• Ready to start writing? We're here to help with reading lists, creative writing exercises, and a nurturing writing community.

Writing Rooms

Search the Archives

  • WWW
    Writing Time

Tell Us

  • Post a comment or send us an email.



  • Hittail.com

  • View My Stats
  • eXTReMe Tracker

« About Book Proposals | Main | ArtsDay LA »



If you need some distraction while writing your novel/essay/memoir that never ends, last week's New Yorker has a great profile of Ian McEwan. It's fascinating to read as a writer since it covers his technical approach, but it's also full of just enough personal details to give you all the guilty pleasure of a People magazine celebrity profile read surreptitiously at the nail salon.

You have to register to read online: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/02/23/090223fa_fact_zalewski


Argh! Does it make you feel better that mine isn't even ready for an agent let alone a publisher? If I didn't work bass ackwards by writing it all first and then making it coherent later, I might be further ahead. Thank you so much for your blog. It's my company cause I have no cats.

Lisa Manterfield

Thanks for that wonderful image of you! I know those days. As you know, I have the memoir that never ends. I keep thinking up new angles and new ways to tell the story. And it's the story that never ends, too! I'm going to be a grandmother (step) in a couple of weeks, right around my 39th birthday. :-) More grist for the mill! For the sake of my sanity I keep working on other projects, but sooner or later I have to come back to "it."

It could be worse; your agent could be telling you to turn your manuscript over and use it as scratch paper. :-)

Laura Hoopes

Hi Barbara,
Yes, we can never be fired! What a lovely thought. It reminds me of an old song, maybe Eric Burdon, "You Can't Take Away my Music." I loved that thought too.

It's a choice, really, whether we focus on the opportunity to do what renews and refreshes us or on the less-than-perfect reaction to it by our readers. I suppose both are important, but one is more personal.

Loren Stephens

Well, I am getting new clients, writing short essays, and teaching workshops -- and guess what. I haven't started word one of my memoir of my two Japanese mothers in law. Done the interviews, been to Japan, done the research and am getting calls about when is the book going to be finished. Great guilt trip, those calls. Diversionary tactics, all. Now I need to put the posterior in the seat and start. Truth is I am scared that I am not up to the task -- honoring these women, honoring my husband, etc. etc. Need support. And fear being alone at home (not that I would burn the house down). Hugs to you Barbara, and keep going. After all you are almost there. I haven't even gotten out of the starting gate. Loren


I feel like I'm living the memoir that never ends and getting tired of it. Ugh...

To Teach the Teacher

Thanks for sharing your frustration, Barbara. Although I'm new to the writing on a regular basis thing, I'm glad to know that I'm not alone in feeling overwhelmed when it comes to finishing a piece.


But it gets better each time, doesn't it?


Jennifer - thanks for that heads up - I dug into my New Yorker pile and found it. A great article.

Angela - I love to think of this blog as keeping somebody company. Thank you.

Lisa - Oh and I've been told that on various other projects - turn it into scrap paper (though with euphanisms) Congratulations on the coming grandbaby!

Laura - Right - they can't take away the music or the paper!

Loren - Things sound like they're going wonderfully - but start that memoir! I want to read it.

Elizabeth - I totally understand the feeling!

Theresa - Welcome to the club. Being overwhelmed when writing never seems to end.

Mernitman - Well, certainly better than four years ago when you told me to cut the first 50 pages! (or was it 5 years ago?) Why can't we write these things in perfect first drafts?!

lacoste polos shirts

Great Post! I love it.

Beverly Higginson

Barbara, are you kidding? I wish I could say I only had ONE never-ending story. My problem is starting several stories--not novels, that's way to scary--and being very excited when I begin, and then losing interest a few pages in. I tell myself, if I can't keep interested in writing it, why would someone be interested in reading it? Sabotaged before I really get off the ground. But I soldier on because I've had good feedback on my writing, and I really appreciate the 'Best Advice.' It helps a lot.


Hmm, writing goals I awayls have them 1) At least one e-book release (short story, novella, or novel) a month ~ right now I have things scheduled through May.2) Finish 6 stories in a new e-book series ~ I have one done.3) Write every day (I'm already lax on this one!). As long as I do 700+ words, I feel okay. If I do over 1500, I feel great!4) Finish one novel ~ I'm 11k into it so far, and I'd like to have it done by say June or so. Here's hoping!

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • We publish new posts weekly. If you would like to be notified when new posts are added, please enter your email:

    Enter your Email

    Powered by FeedBlitz

Reading Lists

  • Click on a book or book title and you will automatically be connected to Amazon.

On My Bedside Table

Favorite Favorites

On creativity

Inspiration to Get Started

How Other Writers Do It



Recently Published Memoirs

Memoir for those who can't get enough

Want to Write a Memoir? Read these first

Writing Resources

  • 10 Writing Mistakes
    Pat Holt, an editorial consultant and former editor, describes 10 common writing problems and how to fix them.
  • Amazon Shorts
    A collection of short, never before published, literary works (stories, novellas and essays) that can be downloaded for $0.49 apiece.
  • Amazon Shorts Needs Writers
    Amazon is looking for any previously unpublished short-form work (2,000 - 10,000 words, fiction or nonfiction).
  • Author Network
    An extensive index of writing resources.
  • Backstory
    Authors share how they got started writing and the stories behind the stories.
  • Creativity Portal
    An online creative "sanctuary" for artists and writers. Contains articles, projects, and resources to get your creative juices going.
  • Fresh Yarn
    Read this online salon devoted to personal essays.
  • Imagine Magazine
    "It's never too late to be what you might have been," said George Eliot. Imagine is devoted to helping you create the life you want to live.
  • Screenwriting Tips
    Emmy award-winning Stephen Cannell discusses discipline, choosing your story, characters and structure in this free online seminar.
  • Spoiled Ink
    Poets and writers post their work and get feedback from the rest of the Spoiled Ink writing community.
  • Wordcount
    Need inspiration? This ranking of over 80,000 words by frequency, produces sequences of words ("often seen school money") guaranteed to spark an idea.
  • Writing on the Run
    Filled with tips and exercises to get you writing.
  • Zinkville
    A community of writers and readers, featuring a literary e-zine and book reviews.