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Writing Plans: Why They Can Be Disastrous

by Kellyn Roth |
September 23, 2017

writing plans

I really hate to admit this, but writing is a form of art.
Why do I hate to admit this? Well, I don’t like to think of writing as an art because artists of all sorts tend to get into this attitude of laziness.
“It’s art. Art can’t be rushed.”
Most of the time, this is an excuse for laziness. Oh, don’t you dare give me that look. It is, too! “I can’t paint right now – the muse isn’t with me.” THE MUSE ISN’T WITH THOSE EPISODES OF SHERLOCK YOU’RE BINGE-WATCHING, EITHER, SWEETIE.

But … there is another side to this.
It’s true that sometimes ‘the muse’ does run away and leave you hanging. You have no idea what to write. Every word comes out dry and tasteless. There’s not joy to your writing. Writing feels exhausting and worthless,
And other times, the muse is there! Every word you write has flavor, texture. You’re a regular Shakespeare, and life is good.
I truly believe that there are ways to regain the muse through various actions – taking a nice long walk, reading the Bible, praying, eating a box of chocolates, listening to music – but the fact remains that, at that point in time, writing isn’t working for you.
You’ve lost the muse.
It happens.
You’ll survive.


*circles back to actual subject of post*

Because the muse does tend to desert writers – even for months on end at times – writing can … vary.
Yes, you can keep writing, but it takes twice or three times as long, the quality of your work goes down, which means more revising, which means more editing, which means more time spent preparing your novel, and …
Before you know it, a three-month project takes a year.
This happened to me with Ivy Introspective. I rescheduled the publication several times because I had to rewrite it over and over again. It was frankly quite exhausting, and I just couldn’t get it to come out right.
Sometimes I’d spend a whole day writing just a couple paragraphs.
It was just the opposite with At Her Fingertips (and always has been). It flies from my pen (well, computer … keyboard … whatever). It’s always seemed alive to me somehow. I don’t know why … God decided to bless AFOP for some reason.
(Not to get all “preachy”, but God inspires all things that are awesome, so … you might want to look there, darlin’.) (#notashamed)


Circling Back to Original Subject, 2.0

Because of this fact of occasional – sometimes even frequent – writer’s block … making plans for your writing can be tough.
For instance, at the beginning of this year, I don’t myself I was going to writeΒ Once a Stratton, Caught in a Spell (my fantasy novel), and Interpreting Callie James. I’ve started Once a Stratton but never finished it, and the other two were left in the dust.
(What did I do with my time this summer? I’ve completely forgotten …)
I was also going to revise and edit At Her Fingertips, Flowers, Ivy Introspective, and The Dressmaker’s Secret. Well, at least I got 50%. πŸ˜›
I know that sounds crazy, but I could feasibly do this! Think about it.
Interpreting Callie James would probably be a novella … let’s say 25,000 words. I’ve written 65,000 words in a month; I could probably finish this in a lot less than that. 1 month.
Caught in a Spell would likely be a short novel/long novella of around 40,000 words based on the plot I have for it at the moment. That’s another month.

Once a Stratton.
Longer novel, as it turns out. Two months.
Editing TDS and IvIn took about four months altogether, as we know from experience. It should have taken two in the state they were in; I’ll round to three months.
At Her Fingertips … hmm. It’s pretty easy for me, but it’s a big project.Β Three months.
Flowers, about a month.
That comes out to a year even.
Stupid muse. Stupid laziness.
I’d say that about 80% of my not accomplishing these things comes from laziness – procrastination, that is. That 20%, though? I think it’s the muse. Or the absence of the muse.
For other authors, probably most of that percentage would be life interfering. I mean, I don’t have a lot of life (well, not until recently), so …? I honestly have no clue how they write and have a life. People are awesome. *two thumbs up to the lifers who write out there*


So that’s why making writing plans won’t necessarily work. Yes, you can plot and dream to write and edit five novels this year, but will they be any good? I don’t know. We can only hope.

Now, I must leave, because I do have a lot of projects going on and this is my only day of the week in which to do them.
(And yes, I did spend most of it writing this post … and the rest of it sleeping … and reading … I have a cold … and my brain is dead ….)

au revoir

~Kellyn Roth~

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Does this post make any sense whatsoever? Do you sometimes lose the muse? Is ‘the muse’ even a thing? What are your feelings about writing as an art form? What’s the ratio of books you’ve started to books you’ve finished? Mine is 4 to 1,000,000,000,000,000

What do you think of my thoughts?

28 Responses

  1. Oh, goodness, Kell. Your posts always crack me up. I love them so much! (Even if I hardly every comment… xP)
    And I totally agree with this! Sometimes you just need to stop and take a break. Normally it helps a ton. πŸ™‚
    I hope you feel better soon! <3

    1. Thank you, Jesseca! (And that’s okay … commenting takes too much time! πŸ˜› )
      I should probably take more breaks. Most of the time I just try to plow through and end up not accomplishing anything. πŸ™‚

  2. Oh my goodness, I LOVED this. Especially about the muse not being in Sherlock… I have known people like that…
    Commenting as part of my challenge: rebekahdevall.wordpress.com/challenge/

    1. Thanks for the comment, Rebekah! What a fun challenge. πŸ™‚ And thanks! Yes, I’m not a Sherlock fan myself (although to be fair I only started the first episode and never finished it, sooo?), but some of my friends are … πŸ™‚

  3. Yeah. You really can’t force or rush good writing. I mean, you CAN write even if the ideas aren’t there . . . but your end product will be lacking.
    I tend to do about 70% (give or take) of my writing process in my head, even before I sit down at the computer. So when something isn’t working right, I get up and walk away and start working over it in my head again, from the beginning, because that’s what helps me most.
    Aw, I’m sorry you have a cold! I hope it goes away soon.

    1. Exactly! You can always write … but it’s not always going to be good writing. πŸ™‚
      I can do that, but it depends on the book. I think that was probably part of the reason At Her Fingertips came out well … I’d been thinking about writing it for months ahead of time and I’d played almost every scene out in my head.

  4. That line about Sherlock made me laugh. XD
    Good points. I have to be careful about writing plans because I can be over-optomistic at times. As someone with perfectionistic tendencies, I have to remind myself that I may start the year wanting to write ALL THE THINGS but writing does in fact take time and if I can’t do it all, that’s okay. As long as do my best, that’s enough. Now if I could just get better about resisting procrastination…
    To answer one of your questions at the end, my ratio of books started to books finished is actually quite small: 4 to 0. That’s not counting the 50+ book *ideas* I’ve written down for future use but haven’t started, and I should make note I’ve only been writing for (almost) 4 years, and the first two years were a major learning curve, plus the fact that I have *brilliant* timing :p and those first two years of writing were also my final two years of college. #DontTryThatAtHome
    Anyway, I actually admire that you’ve finished 4 books, no matter how many other books you’ve started but haven’t finished. I’m very much the type who likes to finish old things before starting new things and the only reason I’ve started 4 books without finishing is because my first book decided it wants to be a trilogy, and as I’ve accepted the fact it could take years to finish, I’ve given myself permission to take occasional breaks from it and write other (shorter) things. Which still aren’t finished. :/ Well…the Snow White retelling is in the later half of the story, and I *will* finish it before the end of the year, but I wanted it to be done, like, a month ago, you know what I mean? πŸ˜‰
    I hope you feel better soon!

    1. I have a weird personality, in that I can be very perfectionistic, but I can shut it off sometimes if I make a decision to do so. Which is … weird and means I’m probably not a perfectionist at all. I just sometimes act like one? That makes no sense either. Oh, well, I give up on my personality. πŸ˜‰
      Ooh, impressive! I’m definitely the kind of person who starts books and doesn’t finish them. I do this on a regular basis. If I set out to write a book from start to finish (e.g. for NaNoWriMo), I usually will (usually as in the four times that I’ve finished a novel … although actually 4 is misleading because one was a novella … and if I’m going to count novellas, I should count my little short stories that are 10K or less and that’s too complicated). I think if I’d started writing when I was older, I might have finished more novels. πŸ˜›
      Ooh, same here! That is, my stand-alone blossomed into a series, haha. I’m going to write the fourth book in that series this November. I hope. πŸ™‚
      That’s a good idea! Taking breaks and writing shorter things, that is. I should try that. It might work for me … especially as I generally have a couple different stories going, haha.
      Yep, also writing a Snow White retelling that needed to be done last month. I know what you mean … πŸ˜‰

  5. I love this SOOOOOO much!!! My pesky muse has abandoned me for a long time, and even though I know he’s been gone, I’ve still kept working on my novel. (It has been EXCRUCIATINGLY slow progress, haha! XD ) But he has JUST returned a couple days ago, and I am SOOOO excited!!!!
    And might I just say that I agree with you 100%??? I had so many ‘writing plans’ at the start of this year, and basically none of them have come to fruition quite yet… #OOPS So THANK YOU for saying that writing plans don’t usually work. It makes me feel like a lot less of a failure, haha! XD
    Wonderful post!! I absolutely loved it!

    1. Yay! I hope you’re able to keep writing! I love when inspiration strikes and the muse is there! It makes me really happy. πŸ˜€
      I’m glad you agree! I wasn’t sure if I was making any sense, but it’s so true! You can plan all you want, but you can’t count on writing sometimes. I mean, you can write, but … it’s not going to be quick & easy most of the time!

      1. I’ve actually busted through quite a lot of blocks that have been holding me back recently, so that was really fun!!! XD YAY FOR MR. MUSE!!!!
        It definitely made sense to me! (But I totally understand what you mean. Sometimes I wonder if my posts are making any sense at all, haha!) Ugh, that is oh so true. And also slightly saddening because it would be so much more fun if we had ALL OF THE INSPIRATION, ALL OF THE TIME… XD

  6. Haha I’ve finished a couple short stories, one three chapter book, and 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 unfinished books….. *sigh* I’VE LOST EVERYTHING I CANNOT WRITE I HAVE NO IDEAS (plus I’m lazyyyy)

    1. Well, you did finish something, which is awesome! I know what you mean by a bajillion unfinished books … *moans*

  7. I loved this post. It’s so relatable! And I love what you said: “Not to get all β€œpreachy”, but God inspires all things that are awesome, so … you might want to look there, darlin’.” Perhaps, in some cases, He’s the muse?? Yeah… I don’t know how many books I’ve started, but the ratio is whatever that number to 4 (unless you count a book that I wrote and that my mom helped me print and bind in 5th grade…
    And PS – yes, I did come get up-to-date on my blog because you commented on my most recent post. That’s one of the things I like when you comment. It’s like a reminder to go check out your posts (when I get consumed with other things in life and have been forgetting for a while) and it’s a much more personalized, cheerful way than WordPress feed.

    1. Thank you, Jordy! And yes, I’d definitely say that God oftentimes is – and SHOULD be – the muse!
      That is a great way! I haven’t been super active on many blogs lately … but I’m always glad when I’m able to find time to ready yours. πŸ™‚

  8. I love this! I totally related to not knowing where the time goes. I was planning on finishing a novel by the end of this summer, and well . . . oops.
    It’s also crazy how inspiration comes. I feel like I’ve been switching between my different projects lately because I keep getting inspired to work on different things.

    1. YES, where does all the time go?! Seriously, I want to know. What am I doing that is preventing me from writing a zillion books?! πŸ˜›
      Yes, I can do the same thing. Although I like to outline a lot, so it can be hard …

  9. I don’t know about writing being an art form, but it is certainly a mess. At least, in my life it is.
    This post does make sense! I lose the muse frequently. I hardly ever have the muse. But I have to keep writing or I am sure I would suffer from spontaneous combustion or something just as drastic. Most of the time I write things that I would never show another human being, but at least I am writing and therefore improving my craft. (Right? Right???)
    I have not actually finished any novels but I still have the audacity to call myself a writer. I will get there! I am working on it.
    This is a great post!

    1. A mess, an art form, tomayto, tomahto. πŸ˜‰
      Yes, definitely! I don’t think you should stop writing even when you don’t feel like it.
      You can do it! And thanks! πŸ˜€

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