UPDATE: When My Book Baby Needed A Time-Out

Hear ye, hear ye!

My book baby is out of time-out!


The post below describes how I dealt with an unruly manuscript that was spiraling out of control, to the point where I couldn’t figure out what to do with it.  Well, after a weekend trip to Maine which provided me several sparks of inspiration, I have coaxed my 2013 NaNoWriMo effort out of hiding, and back into my start screen!  It now officially has a title I love, and a thread which has the potential to tie the whole thing together.

Of course, there is no way to guarantee that this particular book baby will avoid time-out for the long haul, but for now, we are on a fantastic course.  Wish me luck!  Here is the original post 🙂

Welcome Readers!

One of my Twitter friends asked me a question today, and it kind of got me thinking.  She wanted to know if there was ever a point when you should just scrap a manuscript.

Hmmm.  Let me think about that for a moment.

The Big Question

Who among us has never felt the frustration of conceptualizing a manuscript, plotting, planning, and writing it to the point that we are absolutely certain it will CHANGE THE WORLD, only to discover that it just doesn’t work?

No doubt, many of us have.

My Reality

Case in point:  My 2013 NaNoWriMo project.  As a writer, I was in a phase where I wanted really complicated plot twists and character relationships, and on top of that, a few of the plotlines and characters would span the time/space continuum.  I am befuddled just thinking about that beast.

I got about a third of the way through writing it (from an outline, no less) and found that I couldn’t make it work out the way that I was sure it would when I plotted it months earlier.  That manuscript was taking on a life of its own, and as its “parent”, I just couldn’t keep up with it!  If there was ever a time for me to consider scrapping a manuscript, it was then.

But I didn’t.


I have mentioned this in other posts on this blog, but writing, as are all of the arts, is a living thing to me.  The process of writing is fluid and morphing, and the books we read become part of us, as we live and breathe, taking on a life of their own.  Instead of scrapping that beast of a manuscript, I trunked it; I gave it, and me, a Time-Out for a while.  That manuscript needed to think about was wrong with it.  I needed time away from it as well, to perhaps come up with a plan to better usher that particular Book-Baby into the world with a little more finesse.

Just an FYI, that Book Baby is still in Time Out.  It’s been months.  Neither of us has figured out what is wrong yet but someday we will.  I can’t give up on it.  It is a story which has a wonderful heart and deep feeling, but in its current state it’s just too unruly.  With a little thought and hard work, I feel like my Book-Baby will become a beautiful thing. Perhaps giving it a name will help (wink, wink!)

I don’t know how long it’s Time-Out will last.  It could be years.  And who knows.  Maybe it’s supposed to be more than one book, or maybe something in the universe was telling me that I am not ready to write that story…yet.  It is definitely a “something”, because I still get chills of excitement when I think about it.

So, My Answer To The Big Question:

I wouldn’t scrap a manuscript altogether. Like the unnamed Book-Baby in my example above, I would give it a Time-Out, long enough for the two of us to iron out our differences.

A Few Questions For You:

How do you deal with unruly manuscripts?  When they don’t work out as planned, how long before you set it aside? Have you ever scrapped a manuscript completely?

Share your response in the comment section!

Thanks for stopping by my Writer’s Block!

4 comments on “UPDATE: When My Book Baby Needed A Time-Out

  1. Great post! I’ve put a few book babies into time-out, and they sit on the time-out chair, facing the corner, and thinking about why they became, well, not necessarily unruly, but why they lost me. Sometimes it’s on me–the outline that sounded so good initially doesn’t so much on second thought. Or, I discover what was one story is actually two. Sometimes, I just stall out, and I have trouble pushing myself out of the muck. I have not, however, scrapped a mss completely. Sometimes, like my current WIP, it needs a major overhaul, but looking at all the parts I’ve pulled out and the ones on the outline that need to be assembled sometimes gives me brain-freeze. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one! 😀


    • smnystoriak says:

      Thanks for the comment, Julie! It can be really frustrating, but you are definitely not the only one. I love intertwining plot lines, especially lines that cross time barriers, but sometimes my mind just loses focus, or better yet, loses sight, of the initial vision of the plot. I’m glad this manuscript is coming back into view!


  2. joylennick says:

    Hi Susan A good article and a subject which is familiar to many writers, i’m sure. Excited and enthusiastic, we rush for pencil/pen/computer to trace out that fabulous story lurking in our brain, work feverishly on it for days/weeks/months,.and then? Full stop. It was a good analogy likening your book to a baby, but remember, babies differ in the development process. I have a neice who didn’t walk until well after her peers were scooting around with confidence. But she walks with perfect poise now. It just took her a bit longer to get the knack. Once she did, she was off like a rocket! It is an odd fact, that some books seem almost to write themselves (rare…) while others almost demand blood-letting! One thing i have learned in my long years scribbling, is that very few books benefit from being rushed. The same goes for short stories. Many times I’ve let stories ‘marinate,’ had a ‘eureka’ moment, and felt huge relief that I didn’t send it off…It is frustrating when your writing won’t flow, but it sounds to me that ‘THEN’ wasn’t the right time, for whatever reason, for your book to blossom, but ‘NOW’ IS! Go for it. Here’s wishing you a barrelful of good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

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