Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why writing a novel is like being in a relationship

Those of you who follow my blog know I often compare writing to a relationship.  There's an indescribable kind of love that connects me with my story, but just like any relationship; there are ups and downs, give and takes, love and hate. 

Stage 1-- The awkward first date (the first chapter)

You've gotten to know your date over the phone or maybe over the internet, but the first time out with him/her is a scary thing. You don't really know what to expect.  Maybe things will go as you imagined, then again, you might realize there's nothing there.  Even if things go well, there's still a level of uneasiness.  You don't know him/her all that well, and your mind races with questions.  Is this who they really are?  Do they have ulterior motives?  Can I trust this person?

Stage 2-- Looking through rose colored glasses (the first half of the book)

The awkward first date is over, and soon you realize you really like this other person.  Each date is anticipated with a tummy-turning giddiness, and soon, you find yourself falling hard and fast, head-over-heels in love.  This person can do no wrong and is perfect in every single way.  You turn a blind-eye to the imperfections and dismiss his/her quirks with a wave of the hand.  The only thing you want to do is spend every, waking hour with the one you love.

Stage 3-- The first fight (your first "trouble spot" or bout of writer's block)

This stage is heartbreaking.  You realize your relationship isn't as perfect as you thought.  Maybe you blame yourself for not thinking things through, or maybe you feel guilty for not trying or caring enough.  Sometimes things get ugly (laptops may or may not get thrown across the room).  Regardless, if you truly love each other, things get resolved and you'll move on. 

Stage 4-- The end of the honeymoon stage

The first fight is over, and as the relationship chugs along, you realize things are far from perfect.  There are problems--big, ugly, in-your-face problems.  But you're determined to make the relationship work; you've come too far just to throw it all away.   You're confident that over time, things will get worked out and resolved.   

Stage 5-- Deciding to stay together or break-up (stick with the novel or shelve it)

This can be one of the most difficult stages.  Do you listen to what everyone around you is saying?  Do you take their advice?  Are you so committed to your other half that you'll do anything to make things work?  Or do you decide to chalk it up as a good learning experience and move on?  This is a very personal decision to make, and only you can make it.  People can give you their opinions (and they will), but at the end of the day, you have to do what's best for you.


  1. Ha! This was great! Though you forgot the couples counselor aka Agent, and the kids(planned or otherwise) aka sequels. :D

    Well done!

  2. That is a great analogy! I am definitely in the first fight stage with my novel, so hopefully we can make it past this. :)

  3. I LOVE this! #5 so true, you have to have real dedication to keep going :)

  4. Since I have multiple WIPs, does this make me some kind of polygamist? Serial adulterer? I fear that I am in the throes of the very relationship problems that you describe so well!

  5. Marian--haha! Yeah, I guess the analogy could be taken even farther ;O)

    Krista & J.A.--Thanks! I'm slowly coming out of the first stage (with my new WIP) and making my way into the 2nd stage ;o)

    Phreshy--you're so funny! Yes, it sounds like you have commitment issues ;o) You're like a WIP PIMP! J/K :o) I wish I was coordinated enough to have several projects going at once, alas, I'm a one WIP kinda girl ;o)

  6. Brilliant! I'm in the editing phase of my WIP, and not feeling the love (or the inclination to edit). What would this be--the "I need space" part of the relationship? LOL!

  7. Haha, love this analogy, especially when the honeymoon phase is over. That's from the middle onward for me, when it gets hard and it isn't so fun anymore! I hope this manuscript I've just written is the one I "marry"! (meaning it goes the distance!) :)

  8. Amen to the last line, People can give you their opinions (and they will), but at the end of the day, YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT'S BEST FOR YOU!!

    As a writer I have to be able to trust my gut. Sometimes it will tell you to bail--get out while you can, other times it will tell you to stay the course. THAT relationship (writer/gut) is one you never want to give up on!! Love this post, dahhhling.

  9. Great breakdown, Angela goat. ;) I want to start dating again, but I have to wait for my editor to pick my significant other. SIGH...

    Guess that would make me love starved. ;)