Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hello, My name is Jennifer and I'm an Overthinker-aholic

MOOD STATUS: "Grouchy". Tired and not happy with the way my story is going.


I'm in a bad place right now. (Writing-wise, that is. )

I spent over five hours plotting yesterday. Yeah. FIVE HOURS STRAIGHT AND I FELT LIKE MY BRAIN WAS GOING TO EXPLODE.
Unfortunately, I think there are still some more kinks to work out before I start writing. Wah.

The good news is I have a premise, a kick-butt title, names for my characters, and a little bit of background on them. The only thing is I'm a little worried that my main character's conflict is a bit weak.

Am I overthinking this story? Well, yes, most likely.


But I can't help myself! I'd much rather suffer now than later after I've written half my story. And oh, how I'm suffering! I walked around in a funk all day. I thought I had done a good job of keeping my story woes to myself. But then my hubby told me how quiet I was and that he was concerned someone had died.

Ooops.


Perhaps I was a little quiet and into my thoughts. But sheesh, you'd think plotting would get easier with time. (It doesn't.) For me, understanding my characters is THE hardest part of writing.

Thank goodness American Idol is back on TV. Whew! Now more than ever I need a little mindless entertainment.

Do you overthink when you plot, too?
And/or...

Are you watching Idol?

45 comments:

sherrinda said...

Five hours straight plotting? Wow! I would need lots of caffeine. I've only got one WIP under my belt and I didn't plot well with that one. This next one will be done differently, but I can't imagine being able to do it in a day! More like a week or two! lol I don't guess my family would appreciate me walking around in a fog for that long! lol

And YES...I love Idol! I'm not sure how I feel about Posh. She is kinda flat, in my opinion. We shall see how the season goes....

Nisa said...

Wow! You know what? I kind of don't have to. I have this awesome husband who sits down with me, finds the plot holes and fixes them. He's awesome like that.

I do over-think everything else, however...

Jennifer Shirk said...

Sherrinda: Yeah, Posh is zzzzzz. But I LOVED that they were in Boston first!

Nisa: Can I borrow your hubby for an hour or two? :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Oh, I'm totally with you. I feel like I have to have my plot mapped out at least on a large scale, and I don't start my draft until the outline is to my satisfaction.

As far as AI, I DVR'd the show last night since they seem to have an hour of commercials for every hour of show. Haven't watched it yet but probably will tonight. :-)

Kimberly Franklin said...

I agree. Trying to understand or figure out your characters is sometimes the hardest part. Good luck! And at least you've got American Idol to help you through the hard times. : )

Nisa said...

Maybe if you schedule in advance. lol! I've got him helping me revise... I keep telling him we should just put both our names on this novel. He's so not interested.

MeganRebekah said...

I love plotting. I could plot for days and have fun with it.

But I am definitely an overthinker. Okay, so lets say my MC is shy. Is she so shy she won't talk to strangers? Or does she just have a nervous habit, like tugging her hair. Does she avoid all people? Who is she comfortable with and why?

Its all these types of things that weigh me down.

Good luck with your writing!

Tamika: said...

Sounds like you accomplished a lot- five hours. Phew! At the beginning it is hard to get all the nuggets, but they surface for me once I given in and start writing.

Happy writing Jennifer!

Keri Mikulski said...

Right with you.. ;) Enjoy!

Jody Hedlund said...

I take weeks to plot and plan my novels. And I finally know I'm ready when I have a gut feeling that I'm living in my character's heads. Then I know I can start their story!

T. Anne said...

I've been heavily plotting out my new WIP this week as well. I thought my premise sounded a bit used and week but have yet to throw in a fallen angel or vampire. So far I'm standing strong. I also (just for fun) wrote the beginning. To my horror it turned into one large info dump with little dialogue for the first six thousand words. Nice thing about writing is we can always start over. I figure I'll use those words in different places in the book.

Diane Craver said...

See, I'm impressed you have a kick-butt title. I struggle with titles for my books. And glad you have names for your characters and some background.

Hope today goes better for the plotting.

Joanne said...

I think plotting intensely really helps the flow of the writing once you get into the story. I do outline, too, to be sure the threads all connect, keeping the writing flowing along. American Idol? I used to watch it more, but find the past few years I watch less and less. I enjoyed the earlier seasons more than now.

Hardygirl said...

Yeah, this is a tough gig. I got a little angry at my friend who has gone back to work dismissing what I do as "fun". I mean, yes. I enjoy writing. I wouldn't be doing it if I wasn't passionate about it. But it isn't all "fun" and it's WORK and emotional turmoil . . .

You're getting there. Great title, premise and characters? The plot can't be too far behind.

sf

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Great question.

Thinking. HA! Thinking. Sometimes, but I like to allow the plot to come at me at its own pace. When I try to cram it all together I notice it feels forced. I take weeks, months even sometimes to make sure the characters and I can get along b/c I know we'll be together for the long haul.

~ Wendy

Stephanie said...

Plotting hates me and I hate plotting. Post your premise on the boards and we can all brainstorm for a strong conflict. And I know you're probably overthinking it, too. ;o)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Forgive me, but I think Idol is getting old. I won't start watching until they are done to the final twelve.

I'm not a plotter so I can't say that I have your upfront problem. Me, I just have massive revisions to do to up the conflict! LOL but crying too.

Cammie said...

I actually don't overthink my plots (or my characters) at the onset. Sometimes this can really bite me in the bum, especially with character development! One thing I've found, though, is that the more I write, the easier it becomes to just start rolling out the writing and let things develop organically.

Natalie said...

Unfortunately I don't overthink my plot until my manuscript is half written and I have to come up with an ending. I really wish I could plot (and stick to it) right at the beginning like you.

Kristen Painter said...

Overthinking plot makes me crazy. I prefer to just let it happen.

Linda Kage said...

Your post feels like deja vou. My husband has asked me what's wrong when I've been lost in plot-land before. Thank goodness I'm not the only one.

destrella said...

Pay me now or pay me later, right? Better to get the bumps worked out now, so the words will just flow when you're ready to write.

No Idol here..... :O)

Stephanie Newton said...

I'm plotting a couple of new proposals, so I feel your pain. Really feel your pain.

As for Idol, I cried when they showed the 16yo with the three Downs brothers story, ran it back so my dh could see it, and cried again. So sweet!

coffeelvnmom said...

I've over thought a lot of things. And what annoys me most is that when I'm not thinking about it at all, the ideas come to me in an instant! What IS that?

I didn't see all of Idol, but the part where the 16 year old girl wanted her grandma to see her get somewhere in her career before she forgot who she was made me sad. =(

On a lighter note, you've received the "Happy" award. Check out "I'd Like to Thank the Happy Academy" at http://coffeelvnmom.blogspot.com/ =)

Patti Lacy said...

Jennifer, I have been plotting since LAST SUMMER on baby #4, spent all day yesterday (when not with cataract-free hubby) and am still working on the PROPOSAL, which does include a detailed plot.

Hey, girl, three books later, I have learned to work out those kinks now...rather than let the publisher do it for you. With An Irishwoman's Tale, it took FOUR Kregel edits. Gulp. Double gulp.

That five hours, even these few months, ain't tasting so bitter anymore.

LOL.

Patti
www.pattilacy.com/blog

Kristi said...

This is one of those posts that I read and I swear that I've really met that person (you) before because it's such a familiar feeling that I could have written in myself!

I have a WIP that I'm just beginning and even though I had a lovely outline finished once I started, something just wasn't right. I have toyed with HUGE plot changes and even a main character change and it still doesn't feel right to me. ICK! Best of luck with yours!

And I too watch American Idol from time to time...the hubby and I watched it last night and were more entertained than we have been in prior seasons! Is it just me or did they do a better job of not showing too many of the "horrible" contestants? The whole feel of it was much more enjoyable than I remembered...but then mindless distraction was needed so who knows? Did you cry? I cried atleast twice with some of the stories...especially the one with the Down's Syndrome kids! I'm WEAK! (and obviously prone to rambling)!

Jill Kemerer said...

Right on! It's worth it to spend the time working on major issues before we write. The more time I spend, the more tidbits come to me. Congrats on starting a new book!

Karen Lange said...

I overthink most everything, and although I am sorry that it's stressful for you, I'm glad to hear I'm not alone:) I'm sure the time you've invested will pay off in the long run. Will be praying for us overthinkers...
Blessings!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Nisa: Ha! on trying to put your hubby's name on the book!

Megan: You lOVE plotting? Eeep. Give me EDITING any day of the week. LOL

Jody and Patti: Yeah, I guess 5 plus hours isn't looking so bad. Although I have much more work ahead of me. WAH!!

T. Anne: You know, sometimes writing all that info dump down can really help you know your story. Good luck!

Stephanie & Coffelvnmom: YES!! I must have gotten teary-eyed a handful of times last night watching Idol!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Kristi: Maybe we HAVE met and don't know it. LOL!

Karen: Yes!! Please do. I need all the prayers I can get. I'll pray for you, too!

Susan R. Mills said...

I'm going to be trying out plotting for the first time with my next project. I'll let you know if I overthink when that time comes.

PatriciaW said...

Yes, and yes, of course. (Did you see the guy who made Cara and Victoria completely lose it last night? Could he really have been that clueless as to how he came across?)

Janna Qualman said...

I'm guilty, too, of overanalyzing everything... but with all in my life, not just writing. Pfft! And I love Idol. It gets better once they're to Hollywood, but I try to watch the auditions too.

Good luck, Jennifer!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I get like that too. It's so loud in my head I don't realize I'm being quiet and scaring people!

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I'm an over-thinker from way back. I too am so looking forward to Idol and Project Runway! Calgon take me away, so to speak.

Cindy said...

I know just what you mean--and I worked myself through the same thing last night. I spent two or three hours working through the planning of a few more of my chapters and I kept thinking that my main character needed more conflict.

It took me sleeping on it to realize I don't need more conflict, I just need to make it clearer and make how it effects my MC clearer, too. I did take a break to watch American Idol, though!

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Five hours plotting!?! Wow, that must be some kind of record - if I even tried that my brain would definitely explode... You are right though - plotting never does get any easier.

Enid Wilson said...

Your head must be bursting. I can't concentrate on writing for more than 2 hours most of the time. Hope you have great results.

Really Angelic

Kimberly Conway said...

I LOVE plotting! I get out my little index cards and plot the day away. There comes a time when I have to stop myself from plotting and get on to writing, otherwise I would just have a bunch of outlines with no manuscripts. But I definately do think that you can plot too much and lose that initial spark that got you excited to write the story in the first place. It's a fine line, really.

Donna Hole said...

Its getting late and I don't have time to read all the comments; so maybe this has been over-said.

Jen; the fact that your hubby noticed you were having issues with your novel, and was willing to be a sounding board - or at least acknowledge your right to care about your WIP - is a good ending to an otherwise frustrating day of writing.

And, you did say you had several triumphs in your writing day!?

Think of your writing time as a normal day job. Nobody accomplishes everything they want is a single day. If you go home at five with things in your "in" basket, you can view it two ways; either you're a lousy employee who can't keep up, or you have job security because no matter how many hours you put in, more work trickles in.

I mean, it's not like you work at Taco Bell (for instance, no disrespect if you or anyone you know does). When you work fast food and the end of your shift comes around, you go home, and someone else takes over the taco production. Nothing piles up.

But as a writer; at the end of your writing time, when your personal life (kids, hubby, day job, etc) ends, whatever you didn't get to is the "in basket" for the next day (next session).

Don't kick yourself if you didn't get it all done in one session. Are you proud of the work you did accomplish? If not, let me help you: your hubby noticed you were bummed and offered support, and you had a list of things you accomplished.

Brush the ink off your palms, grab the hubby and a bottle of Champagne, and congratulate yourself on a succesful day at "work". And congratulate yourself that you've managed to appreciate a supportive family.

And that small acknowledgement will go a long ways in keeping you going during the rough spots of both home and author life.

.........dhole

Terri Tiffany said...

YAY! Amother IDol fan! What will we ever do next season??

Jennifer Shirk said...

Donna: Ooh, you're so encouraging!!!

Terri: I know!! No Simon?!!

Jen Chandler said...

Oh my yes I overthink everything! That's something I'm working on this year: not overthinking my life! Good luck!

Happy Friday,
Jen

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

Happy Friday! I hope you are enjoying your day off.

Plan characters in detail - from the inside out including their preferred underwear.
Research the settings and any other details you need to be fluent in because your characters have to be.

But cut yuourself some slack when it comes to plot. The ability to spot an unexpected twist or turn that enhances your novel can only be good for it.

Thank you for stopping by and posting on my Blog today.

I'm glad we weren't alone when it came to struggling with the synopsis. It isn't just the multitude of things you could say about the book, it's trying to say THE thing that appeals to the agent you are sending it to.

Laura Pauling said...

Wow. I can relate. I do a lot of plotting before I start writing. I need to know where I am going! Of course it changes too. And I am so excited that Idol is back on to carry me through the cold days of winter. You have a totally cute blog! - Laura