Thursday, May 08, 2014

Write Away with Jeannie Watt

What do you do when a story just isn’t working out?
As you may have guessed, I’m exploring this particular topic because my current story refuses to cooperate. I don’t know if this is because it’s not a contracted story, and therefore I don’t have the terror of a deadline to force my brain into producing a story, or if it’s because I’m not on the right track. Perhaps a bit of both.

I make a habit of writing myself into corners, which I then have to get myself out of, and that’s usually where the most interesting parts of the story occur. It’s like some deep part of my brain knows what has to happen, but the rest of me is playing catch up.
But that doesn’t always happen.

       In my first book, A Difficult Woman, I set up secondary characters to star in my next book. (I did it by accident, but the set up was there.) Then I sat down to write that second book and it just didn’t work. I eventually decided it was sophomore book syndrome—as in I was feeling the pressure to prove that the first book was not a fluke—and eventually abandoned ship since I seemed to be wasting a whole lot of time writing and deleting, writing and deleting.  I finally started writing another book off the top of my head and that book worked.  It also sold. Sophomore book syndrome defeated!
The Sophomore book!

Since then I’ve written another sixteen books, and haven’t stalled out permanently on any of them. So what’s the difference between my past books and the one that currently has me flummoxed? I’ve done all the things that I usually do when I know something isn’t right. I’ve cursed, paced, shopped, eaten bags of M&Ms. I’ve also done the following writerly things:
1)   I pressed on.
2)   I let it sit.
3)   I wrote something something else.

The one thing I haven’t done is discussed it with my editor, because this is a lone ranger kind of story. I’m on my own…and maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s because this is my story, not contracted, just me writing,  and I’m feeling that same pressure I felt on my sophomore book. I may be getting hung up in perfectionism.

As things stand now, I’m writing something else and that something else is working, and I’ve wondered if maybe the story that has me wedged so firmly in the corner is one I’ll have to let go…

But I really don’t want to. So I’m going to buy a big bag of M&Ms and give it another crack as soon as I write “The End” on my current wip. In the words of Captain Jason Nesmith, “Never give up…never surrender.”

Jeannie Watt lives in rural Nevada and writes fast-paced, character-driven romance set in the American West. Her latest release from Harlequin is Cowgirl in High Heels, Book 2 in THE MONTANA WAY series. The final book of that series, All for a Cowboy, is a June 2014 release.


  1. I love this post! I have a project that is close to my heart that has been picked up and put down so many times, I should be sick of it. Yet I keep returning to it, because I know it's a story I need to tell. I'm still passionate about the characters and their story. Thanks to all that I've learned in the past seven months of taking my writing semi-seriously, I've got a good synopsis to work from to finish the writing, and an idea how to go about finding the right publisher for it.

    It's really encouraging to know that established authors have stories they are loath to give up on as well, and to hear how they persevere when the going gets tough.

    Whatever happened to that sequel? Did you ever write it? Will you ever write it?

  2. From MarcieR

    What if you gave yourself a deadline? Like a 'fake' deadline. Will that help push you?
    Or maybe you just need to stock up on the M&M's.