Writing When You Feel Overwhelmed: Hope for the Struggling Writer

How many of you have felt totally overwhelmed when you realized the amount of work it would actually take to complete your story?

I’m sitting here at Starbucks. I’m supposed to be writing the rough draft to Book 3 of The Elysian Chronicles, but I have to admit that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I’m trying to get my arms around the scope of this story, and I’ve discovered it’s much more complex than I originally planned. (Aren’t all novels, though?)

Here are a few things I’m struggling with:

  • I’m actually working with two plots that have to flow simultaneously. Two plots. One story. This means two story arcs. Each arc has to hit the plot points at the same time. Sounds easy to do, but I have to admit that working out the plots of Out of the Shadows (book 2) almost killed me. And then these two plots have to intertwine. Some things that happen on Earth are part of Elysia’s plot and vice versa. It’s like surgically putting Siamese twins. together instead of separating them.
  • Tommy’s character is chasing down clues to how he is supposed to save the world across Europe, while he’s being chased. I know the clues, but I’m not sure what the evil dudes on Earth are up to, nor do I know what anyone on the Elysian side of things is up to. I feel like I’m exploring the woods at night with only a small flashlight. I know I’m surrounded by so many amazing things, but I can only see what’s directly in front of me and a few silhouettes.
  • Davian is now king of Elysia, but I have to develop five years of backstory on how he takes back Elysia, which it turns out, is much more complex than a simple coronation. He’s got an entire bureaucratic infrastructure in place, but he doesn’t know who is good and who still follows Picante. I’m assuming several businesses would have been in Picante’s pocket as well, and I don’t know who they are yet.
  • I have to create 5 years of Earth’s backstory as well. Which is odd, because I’ve been writing the Earth sections and I haven’t felt the need for any backstory yet.
  • I made a stupid decision to bring a bunch of Norwegian trolls back to life. Now I have to corral the things and figure out what havoc they are going to wreak on Earth and how that havoc is going to affect Tommy (and Elysia). (A lesson to all writers: don’t bring trolls back to life.)
  • To be honest, I can’t “see” Elysia’s plot yet. I’ve been focusing on Earth, and Elysia’s stories are hiding from me. This is creating a bit of an issue with the whole intertwining thing.

I feel like I’m rushing through a draft and leaving out important stuff. I’m terrified I’m going to forget some of it. (This is why we all say copious notes. Because regular notes aren’t good enough in this situation.) I’m looking at the work cut out for me, and I keep thinking, “It’s too big. I’ll never get it done.”

How many of you have ever thought this?

Here’s the one thing I’ve discovered that helps me through these situations:

Keep writing.

I kid you not. I remember feeling this way when I first wrote A Prophecy Forgotten. I felt this way again with Out of the Shadows. I know this feeling intimately. I’ve experienced it before, and I know that I will overcome it just as I overcame it in the past. Each time I encounter these feelings, ignoring them becomes easier because I’ve succeeded before.

The first time I felt this, however, I had no idea if I could actually finish the novel. Many of you might be there, working on your first novel, and feeling this right now. I will be honest. The inadequate feelings nearly crippled me. It took writing despite those feelings and finishing the book for me to realize that I could overcome them. The only answer to dealing with self-doubt is proving yourself wrong.

If you are currently in the middle of writing a story and you’re struggling with its vast scope, please be encouraged. You can do this. Wading through your plot and characters and binding them together will be hard. I’m not going to sugarcoat that part. But you can do it. And doing it will give you the strength to do it again on your next project. Because you have more than one story inside you and those stories need to come out.

Just keep writing my friends!

About M. B. Weston

M. B. Weston is an award-winning fantasy, pulp, young adult, steampunk, and paranormal author. Her attention to procedure and detail gives her works an authentic gritty, military feel that takes an adventure tale to the level of a true page-turner. Weston’s writing attracts both fantasy and non-fantasy readers, and her audience ranges from upper-elementary students to adults. A gifted orator, Weston has been invited as a guest speaker to numerous writing and science fiction/fantasy panels at conventions across the US, including DragonCon, BabelCon, NecronomiCon, and Alabama Phoenix Festival. She has served on panels with such authors as Sherrilyn Kenyon, J. F. Lewis, Todd McCaffrey, and Jonathan Maberry. Weston has spoken to thousands of students and adults about the craft of writing and has been invited as the keynote speaker at youth camps and at several schools throughout the US.
This entry was posted in M. B. Weston's Writing Diary, The World of Writing, The Writing Process and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Writing When You Feel Overwhelmed: Hope for the Struggling Writer

  1. Alisa Russell says:

    Thanks for the encouragement! Putting this post in my folder of blog posts to keep.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Glynis Jolly says:

    I got so overwhelmed that I shelved the story. I couldn’t look at it anymore. I tried to continue for months but my brain shut down.

    Liked by 1 person

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