think you’re crap then you can’t write at all. Must buy some VoD ass-kicking boots.
    I used to do non-linear writing but I ran into problems with joining up scenes in that something would happen in the middle that would make the jumped ahead scene wrong so I’d have to rewrite it. But maybe you’re right. Maybe I will have a go skipping ahead. Already have their second love scene sorted out so maybe I’ll skip onto that. hehe.

  9. God, maybe we should start a FTDB (Finish The Damn Book!) Club. I also lose steam around chapters 3 or 4 and think, “Where do I go from here?” I’m starting to think there’s a lot of advantages with being a planner vs a pantser.

    Anyway, I also want to put my vote in for the soldier. Love a man in uniform (and out of it, LOL).

    Funny, I know I didn’t put in my prediction for when you’ll hear back about your partial. But I’ve got a strong feeling you’ll hear something before the start of the NV comp. Let’s hope you do, so you can finally get an answer!

  10. Jackie, I love your IT girl, but I think your soldier sounds SO sexy. I vote for him. And I vote with Amy…YOU’RE THE BEST WRITER EVER!!!

  11. I do this exact same thing. Chapters 4 and 5 are evil. Then I start doing the skipping and unfortuantely I’m not so sure that works well for me-the finished product isn’t pretty.

    Hey guess what finishes in October? The NV comp… you get an editor out of that too… uh huh.

    I vote for the soldier and Joanne, who must be lots of fun to have around even when she’s tired.

  12. Jackie: I posted something similar yesterday on my blog – about starting a new wip. I was told by a fellow writer not to get distracted by new and shiny things. So I guess my vote is for the wip that is closest to being finished. I guess that’s what I should do too.

  13. Angie – yeah, let’s! It’s a weird point isn’t it? I mean, the conflict is all there, it’s just the unpeeling of the first layer – to use Kate Walker’s onion analogy – that I have difficulty with. Trying to be more plotter-y about it but sometimes it doesn’t work.
    Well, have to hear in the next couple of days since NV starts on Monday!
    Yay for the soldier!

    Maisey – You’re a sweetheart. But can I just say that you’re the best writer ever too? So thrilled to see the first book of yours I ever read actually published!
    Another vote for my soldier. Hehe. I may actually be overselling the soldier part.

    Lacey – what is it with those chapters?? Another club maybe? Chapters 4/5 Anonymous or something. Lol re the NV. I may not get anything out of it. I’m hoping for a request though.
    Looks like the soldier is getting his HEA.

    Wendy – you’re so right. I customarily have at least three on the go so that if I get stuck in one, I can move onto another. Otherwise I don’t write and I hate not writing. The trouble comes when I’m stuck in all of them…
    Actually what I need to do is just have a good hard think about what happens next.

  14. IT Girl for New Voices, all the way Jackie.

    You’re a terrific writer, you just doubt yourself too much, which is perfectly fine for a little while…but you must remember to believe in what you do. I suspect you already do or else you wouldn’t sit yourself down every day and write even when you don’t feel like it. Maybe ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like it.

    You’re going to crash the internet when you sell Jackie, because everyone who’s anyone will be just dying to celebrate here with you.

    Enter IT Girl. Please.

  15. Aideen – you’re a wonderful inspiration! And you always know exactly what to say to make a girl feel better. 🙂 Some days I do believe in myself and that I can do it. And, yeah, well, there are the other days too. But pushing through those days is what it’s all about huh? Sometimes the stuff I do on the good days is what gets me through the bad days.
    LOL re crashing the internet! But I like the ‘when’. Bring it on!
    In the meantime, IT Girl is going in. 😉

  16. Gosh, this is really one of the simplest problems to solve. It’s not a Finish the Damn Book Club you need, it’s a Plan the Damn Book Before Starting to Write Club, lol.

    I would never start a novel without knowing at least roughly what was going to happen and in what order. Otherwise, it’s a bit like setting out on a journey with no clear idea where you’re going, except that it’ll be somewhere nice. You’d have to keep stopping to consult a map and consider ‘where next?’, and for a writer, that breaks the creative flow and makes both engagement with your characters and a strong sense of continuity difficult to achieve.

    So there’s my advice in a nutshell. Plan before starting to write. That way you won’t have to keep stopping to think midway through, and you’ll keep writing instead.

  17. Hey Jackie,
    I vote for the soldier story as well.
    When I began writing, I was entirely a pantser. Now I include a bit of plotting into my methods. In depth spreadsheets aren’t my style, but I do like to have a rough idea of what my turning points will be (not every scene in detail…for me that takes the fun out of writing). I start mentally then jot notes on paper. That way, while I’m writing, if I feel lost I can remind myself of where I’m supposed to be headed. Also, once published, submitting on proposal means having a synopsis ready. I guess starting with a rough outline is good practice for that.

    The other thing I do is to stick myself with a deadline that I can’t turn away from. Signing up for a major contest for example. That way I’m forced to complete the manuscript. I’m a one book at a time girl, but maybe that’ll keep you from manuscript hopping? JMHO.

    Now, we’re all waiting on the sexy soldier story. Hop to it! You can do it!:)

  18. Hi,

    Oh lordy, nothing’s changed this side of the blogsphere. Still no news!

    LOL – Wips started and left unfinished.

    Hmmm, sounds like “thrill of the chase” inspires air of lustful writer, and once the exciting first throws of love are ignited or near as damn it concluded (between the sheets) the novelty wears off!

    Bad case of Butterfly Blues! You’ve yet to meet a new hero who’s going to blow your mind and keep you writing. He’s out there – you’re just not looking in the right place.

    Broaden your horizons beyond the familiar – comfortable aspect of present writing zone – and experiment, experience the thrill of going where you’ve never been before in your writing!

    Dive into dangerous emotional waters, or climb high and freefall because there’s nothing to keep you on solid ground. Let loose your wild side and party ’til dawn because it’s your last day on earth, and see who comes to your aid, saves you from yourself.

    EXPERIMENT!

    WAITING kills CREATIVITY.

    best
    F

  19. Jane – yeah, planning. What’s that again? Lol! I’m a pantser alas. I have curbed my pantsing ways in that I do have a vague plan for my stories these days. I know how the beginning is going to go and the end, it’s just that middle bit. And I kind of like to see how the beginning pans out before I decide that. Anyway, probably a synopsis would help. 🙂

    Rula – that definitely sounds like something I should be doing – giving myself a deadline. I do notes as I go along too but sometimes I do do the ‘I’ll just write and see what happens’ thing. And then nothing happens! LOL. Time for me to start planning the rest of the book huh?

    Francine – yep, I’m terribly unfaithful to my mss! I actually love this hero but I think it’s because this story is proving to be a difficult one. Don’t know why. Anyway, once it’s over, I may just try doing something different. 😉

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