editing · tips · writing

Wasting Time

Kari Trumbo deadline

I don’t have a personal deadline right now and I have about four irons in the fire, all of them equally vying for my time. I have a novella to edit, but can’t do much with that until I get a few history books in or until I get a few emails answered. There is book three of my Vows trilogy to put back together, which would be fun. I have book two to edit, but I just finished the re-write so it really needs time to stew a bit first. Now, I also have a new story forming and pushing its way to my conscious and I am having trouble ignoring it. If I keep up this process, I will be forever buried in books to polish.

When the story started weaving itself in my mind, I let it do its thing for a few days. I save time if I allow the story to get a good ways in before I put it to paper, it works more of the bugs out that way. I opened up a new word document and over the course of a couple days pounded out 10,000 words. A good start. Then it hit me. Why couldn’t I take the thrill of the story and attempt to plot it as I see it happening in my head? I can surely type a synopsis faster than I can type a chapter.

I began my plotting in very basic fashion. I had, in fact, started a stylesheet, which I always do and will write more about another time. Under the introduction of the characters and their general temperament and character arc I wrote Act 1, Act 2, Act 3. For the first Act, I described what I’d already written, the intro of all characters. Act 2 is the ACTION, and will take up the great majority of the book. I am still plotting that and am on the tenth page of action. Act 3 will be the end game, what happens to dramatically bring the two characters together in a final and complete way, a way in which the reader feels to their very marrow that those two will never part.

What bothers me about this? I feel as if I am wasting time. I’ve tried plotting and found it to be a horrible experience. Why do I keep trying something I failed horribly at? Well, perhaps the problem was the way I was going about it, or perhaps the problem was that I really am a panster at heart. I don’t know, but while I have the effort partially completed, I may as well stick it out. If I decide to try this plotted book for NaNoWriMo in November I will have to toss what I’ve already written and start over. We’ll see if the story will keep that long. I’m not tied to NaNo. I enjoy it, but I don’t necessarily need the driving force or the euphoria that is NaNo to write 50,000-80,000 words in a month.

Do you ever get stuck wasting time working on a new project when you have others you need to finish? Do you plan, and if so, what’s your method? Inquiring minds want to know.

6 thoughts on “Wasting Time

  1. Well, as you know Kari, I recently read “Superstructure” by James Scott Bell and highly recommend it. I have also since read a couple of more books emphasizing the importance- or at least the advantages of outlining, although none of them says it should be something to feel forced to hold onto with a death grip. However, even though the process makes perfect sense to me and I still recommend the books, in practice it has been excruciatingly slow at times. So, subsequently, I have had to keep hold of the goal of completing my outline with a death grip in order to follow through on trying it this way. I’ve decided to try a complete outline because I thought I was a pantster too, when I first started writing my first novel-length story in 2012, but now I wish I had done more outlining before I started, due to several things I’ve discovered about my story, seventy thousand words in. Somehow, I enjoyed writing like a pantster and thinking of myself as one because, silly as it may sound, it seemed more like something a truly talented writer would do. You know, the idea of a tortured genius one hears about that just ‘has’ to write to get all of her brilliant ideas out of her head or else she’s just going to go crazy. Plus, it was just more fun not forcing myself to think ahead. After having done that to my heart’s content, however, I feel that I have wasted time, because I was also outlining anyway, in a sense, but making decisions about the plot as I went along, through experimentation and ‘fleshing it out’ based on how the story sounded after each chapter was written. After having spent hours on an outline, I feel that, for me, outlining wouldn’t seem so laborious if I was starting with a new story, with a blank slate, versus having to go back and change the progression of events, after the fact. I don’t think outlining will be a waste of your time, whatsoever and doing as much of it as you can stand anyway, in the beginning, will actually free you up when you start writing. The writing of individual scenes and chapters should come faster than even writing entirely as a pantster– or so I’ve been told…

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    1. Roses, I’m doing what I call a synopsis, but is akin to a long and loose outline. I’m writing down every situation my characters enter into as it happens in my head. All of it won’t stay, and some things will get added to avoid ambiguity. I’m not saying outlining is wrong, it isn’t. I’ve just never been able to make notes that I could come back to later and remember completely what I had in mind. I’m writing my stories now the same way I took notes in college. Not saying it is right, and probably looks like chicken scratch to most people, but it works for me. It’s also a little closer to plotting, should it work, than I’ve been able to do in the past. My last attempt was an utter boring failure.

      I’m hoping this will go faster in the editing stage and maybe even in the writing stage since I will already know the story intimately by the time I sit down to actually write each scene.


  2. I do the same thing – sitting around letting a plot roll around in my mind. I can hold onto a story potentially weeks, before I begin writing. Because of my book in the process of publishing, I’ve had two stories sitting for months now.

    With everything else in life, I ignore it until it is time to remember. keke Most of the time I force myself to stop and decide what I will do before I go back to writing. However, in truth, the words have to finish chasing threw my mind before I stop.

    I look forward to your post. keep them coming.
    Donna D. Vaal
    The Living Miracle A Love Story – out early 2016

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    1. Thank you, I know exactly what you are talking about. It is difficult to shove those thoughts from your head when you need to edit something else. You almost have to let it run its course so that the past characters can come back to mind accurately.


  3. –and one more thing, I think it is in “Writing the Heart of Your Story”, the author points out that by knowing exactly where you’re headed in advance, it makes the story richer in the end because it’s easier to choose the best places to insert foreshadowing. That also makes sense to me, in my head 🙂

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    1. I do get that sentiment, but like it says in Super Structure (I’m reading it right now, because you recommended it) the rough draft often serves as an outline for pansters, with a lot of work going into the editing stage. I add foreshadowing in after-the-fact when I’m going through and see the perfect opportunity, I add it in. It’s part of the reason I have to edit books so many times before I can allow anyone to see them. Plotters probably can do things more quickly, and I am trying to hone that skill, but it isn’t something that comes naturally to me.

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