I have a lot of experience with trunking novels.
In fact, all of the novel starts I’ve ever had….have been trunked – well, more than trunked – just thrown out and ignored forever.
All of them, except for my current WIP.
So what’s the difference? Why this one over all the other ones?
First I want to define 3 things: Trunk, Junk, and just being Stuck.
Trunking a novel means tucking it away, in hopes that you’ll come back to it later. Maybe life got too crazy, or you got an idea that you liked more, maybe you’re bored with your current WIP, but trunking a novel doesn’t always mean you’ll never finish it. It’s like putting it on the backburner.
This is when you just scrap a novel all together. You’ve given up on it, or it’s been sitting in the trunk for too long, and you’re doing some spring cleaning and you find that it no longer brings you joy anymore.
It’s important to tread lightly during this period so you don’t end up trunking (or worse, junking) a novel that you’re really only temporarily stuck on. Maybe you haven’t outline enough to get through the second act, maybe you’re in a stressful time of your life and just can’t focus and need to do some stream of consciousness writing to get back on track, maybe a vision board will help you get some descriptors for a building you just can’t fully imagine in your head. Maybe you need to watch or read something in the genre you’re writing in to get some new inspiration. The trick here is to do everything in your power to get that writing energy back – and if this WIP is ‘the one’, then it should be easy.
Like I said earlier, I’ve junked (most) all of the novels I’ve ever started. A lot of them were NaNoWriMo projects that weren’t really going anywhere anyway…some were just my high school angsty writing that I grew out of before I could finish the draft…and some were just stuff I didn’t want to write. I tried writing a lot of novels before I really took the time to learn what kinds of novels I wanted to write.
Aside from my high school angsty stuff, most of the novels I started were novels that I thought I *should* write either because I thought they would sell well (fractured fairy tales, epic YA fantasy stuff), or because I thought they were “literary” (literary fiction, realistic fiction), or because it was stuff that I really did think that I wanted to write (mystery/thriller).
They were important steps for me as a writer and in discovering what I actually wanted to write, but once I realized that, I found that none of these starts had anything worth keeping so they were junked.
I have trunked a few things though. But my “trunk” isn’t full of novel starts, but rather just ideas. Maybe its a scene, or a (very) rough story idea, or even a character. Maybe they’ll go into a short story, maybe they’ll be used for a novel in the series I’m working on. Heck, maybe I’ll put something in my current WIP, and I just haven’t realized it yet. Right now, that’s what my trunk is full of. Stuff that I’ve thought about, but don’t have the time, or the want to really flesh it out right now.
So what makes my current WIP “the one”? That can be an entire post on its own, and I’ve touched a little on it before, but what I’ll mention here is that I can always get myself unstuck with it.
Whenever I think that I need to trunk or junk it, I take a pause and think: “Is this really not the novel for me, or am I just resisting and/or stuck?” and I’ve found that once I go through all of the things that I do to get unstuck (which I’ll save for another post, but consists of some outlining and writing prompts) I find that I can get right back into it. I find that all of a sudden when I’m in the shower, or in the car, or watching a show I’ll get a great idea that will help me get back to working on it.
The short answer is that this project has never been a boring one.
Being bored and being stuck are 2 different things: bored means you don’t want to write it and stuck means you can’t write it. I know that I’m not bored because I still want to write this story, I still care about these characters, I still get stuck though, and that’s just what happens with writing sometimes. And that’s one of the most important distinctions that I’ve made. Being stuck can be solved. Being stuck is a curable thing. It takes work, and its not always easy, but being stuck doesn’t mean the end of a novel. If you’re bored, and you can’t muster up the energy to even try to write….that’s a project killer.
So, I’ve been lucky in that I am almost through Act 1 of a novel for the very first time in my entire writing life (which is pretty much my entire life). I’m still excited to write it, even when I’m feeling stuck, and I can’t wait for you all to read it.