Frustration: a writer’s bff

A couple of weeks ago one of my writer friends found something that didn’t quite work in Ninja vs Pirates. I thought I was in the edit phase so this threw me off a little. I had to go back and not only rewrite but recreate… which is frustrating… which is good.

What? Frustration is good?  You never think so while you’re going through it, but in order to achieve something unique you gotta go there.  If a plotline pops into your head without any effort, most likely it has been overdone.

So, if you’re faced with a surprise rewrite, think of it as a great opportunity to make the story better. It always turns out better. Or even writing your character into a corner can create fabulous, productive frustration. This is your chance to “figure” your way out. (That’s what I call it anyway- figuring) It’s an awesome thing if the solution is not right in front of you! That means it won’t be obvious to your readers either.

I do my figuring in several different ways:

  • On Paper: I use the computer to write. However, when it’s time to figure, I use a pen and paper. I jot down ideas and any thought that comes into my head. (I usually end up with lot of crazy doodles, too.)
  • In My Head: When it is completely quiet, like when I’m cooking or bathing, I think, think, think: What is the main characters goal at that moment? Did I let my character go through Emotion, Thought, Decision?
  • On The Internet: I don’t know how many times this has helped. I get stuck, stalled right in the middle of writing a scene, and so I go to a search engine and research anything that might have to do with the story. It could be the location, history, slang, depending on the story, just anything to get my brain moving from stop.
  • Out Loud: I brainstorm with my husband: “What if…” and “What do you think about…?” Sometimes he can say something that triggers something else and then other times just talking it out helps.

With this latest hiccup, I used the last method to come up with a new idea. Which my little boy (who I am writing the book for) loved and laughed and said he liked it better than before. “Yay!”

So next time you’re frustrated, be excited! This is where the good stuff comes from. Your story will be all the better for it!

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana 🙂


  1. Surprise rewrites…I’ve had way too many of those! After writing and rewriting, I get into that phases where I tell myself “Okay, self, this book’s done. You’ve written on it enough and it’s as good as it’s ever going to be.” But then someone says something or I get lost in thought and this random thought emerges. Then I realize that the story ISN’T finished, because I just found something I want to change, add, or delete.

    I actually trimmed away nearly 100 pages of content from a novel I was absolutely convinced, just a few weeks before, couldn’t possibly be rewritten anymore. It was frustrating to suddenly discover that my book had grown far too long to be publishable, but also very exciting because I now had an opportunity to take a critical eye to my work and determine what content was truly important.


  2. Hi Jonathan,
    100 pages! yikes! I wouldn’t have a novel left – lol. Yeah, But I totally agree – I think cutting is just as important as rewriting – in fact, I think it is more difficult, and it makes me uneasy. And I do a lot cutting (maybe not 100 pages – lol – but a lot) I always have a file set up while I’m editing named “deleted scenes.” That way, I’m not as scared. I figure if I change my mind, it’s still there. But you know, I have never retrieved a single word from that file.

    Thanks for your thoughts and for stopping by!



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