Keeping a Novel Diary

I think keeping a diary as you write a novel can be a really good thing for your next book. I’m working on my rough draft and struggling a bit right now. I started wondering today, is this how I always feel when I’m writing a rough draft?

And then I remembered, I took notes in a notebook while writing a rough draft back in 2010. So I pulled it out, and sure enough, my notes then reflect how I’m feeling now:

Word Count 5753: At this point I feel like the novel is pointless. I’m wondering if I should pull the plug or keep going. Frustrated.

Word Count 7235: I want to go back to the beginning and fix it because it is a mess, but I know better. Just make notes and drudge through. [I was writing NaNo style]

Word Count 8536: I took a few days off to brainstorm because my story is going nowhere. Very frustrating and wondering if this is how I did my other stories and wondering if this will ever be a story. I’m brainstorming by writing by hand. I have 5 pages. I’m also thinking while I clean, while I take a bath, etc. This is day 2 of brainstorming, and I finally smiled.

And so on my notes go. My thoughts and emotions go up and down throughout the entire rough draft. So by going over past-Dorlana’s notes, I see that this is just my process – the story doubts, the frustration. Now I see that I have to push through it and eventually I’ll smile. And I remember plot-smiles, that’s when a twist or something finally clicks together, and they are so worth the struggle.

Love and Laughter,



  1. This is a really interesting idea. I can definitely see it being helpful during those moments when you don’t think you’ll ever finish. You can look back at something like this and realize nothing is as impossible as it feels in that moment and if you got over the hurdle once, you can definitely do it again.


  2. Hi Laekanzeakemp,
    Absolutely. I wish I had done this for all my rough drafts – but I will from now on. Thanks for stopping by 🙂


  3. I stopped by. @sfarmer76


  4. It is very reassuring to hear somebody who has actually finished a few novels goes through the same struggles that we first-timers face. I think we have a tendency to think that once a writer finishes a book, they’re super-confident about doing it the next time, especially if they’re published. Hemingway said you have to sit in front of your typewriter and bleed. I think he left out the words, “every time.”


  5. Hi Sfarmer76
    Thanks 🙂


  6. Hey mlawrence1966,

    Right – and it’s every time because you forget that you bled – Post Draft Stress Syndrome -lol. The joy of the finished product wipes out all memory of the struggle. After I wrote this post, I remembered I have one on here somewhere about frustration being a good thing. And I know it is, without it the story would be bland. But when I’m in the middle of a rough draft, I forget all that, too – (hmmm … maybe I’m just forgetful)

    Best of luck on your writing – the struggle is necessary and well-worth the reward! Thanks for your comment and for stopping by!



  1. Two Years of my Writing Journey | dorlanavann

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