distraction no.99

Nova Ren Suma | On Writing & Writing Distractions

Not an Author Newsletter… something else.

Work of Art

Hey, my outline is a work of art, man. I’ll just turn this in, call it a “novel”—we’ll be set.

In all seriousness, as I confessed below, I reached a point in this first-drafting where I needed to have a detailed sense of where I was headed, so I stopped writing and backtracked into outline mode. It’s not really an outline though. It’s all of Act II in notes, reflections, snaps of dialogue, peeks of scenes… I don’t know. E read it and said it’s more like a treatment. Some might say a rough draft. All I can say is that doing it made me feel so much more connected to the middle of the book, and middles are my weakness. It made the book feel alive again. It made me love the book even more than before. I think scribbling out my plans in a formless amorphous blob of possible potential is just part of my process. Must remember for next time.

Anyway, I did that. And then the rest of my life got me stressed. Due to extenuating circumstances so out of my control I can’t handle them, I turned immobile and, well, I did a bad evil thing and I regret it terribly.

I napped.

Two afternoons in a row.

*filled with shame just thinking about it*

I haven’t been feeling well, and on top of that I just started sneezing and I’m probably getting a cold. Also I meant to do twelve things this weekend and accomplished only two and a half. Also my shoe keeps slipping off when I walk. Also I have an appointment at the Apple Store on Tuesday, so I can get the laptop a new case, and I’m having separation anxiety already, wondering if I’ll have to leave my baby with them overnight. Also it’s Monday morning. The sky is falling, whinewhine.

But at least I have my outline! It’s a beautiful thing, really. Like a love letter to the novel I want to write. You can say a lot of things you don’t actually mean in love letters, you can gush and embellish and use mortifying pet names, but in this outline I mean every word.

I feel like making out in a dark corner with my novel for a while. By that I mean I’m stopping this post now to write.

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4 responses to “Work of Art”


    But at least I have my outline! It’s a beautiful thing, really. Like a love letter to the novel I want to write.

    That is beautiful. I love that.

    • I’m sorry to hear that you’re struggling!

      I know outlining doesn’t seem fun—and I was avoiding doing one for the manuscript I’m writing, too, but there are ways that have worked for me that’s more like semi-outlining. “Outline” sounds too formal. Think of it as notes. Scribbling out your dreams and plans and ideas and possible routes for your book—but without bullet points, no numbers, nothing to make it seem set in stone. You may never ever look at it again, but part of you will remember it when writing. And of course you don’t have to stick to anything you’ve put down there. Why? Because it’s not really an “outline.” It’s just scribbles! I like to trick myself that way 😉

      Other things that have helped when I’ve been stuck on a book and feeling like I didn’t know where it was going was to write either 1) the final scene or 2) a chapter-by-chapter outline only for the middle—whichever feels most hazy to me. Go to the place you’re most reluctant to touch and force yourself to get your hands all over it. Maybe it could help?

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