Motivations to Complete Writing a Novel

Confession: I have given-up more times than I’ve succeeded in completing a novel. For example, I have a file on my laptop titled “ABANDONED STORIES” and throughout my 11 years of writing, this file filled up with 20+ documents. Each 5-10 chapters long.

Then I have a file of completed manuscripts. A total of 3 novels completed… (excluding completed fanfictions). But these 3 manuscripts are unpublishable.

Unlike some other writers who perhaps complete and publish the first book they’ve ever written, it took me MANY TRIES before I finally fell in love with the story about a 19th century ‘fallen woman’ (here’s the excerpt of the older version). It’s a story I completed writing in 1 year and began revising for the next 5 years.

However, I’ve tried writing new novels during those 6 years and FAILED EACH TIME to complete it. SO. I totally know how it feels to write while doubting your ability to even complete a novel.

I therefore decided to share some of the practical tips that kept me from giving up on TRC and my other completed works (other than being in love with the plot and characters). Hopefully what inspires me might inspire others as well!

Things that Motivate Me:

  • I never allow myself to write the ending of the manuscript before I’ve written the rest of the story. BUT I always make sure that when I begin writing a novel, I know how the last chapter will end. The desire to reach that ending compels me like CRAZY….because I imagine that it’ll be the BEST of all chapters.
    The Final Chapter of Swan Lake
  • I write, imagining the day when I can type THE END and print out the entire manuscript.  So, yes, during my difficult writing days the desire to press the ‘PRINT’ button compels me.
    Sending this baby off to New York per an agent’s request. Long story short: It got rejected *sniffles*


  • I write, anticipating the day when I can begin REVISING my completed-manuscript at a coffee shop.


  • Looking at pretty book covers also inspires me to write, imagining that one day my manuscript will have a cover of its own.

8378780The House Girl by Tara Conklin51Z9RCVRPEL

  • As a history graduate, I love researching about the past, and details about the past always inspires me to write.

Dear Readers,
What inspires you to keep writing? What keeps you from giving up?

Music I’m writing to:

“So You Want To Be A Writer,” Charles Bukowski

As many of you probably know, I have been complaining to no end about my being unable to start a new project, about being unable to move on from TRC. It’s not that I’m being lazy. I’ve spent hours outlining possible plot lines. I’ve spent hours trying to force myself to start a new novel. I’ve spent hours writing without inspiration. All these failed attempts have literally been driving me nuts. My poor sister had to witness me throwing myself onto the bed, pulling at my hair, and screaming into my pillow. Seriously. I felt that I should be prolific like other writers, being able to work on many projects, or at least writing one story per year. But I’ve finally come to accept the fact that I’m a different sort of writer with her own pace. Yes, I may be slower than other writers–it might “decrease my potential” of becoming an established writer with this slow pacing of mine–but so what? I’m not writing for the money after all. (WARNING: the following piece may be a bit offensive…but it is amazingly powerful):

“So You Want To Be A Writer,” Charles Bukowski

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket, unless being still would drive you to madness or suicide or murder…” When I was writing TRC this is exactly how I felt. However, my attempts these days to force myself into working on a new project, has left me hunched over my laptop writing things I end up rolling my eyes at.

Like this author said, “if you have to wait for it to roar out of you, then wait patiently.”



Patience can be most painful. I feel like I should be busy writing. But sometimes I think it’s important to be still and wait. To wait for that roar of inspiration. And to read and live/experience life while waiting. I now realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being patient.

Speaking of patience, I received a partial request from an agent, and after I submit the first 50 pages via snail mail, I’m going to have to wait a longggg time before I get her response. It’s the holiday soon and I doubt the agent will be reading my work while going Christmas gift shopping.

Symptoms of Having a Writer’s Block

This information shows some symptoms that could be signs of a serious case of Writer’s Block, which should be checked by a doctor or nurse:

  • Incessant sighing
  • Hours of staring into space
  • Pulling at hair
  • Hours of staring at Microsoft Word
  • Hours of staring at a blank sheet of paper
  • Lack of appetite
  • Bouts of kicking and hitting random objects
  • Idleness

I had a few of these symptoms today, but a cup of tea at a coffee shop calmed my nerves a bit. This writer’s block I’m having isn’t so bad as the ones before. I think with a bit more concentration I’ll be able to complete chapter twenty-something that I’m stuck on. Once I do, I’ll only have three more chapters left to rewrite before sending the latter chunk of TRC off to my editor. I really want to have this draft (the ninth revision, I beleive? could be less or more, I forget; I don’t keep track) so that I could return to the beginning and devote my complete attention on fixing up the inconsistancies in plot and character, along with strengthening my dialogues. (The previous revisions were on maturing the plot and characters & making the story flow better) My editor said my dialogues “waxes and wane” too much. And I agree with her. Writing dialogues has never been my forte. But it’s something I hope to improve on. How? By eavesdropping, reading more (perhaps plays?), being more observant when in a conversation….

Oh yes, I think I’ll faint if I ever get a writer’s block over writing about the sea/ocean. Why? A few days ago, I accompanied my cousin to a photoshoot, and while she was shooting, I sat at the beach and stared at the lake (it was big enough to look like the sea/ocean) for three hours. I took notes, and more notes, and more notes. I observed the seagulls, and tried to put into words the way in which they swooped about the sky. I observed the water drawing and withdrawing from the sand, leaving a trail of white foam. I observed this bloated greenish-brown frog’s movement: I scared the frog imobile by throwing a pebble at it, it crouched still on the sand for a few minutes, before it hopped forward once more, but stopped again when I threw another pebble at it…and so this cycle went on until I got bored. I observed the way in which the children would run into the water, then run out, screaming, when the waves came, as if they were being charged at by a flow of lava. (Intermission: I remember I was like that once, finding joy in those little activities–ah, how jaded we become with age). I observed so many more things I would have been blind and deaf to had I not sat before the lake for three hours. (But I won’t post my detailed notes up here. It’s top secret). I’m coming to understand, by and by, how crucial it is for writers to be out in the world, to experience it, when before I prefered to be cooped up in my room writing, thinking that to be out would be wasting my writing time. As Garrison Keillor stated:

“Writing is not narcissism. Writing is abut the world that we live in, and when writing loses touch with the beautiful surface of the world, it loses its way.”

So, even though my occasional writer’s block makes me want to stay at home to brood over a sheet of paper, I’m taking more walks now around this vast, beautiful green field near where I live. And it’s worth the bother. Seriously. Joyce Carol Oates wrote:

“The great English Romantic poets were clearly inspired by their long walks, in all weather.”

Many of the great writers I read biographies of were great walkers. The Brontë sisters especially. Therefore, the message of this post today all comes down to: Let us all walk more often!

Writing. You have bewitched me, body and soul…

As much as I love to write, writing takes so much out of me. I’ve returned back to the last eight chapters of TRC, as I figured out an alternative plotline for it, only to find myself emotionally exhausted. Why? Like other writers I’m sure, when I write, I need to feel what my characters are feeling. Because I never experienced the public ostracism my heroine endured, I had to mentally put myself through it, imagining the shame she must have felt as best as I could, as if I had suffered it in her stead. Now, after writing about all the misery Amanda went through, I feel so low spirited. And NOW I need to work on a chapter that is relatively light hearted. It’s set in the idyllic country side (Cornwall, to be exact–such a romantic place). But I find myself unable to stimulate my imagination enough to write about this scene. My heart is so heavy that I feel unable to write this comedic episode that’s meant to make readers feel giddy. Instead, in the state I’m in right now, I’ll either bore them or depress them to tears. Maybe, when I visit the beach this summer, it’ll help me out a bit. Or maybe I should just skip this chapter for now and move onto the next… This is very unprofessional, but: GAHHHHHHHHH AHHHHHHHHH ARGGGGGGGGGG.