Writing the Right Novel

Have you set aside a novel in progress because it was just too hard to write at that point in time? I just did. The futuristic thriller is on hold and I’m back to working on the fifth book in my Detective Jackson series. I feel so relieved.  I still plan to write THE ARRANGER (set in 2023), but I’m not in the right space to do it now.

It’s hard for me to admit something is too challenging, but that’s the truth of this situation. Because I’m still a full-time freelance editor, as well as a novelist and book marketer, I have a lot going on. I feel overwhelmed most days and my writing time is limited to mornings only. Being creative moments after waking up is challenging enough without trying to write a novel that is outside my comfort zone. That’s part of the reason I wanted to do it, but I’m making such slow progress that it feels like not writing at all.

So I’m setting aside the futuristic thriller  for next year when I hope to have more time and focus to write. My priority right now is to get to a point where I’m actually making money from my novels and can give up some of the freelance work.

Which is why I’ve been in revision/edit mode all year, another reason the novel wasn’t moving forward. First I had to write and submit the second draft of PASSIONS OF THE DEAD (Jackson #4). Then I worked through line edits from my publisher for THRILLED TO DEATH (Jackson #3), which launches in print soon. I also worked through line edits of THE BABY THIEF, a standalone thriller that will publish next year and possibly sooner as an e-book.

If that weren’t enough, I decided to dig out a thriller I wrote years ago and revise it. That took time and focus. The plan is to publish the story, FATAL FLAW, on Kindle as early as next week. Now that Amazon is paying a 70% royalty, the income from this book will take me a step closer to my goal of making a living as a novelist. It’s possible my publisher will release it as a print book someday. It’s also quite likely that print books will become less and less of a consideration when I think about my future as a novelist.

I feel relieved and excited about my new direction, but also a little guilty.
Writers: Have you faced this situation? Have you put aside a novel because you just didn’t feel able to write it at the time?
Readers: When series authors take time off to write standalones, do you get frustrated waiting for the next series book? Do you try their standalones?

8 Comments
  1. L.J., once I find an author I like to read, I will read their series and stand alones. I think you made a wise decision to set the one book aside since you were feeling so overwhelmed with trying to finish it. That is why I set aside the second book in the Season’s series and worked on my humorous memoir this past 6 months.

  2. You have to write what you feel passionate about at the time. Thanks for stopping in, Maryann.

  3. I agree, you must be passionate about what you write. I had the idea for my 3rd novel, Hide and Seek, for months and months before I could get around to writing it, because I was too wrapped up in work I’d already started and needed to finish first to clear my head for the new book. I haven’t actually stopped working a novel (I’m only on my third) but I have reached points in both the second and third where I got stuck and had to take a break for a while, do something else (maybe a short story competition) and come back to it later. The break really does work and helps clear the block or the confusion. Writer’s know when something isn’t right. I sometimes get too immersed in the story and have to step back to get a clearer vision of where it’s supposed to go. When you go back to it, it’s so much better.

  4. I am constantly putting down ‘the novel’ in favour of some instant flash-fic gratification. Glad to know I’m not alone!

  5. I put down a novel set in Southern CA in 1928 because I just didn’t feel ready, in spite of scads of research. Hope to return to it soon. Usually, we come back to set aside writing projects with more ideas and vigor. Or not.

  6. I’ve done that a few times. It’s good to hear I’m not the only one who’s put a WIP back on the ‘Do it later’ pile 🙂

  7. Actually, I don’t mind when authors take time off a series to do a standalone… first, it gives me a taste of what other kinds of stories they are capable of. Plus, those who do it seem to come back to the series they are writing fresher, energized, and more likely to turn in an exciting installment. We’ve all seen series authors who keep writing a character long after losing their real passion for that character (Robert B. Parker’s Spenser comes to mind) … I’d much prefer to see standalones if it means each new installment of the series novels an author does is sharper, fresher, and springing from a genuine affection for that character (from the writer).

    As a writer myself, I plan to do something similar, so I can relate.

  8. Phew! I found you again. I lost the link to your blog and found you again via facebook.

    If the work becomes a chore, I think it is a sign that it is time to stop for a short while.
    I have put aside Baby in a Basket which is a first person experiment. I set it aside because My first novel Ripper, My Love was finished this weekend and an idea for a follow on emerged. So I am concentrating on that.

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