Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group

I can't believe I missed this last month. Shame on me. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for organizing this. Writers need all the support they can get.

So today, I want to talk about shelving. Yep, how to deal and what feelings you feel when you put that baby on a dusty shelf.

Recently, I made the decision to tuck a manuscript away. Ya know, give it time and hopefully write my new one and make it shine.

How do I feel? Hurt, embarrassed . . . just plain out sad. This MS is close to me and I think that's part of the problem. It's hard to close the door to it, even if it's temporary. In a way, I feel defeated because I'm a fighter and it's hard for me to give up on something.

How to deal. I've gone through this period of mourning like I've lost a pet. I know, bad metaphor. All I can do is think about it and why it didn't succeed. Those feelings have to be pushed aside. Because I have too many stories to tell and the only way to learn and to grow is to move on. So far, I've listened to some great music, which has given life to my new MS.

Here are some other things to do:
-Confide in a friend especially a writer friend. Let's face it they understand the most.
-Eat some chocolate. Always helps. Chocolate is such a good friend.
-Go out. Get away from the screen that burns your eyes. Whether it's for a walk or a drive, get out. Just don't forget your journal. Trust me, ideas will spring up.

Basically, whatever you do to get ideas and take a break, do it now. You see, shelving is not the end, it's only the beginning. It a second chance. It's giving your MS time to marinate and grow. When you look at it again, you will see it through new eyes and it will live again.

What do you to get over shelving an MS?

Now go check out the other participants.

Have a great day!


  1. I have no issues shelving a ms... my issue is picking it back up later. I've got a closet full of novels that I just can't seem to ever get out and rework.

    Anyhow. Hello, I'm Rusty, and I'm insecure.

  2. Hi from IWSG!
    I've shelved two MS's. It hurt at first, but the way I look at it is I needed to write those to get to where I'm at now. ^_^

  3. I've only shelved one manuscript, and--like you--I know the shelving isn't for good. For me, that made it easier. Eventually I'll go back, revise and try again. Right now I'm in revisions for my second book--but almost done. I'm also planning to do NanoWrimo (I think I went off the deep end, but I figure I'd give it a shot) haha. So, hopefully that will turn out something worth editing! And then, when that's all done, I'll go back and revise Skipping Time.

    For now, I still miss my MC's. I worked on ST for three years so, in a lot of ways, losing Jess and Cacee was like losing close friends. I have tons of new adventures planned for them. SOMEDAY I will get it published, if only so I can write the rest. :)

    But I think it was important that I shelve it for awhile. I'm sure its the same with you. Like you said, get some new ideas going!! You can always come back to this one and, after a break, you'll see it differently. Good luck! :)

  4. I have thought about this. I am sure I will have to do this at some point and how I will deal with it. I have two MS in different stages of the writing process and one outline for a new story and I am working on all of them at the same time and they are like my pets. I couldn't imagine shelfing any of them, but I know it is inevitable. Part of the process right. Not every thing you write is destined for publication at this time. But, you always have to go back to if the mood or opportunity arises and that way they are never really dead. I love that we talk about our MS as animate objects. haha.

  5. Chocolate is a girl's best friend. I had to shelve one for well over a year. It was hard at first, but it was the best thing I could have done. It's been totally revamped and is now published.

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  7. Setting stories aside can be painful. But I've done so numerous times. Sometimes you need to work on something else rather than stay stuck, and the repair you need to do becomes clearer with time away.

  8. Sometimes shelving it works! I set one aside for thirty years. After a complete rewrite, it became my first published novel. So don't lose hope for that manuscript!

  9. I shelved a couple of stories/characters I created in my juvenile years. I don't think I consciously planned to shelve them and never write their stories again, but I just had created new characters I got very attached to, and have been with ever since, literally growing up with. Recently I felt a pull back towards these characters, whom I created when I was probably all of 5 or 6 years old, and had never forgotten. I'm excited to eventually go back to the 18th and 19th centuries and breathe fresh life into these girls.

  10. I had to shelve a book once. I know what you mean by going through a period of mourning. It is depressing to say the least! But I did move on. I had to move on because this is the first story I needed to get out there. I've worked on other MS's, but had to take this one off the shelf, dust it off and rework it. I'm glad I did. But I didn't do much writing or work on anything else for a very long time. It took some time to get over it.

  11. Shelving is definitely not the end! I've done this twice--put a MS away thinking maybe I just won't ever be able to make it what it needs to be. In both instances, I've gone back to it within a few months, revised it with fresh new eyes and determination and ta da! Awesomeness prevailed!

    You'll get there too Christine! In the meantime, your ideas to regroup are spot on!

  12. I'm not sure you ever do get over it. All I can do is hope those manuscripts will have their day at some point in the future -- when the market is different, when I've become famous (ha!), or after I've discovered the right way to revise them.

  13. I think shelving is one of the best things you can do for a MS that is just not flowing. Your ideas are excellent, get out for a bit, do something different. When my writing isn't going well I take a break and read. Cleaning is something else I do.
    It is so nice to meet you:)

  14. I always take at least a a week after I've finished a manuscript before I look at it again for edits, which I usually do at least 3 rounds of. With that said, I've shelved two books that will never see the light of day, and I thank God for that. Thankfully, third time was a charm and my debut novel comes out in 2 months. I'm a firm believer that everything happens in God's perfect timing:-)

  15. Yay for chocolate! I hope your new WiP gives you more satisfaction and more excitement. Good luck!

  16. Shelving is no easy thing. My first novel is currently shelved, but like you I hope to go back to it someday. The more I am experiencing as a writer and the more I learn about other author experiences, I am developing a theory about shelved novels.
    Here it is:
    A shelved novel is often one of the writer's first, if not their very first manuscript. That means that the content is probably inspired by that writer's first idea that they cared about enough to fuel crafting an entire book from it. It is most likely dealing with some of the issues closest to the writer's heart and ideas that most intrigue them. So ultimately, although it may remain shelved for years... That book still contains the most raw, meaningful and important content to that author which means, after experience built from subsequent projects... that shelved manuscript has the potential to be their best life's work.
    An example of this is Stephen King's The Gunslinger which became the first in the Dark Tower series :)

    Also, Donna, thank you for sharing about your previously shelved that is now published. That is very inspirational to hear.

    Best wishes,

  17. That's exactly right that it's not an end. I semi-shelved Three Daves a few years ago, figuring that was that, and jumped into some other writing adventures that in a twisty-path kind of way led me to the opportunity that dusted that manuscript off and got it out there to the world. So I guess I deal by focusing on the next thing and "just keep swimming."