top ten ways to not finish your second novel


Bask in first novel glory. Relive the launch of your book, reread the press clippings, get hung up on imaginary discussions of what constitutes genre, where erotica ends and porn begins, notice the tension between wanting peace and wanting publicity, see that you can’t put out work without having to live with what people think of it. There is six months of procrastination in that lot.


Worry about how your publisher will market your next book. Who will they want to buy it? What angle will they take? Know that there will be editing ahead. Consider bringing in an editor before you write so she can make her changes preemptively. It will save time.


Spend hours on your blog. Let blog headings float into your head. Write down ideas for your blog on your iPad, in your phone, on your shopping list, on a paper bag at work. Yes, that’s it, you’re doing it. Now swap worries. Move from how to finish the second novel to how to generate more traffic on your blog. Go to a weekend workshop, Blogging for Beginners. Spend one hundred bucks and learn fifty dollars worth. Fifty dollars is better than no dollars, it will be worth it.


Get on Twitter. My writing partner is on Twitter and having a good time with it so I got with the new millennium and got on myself. Twitter is to distraction as distraction is to procrastination. Or something.


Jealousy is a fast track to not writing your second novel. Eat it up. I’m jealous of anyone with a next book. Jealous of anyone who has completed a draft on their next book (sorry, Carole), jealous of my writing partner who seems motivated (I may have to kill her), jealous of my sons, Karate Boy who is a words factory and this week his ADD is nothing and Stephen King Junior whose excitement can inspire or dampen depending on my mood, who has taken over my office. (If you’re reading this, SKJ, please get your cups and dirty plates out of my office and put them in the sink)


Forget what the thing’s about. Why am I writing this?

Know too much of what the thing’s about. I can’t write this, I know the ending. This is homework. Almost rote. There is no creativity in writing toward an ordained ending!  Yes, my Padwan, to not finish your second novel, irrational you must be.


Cloud-headedness is a must for the non-writer. Have too many ideas.

The newly married sister novel.

The sort of aborted crime novel.

The other sisters novel. This book was meant to be about me and my little sister, Libby, but she died and the story is in stasis.

The new romcom. The love story between the ADD person and the non-ADD person. I don’t know where they’ll meet, don’t know what forces will conspire to keep them apart, I know there will be my home town and a florist.

The kid at the coffee shop novel where, so far, the only idea in the novel is to teach people how to order coffee.


Forget ideas will remain ideas if they’re not acted on.  Simple.


Do not spend time in novel mode. Any writer who is worth their toner cartridge knows that writing takes momentum. Words make words and sentences make sentences. Why? Because ideas, plot points, character and dialogue build on each other. And why? Because writing takes confidence and a good mood. I am most myself when I’m typing so quick the page is chock full of wiggly red lines and I don’t know what is going to happen next. I’m tapping away and feeling the love.


Disregard how much you love writing.

Forget the thrill of a blank page. Forget the honour in a finished story and all the drafts that came before it. Forget that it is you on that page.

Yes. Forget that if you could never write again, if it was taken from you in a finger-paralysing bike accident, or a bump on the head which when you woke up, your letter ns were number sevens, or you put your worries in front of your words and let them stay there, you’d be lost. Identity zero.

Go ahead, never write again.

Imagethese are my cats, they have not written one thing, they are not worrying about their second novels, and they are fine. but, dude, they are not writers they are cats.

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