Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Terrible Twos: A Guest Post by Joely Sue

The Terrible Twos

I mean Act 2 of course, the dreaded middle. I don't care how strongly a book starts for me, there's always a point where the plot begins to drag. I get tired. I start to doubt the book, the characters, and myself.

Why did I think I could pull this off again?

This is never going to sell.

This book is never going to end!!!

Over the years, I've learned a key technique that helps me find the strength to push through.

Commit  before writing a single word.

This might seem a stretch at first, but in Linda Spangle's 100 Days of Weight Loss, she asks whether you're interested or committed to losing weight. An interested person may start out strong but as soon as something challenges your willpower, it's easy to slip.

On the other hand, a person committed to losing weight will not stop. No sweet treat challenge at work or disappointing "unfair" number on the scale will affect your motivation, because you KNOW you will succeed if you keep on doing what you know is right.  Even if you do slip off plan a little, you have the confidence to rein yourself in and get right back to work, because nothing is going to keep you from doing what you committed to finishing.

Now apply this to writing. Are you interested in writing this book? Or committed? Ask yourself several key questions before you write a single word.

  * Am I willing to dedicate the next x months to writing this book?  Faithfully, butt in chair, every day, without fail?

  * Does it fit within my brand?

  * Have I prepared myself with as much research, plotting, character development, and world building as possible (suitable to your writing process)?

  * Do I believe in this book? Does it excite me?  Do I burn to tell everyone I know about the great idea?

For me, this last question is extremely important because I do most of my drafting "dark and early" before work.  Is this a book I'm going to WANT to get up at 5 am for?  Day after day, despite Evil Day Job challenges, kid catastrophe, pet emergencies, health scares?

If I'm able to answer yes to these questions, then I COMMIT myself to finishing the book. Even if I start slogging through the middle and can only manage a couple of hundred words a day. Even if a new shiny project pops up and tries to distract me.

Nothing will keep me from finishing the $&@%* book!!

Of course revisions are a whole other type of war, but completing a first draft is the first and most important battle.

~ * ~

Joely always has her nose buried in a book, especially one with mythology, fairy tales, and romance. Find her on her Website:; Twitter: @joelysue; Facebook; along with several free reads.

Her latest release is Return to Shanhasson, the final book in an erotic romantic fantasy trilogy.  Also watch for her smoldering hot BDSM novella, Golden, releasing from Carina Press on August 29th!


  1. Excellent post Joely!

    I'm still ironing out the details of #2, as you know, but I love this list and have it as a post-it on my computer.

    So, what's your revisions COMMIT list?

  2. Raelyn, revisions are more about polishing and fine-tuning than simply getting to "the end." I have to knock off all that silt and sludge I might have picked up wandering around in the first draft wilderness! I haven't thought about the questions I typically ask myself -- but that will make a great post!

  3. A huge thank you to Kelli and the gang at ParaYourNormal for having me today!

  4. Joely,

    Well said - I like the whole "Committed" look on it! I was just dealing with this issue with one of my books. I put it aside because I just wanted Committed to it and started on that I am!

  5. Stacy, the "seriousness" of the word commit really works for me. I hope it helps you, too!

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  7. Really good post. I'm the type that commits to a project the minute I plot it out, but definitely rely on my writing group to kick me in the a$$ if I flag a bit or start to lose my motivation for finishing the story.


  8. Lori, I have accountability partner that helps kick me in the backside when I need it. Wouldn't get near as much done without her!