This is why we can’t have nice things.

I love it when people ask me if I’m a planner or a pantser when it comes to writing, especially if they’re a planner. There’s always this little glint in their eye, almost a smirk suggesting that if I would only try planning out my works I would sigh with happiness at how much easier it was.

Yes, it would be so much easier. Except I fucking can’t do it. I’ve tried. I’ve tried like I cannot begin to tell you. It doesn’t work.

Want to know how much it doesn’t work? WITNESS.

Right now Fever Pitch, the second book in the Love Lessons series, is due. I have until December 30, but that’s only two months away. Technically it’s 3/4 finished, but it’s all finicky and every time lately I’ve been able to sit down I’ve been pulled away. So I signed up for NaNoWriMo, thinking I’d be all rebel and shit and get my work done while hanging with friends. I’d take the days before to outline the remainder. Again. Because I’ve only done it four times. I’d do it a fifth, and this time it would work. I’d sit down and finish it and it would be great. I’m all set to do that to, and I’m here to tell you, muses be damned, it’s happening somehow. I will turn this book in on time.

The muses, however, are having a throw down. Because they want me to write this. Right now.

Chritstmas Tree


This is something I’m supposed to write too. I was all set to write it after I got done with the one that is due. Sleigh Ride is next in the Minnesota Snow series. It isn’t due until like March or something. It is light and short and easy and should take me a month at best. I can do it while I bake Christmas cookies and hang tinsel.

It will not shut up and insists it has to be written right now.

The problem is that the muses are right. I would do better to clear out my head with this because it’s fun where Fever Pitch is hard. Except I have to write Fever Pitch first for that reason: if I do Sleigh Ride first, then I have to do the hard book when I’m stressed and tossed in ten directions. It’s a bad, bad plan, even though it’s a good idea. It won’t work.

The muses smile at me when I say this and encourage me to make a playlist to go with that nice collage they had me do this morning instead of laundry.

I can already see what’s going to happen. I’m going to end up doing both. I have written two books at once before. It’s not elegant. I’m going to work like hell to stick to this book coming right after I finish Fever Pitch, but I can already see the writing on the wall. If I want Fever Pitch turned in on time, I’m going to have to play their way.

Here’s the thing. Those of you who write or create,  who aren’t eye rolling as you read this? Those of you who are nodding and maybe even getting choked up? You know. This isn’t about invisible people dictating our lives. This is about instinct, about deeper voices than the ones that turn into characters. These are about gut-level guides that who knows where they come from, but they know. Maybe they don’t care about publishing schedules, but they know. They know how to deliver the good books. They know where the gold is, and they know when to fly and when to rest. They know when we’re lying to ourselves and “that little book” is actually soul-deep raw and hard.

I guess you could say it’s less that I don’t have a plan but that I have a deeper part of me that has a much better sense of the plan and overrides my little ones. Maybe it really is that I’m disorganized because I can’t get that deep part to converse properly with the mindful, present part. Maybe this is some kind of crazy flaw. Anything’s possible.

All I know is there’s a librarian and a lumberjack telling me all about what they want to do in the back of that sleigh in Arthur’s shed, about how they hate each other but don’t really, about what they’re afraid of and what they’re longing for, and they’re showing me in crystal colors and sounds how it will all go down. And they swear on a stack of muse bibles that if I only listen to them, Fever Pitch will come out like butter too, better than if I forced it on alone, and yes, it will still be done by New Year’s.

Okay then. It’s a plan to fuck the plan and do the stupid plan that doesn’t make sense but is shiny and feels right. Well, at least everything is normal.

10 Comments on “This is why we can’t have nice things.

  1. Good luck with both of them! And you’re right, those voices – most of the time they’re right. Sleigh Ride sounds like it will be LOADS of fun! Looking forward to it 😀

  2. I’m not a creative type, and this makes perfect sense to me all the same. So far, the plan for no plan has brought us good things. So damn the non-believers!

  3. I’m always working on two stories. I work best that way because I can switch back and forth between them if I get stuck. But they can’t be too similar, or they start bleeding into each other, and the muses don’t always cooperate on that point. Right now, I have three stories fighting it out, and even though they actually are fairly different (one is an M/F! *gasp*), I think three is more than I can handle. But I might have to give in anyway and give it a shot…

  4. I’m glad someone else has arguments with their voices the way I do. LOL I have had books scream their way into being written sooner than I’d planned. Glad I’m not alone on that one. LOL

    And, yes, unrepentant pantster here, too. I use Scrivener to write, which allows me to bounce around within my manuscript, or amongst several manuscripts. LOL Especially great for organizing my series books in one spot.

  5. So I am a Planner, but I also suffer from what one of my longtime critique partners calls Project ADD, where I can have INTENSE SINGULAR FOCUS on one project for a couple of weeks and then I’m all, “Oh, hey, shiny!” and want to work on something else. I actually have the same NaNoWriMo dilemma as you—I have a book that I MUST FINISH because it’s due in, like, three weeks, but I want to work on this other thing, a series I’ve been wanting to write since July. I signed up for NaNo thinking I’d use it to work on the series, but I really should finish the 75%-complete, due-in-three-weeks book before even contemplating the series. But then I was like, “Can I do both? Should I do both?” Because the series is calling to me. I have pages of notes and an outline and maps and all of it and I want to start yesterday, but… but… So ultimately I decided that I’d try to accomplish both during November and let my friends peer-pressure me into finishing the book that’s due. We shall see how that goes.

  6. Heidi and Kate, dear friends and mentors!
    I am so glad to read about this topic today, because I’ve been wrestling with the second novel that won’t come together for more than 6 months. Pantserland inhabitant here. There were 2 key characters who didn’t even make themselves known until page 100 in the first draft. Then in the second draft, one of them told me she had to die 40 pages later, and wasn’t that a big mess to deal with. And then, when I let my writing partner read draft 5, she said, no, gotta kill that woman 20 pages sooner, just gotta. And then there was the motivation that I didn’t even understand until draft 5. Talk about having to backload the whole darn thing! Oh my gosh! And now you tell me there really isn’t an easier way? But I have bought the Plot Whisperer books to try to turn myself into a Plotter. Still, I wouldn’t be anything else. Thanks for the pep talk and understanding! You guys have a great day!

    RRW member Lisa Reuter, writing as Lisa M Owens, who may actually get her second book done before year’s end. Sorry I couldn’t make GRL.

  7. Funny part: This morning, having made that decision last night, I woke at four rested and ready to rock, and by nine I’d ironed out the huge plot/timeline snarl, and more than I ever have been able to can see the way to the end. And I can do it while I draft the new novel. I can already see how it happens.

    So the object lesson is this is what happens when you listen to your instincts, even when they seem illogical. They make craziness seem like sanity.

  8. Pingback: Dogma is Death and Doubt is Your Friend: How to Turn Your Inner Critic Into Your Best Beta | The Amazon Iowan

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