Making Progress by not making progress

sisyphus12I’m not progressing on my novel. I’ve been stuck since March. But, I’m progressing greatly on the story, and that’s exciting!

I’ve been ignoring the need to answer questions about the novel. Like “how did the world get this way?”, “what happened?”, “why do the people live like that?”. Now I’m not going to put an orgy of backstory into the novel, but my little glimpses were shallow and weak because I hadn’t fully explored their possibilities. So, I’ve been stuck. Stuck with a rock. Sitting down every weekend to write and just pushing the same rock up a foot higher and having it roll back by Sunday night.

Eureka! I just needed to write about “how the world got this way”. Not for someone to read, but for me to understand. I was reticent to do this work because it feels like a waste of time and I want to get this damn book finished. *sigh* But, I think it might be essential. It got me around the rock and headed up the mountain this weekend. And that’s something.

Write well.
Write often.
Enjoy yourself.



  1. Do you make an outline for your novel before you write it? Or do you just have a few themes that you want to include and not have much plot directions planned?

    • tyroper said:

      I did just use themes for my first couple drafts. But I was stuck with too many plot holes. I’ve been planning through the novel now and it is helping. Now I know I can finish the book and that it will make sense.

  2. Aloha Ty,

    You have my sympathy – I know this problem.

    You also have my admiration – you seem to have arrived at a solution far quicker than I did. Just keep writing, and rewriting, and rewriting – every day. Is that the answer? I pretend that it is anyway.

    Some days my story gets longer – other days it gets better.

    A Hui Hou (until next time),

    • tyroper said:

      Yeah, running into this roadblock helped me understand why I should do character profiles, place descriptions, and just general background history. But, I love to write, I don’t like sitting and thinking without writing. So, if I can’t make progress on the novel itself, I can still write around and about the novel. And that’s progress!

  3. charliebritten said:

    Of course you need to work out the back story and your reader doesn’t necessarily need to hear the whole of it. I think you may have hit the ‘Chapter 11 syndrome’, whereby the initial excitement has dissipated and you are coming to grips with the novel proper. Take time out to think by all means. When you get back to writing, you may well feel the need to go back to the beginning. I have, I have to confess… er… several times.

    • tyroper said:

      Thanks. There’s a name for it! I’ve definitely hit Chapter 11 syndrome. I’m starting to enjoy working it out. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Good luck. I get that from people a few times and I do the same thing. I jot down notes and dream about the world. Eventually everything will come together.

    • tyroper said:

      Thanks! So much to learn about this writing thing. I’m learning I need to relax and just let the book happen. Of course I have to write, write, write, and write along the way.

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