Always quirky, sometimes sweet speculative fiction

Stalled Writing

Last year I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time and being a competitive person really wanted to ‘win’. I was quite proud when I met the goal of 50,000 words early in the month. Immediately after my pace slackened and in the final ten days of NaNo I barely managed 5,000 more words – well under my previous achievement.

Originally I thought my sudden lack of progress was a result of having achieved my goal – I sprinted to the finish line, crossed it then sat down to puff and pant instead of jogging on. However, going back to the manuscript now I can see another issue which was probably just as large a contributing factor: my plot outline.

In late October, prepping for NaNo, I moved most of my outline into little plot cards in Scrivener. I didn’t do them all for several reasons, including: I never thought I’d get that far and I like to be a little more flexible with the end half of the novel, because as many writers know things just happen sometimes in the story, while riding on that euphoric, muse-induced typing frenzy ideas you weren’t even aware you were thinking pop out and they cause your story to change course a little. A tight outline restricts this creativity but a softer, looser one encourages you to expand on those new ideas.

So now I’m back in Scrivener, taking my loose little plot outline from a notepad document and trying to put it into little cards so I can finish my NaNo novel before I take part in Camp NaNoWriMo. So far it’s working well, an additional 6,000 words over the last two weeks, slow, but better than nothing. Now lets see if I can’t get myself typing like this guy:



  1. Talitha Kalago

    While I enjoy pantsing more, I write a tenth of the speed than if something is very well plotted. For me its always about finding the balance between fun and speed.

    • Kirstie

      You’re spot on Talitha. For everyone the balance is just a little different, but most writers I know crave the freedom of pantsing it, but need the outline to keep them headed in the right direction (or any direction in some cases).

  2. Kath Lockett

    Well, you’re way ahead of me, and this post is rather timely because some friends just popped over for coffee this afternoon and one asked, ‘So what’s happened to the novel you wrote 63,000 words on during NaNoWriMo?’

    And my answer? “Absolutely NOTHING since then.” I can provide a heap of reasons why – freelance gigs that I grab, tutoring jobs, travelling to Australia, skiing on the weekends, being a taxi service and social secretary for my daughter; taking up any and every invitation to do something with friends here in Switzerland. My favourite one is that I’ll look at it again soon ‘with fresh eyes’ and finish it off when freelance gigs dry up.
    Kath Lockett recently posted..A place in this worldMy Profile

    • Kirstie

      Life does tend to get in the way of writing doesn’t it. Whenever my writing is going great my social life isn’t, fortunately I have a tight little group of friends who seems to successfully be able to pick up where we left off without much fuss. I wish I had the excuse of skiing trips each weekend ;p

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