Creative Process

Using Disappointment to Fuel New Writing Plans

By April 7, 2016 19 Comments
Writing Disappointment

“I’m a writer, you monsters!”

I like what J.K. Rowling said about how writing is not the right career for you if you’re easily discouraged, because damn, after failing and stumbling a lot in the past few years, I’m really starting to see what she meant.

Now that I’m writing the Long-Suffering Manuscript from the guts/heart/some more vulnerable place, simply revising the existing draft isn’t going to cut it. I changed the main character’s backstory, which nudged the plot onto a totally new trajectory and in turn made the whole revision process painfully and needlessly complex.

Today, I’m just going to snip the Gordian knot, outline chapter-by-chapter again, and rewrite everything from scratch. Hopefully plotting and writing will be easier this time around since I’ve gone through the process a few times. I thus present you my new writing and revision plan:


Finish Draft 3.0 by August 1, 2016.

3 WRITING Milestones

  1. Friday, July 1, 2016: Finish Draft 1.0 (92,000-95,000 words).
  2. Friday, July 15, 2016: Finish Draft 2.0 (cut content down by 15%).
  3. Monday, August 1, 2016: Finish Draft 3.0 (polished and ready to send to readers!).

I’m disappointed things didn’t work out according to my original plans, but I’m trying not to wallow. Everything is a learning opportunity. Writing a book will get easier with each try-fail cycle. I think if you believe in your story enough, you’ll find a way to finish it and share it with the world, no matter how many tries or how long it takes. You love what you do and you’ll stick with it to the very end. So here’s to embracing disappointment and using it to fuel new writing plans!

Here’s a playlist I listen to when I need to get pumped up to write/stop self-loathing:

[8tracks width=”400″ height=”400″ playops=”” url=”″]


Millie’s Note: How’s your writing or editing going?

Join the discussion 19 Comments

  • Hi Millie. I am on the same path you are. I am not sure how long you have been writing yours. My first novel was started during ’13 Nano. I’d never written anything bigger than a poem at the time. So I am happy to have a whole story but wow is it twisted up. I also have to start from the beginning. I like all the characters and the basic frame, but nothing else.

    Thanks for the encouragement. Feel free to mail me if you ever feel like giving up again and we’ll both help each other out ^_^

    • p.s. the music has me dancing!

    • Millie Ho says:

      Glad you like the music and found this encouraging. This was inspired by something I heard recently: “You are what you believe”. So as long as people believe they can do something, they will… it certainly doesn’t help to believe the opposite!

      I’ve been writing the same story since around 2011, so it’s been a long time coming. It might be good that you like the characters, since characters are the heart of a story. I’m glad you have that part down. I’m still working on my characters and hopefully they will be more actualized when I start writing.

      I’ll definitely drop you a line sometime! Feel free to send me an email as well if you ever want me to look at your stuff. I’m curious to see what a longer body of work written by you looks like. 🙂

  • Steve Myers says:

    Don’t mind me. I get claustrophobic real easily so deadlines are like flat lines to me. They are death as in they make me crave death because they stress me out to massive extremes and remind me why I never tried to be a journalist., but I understand sort of where they could come in handy, to kick us in the ass i guess, but 20 years on the same paragraph is my limit.

    I’m always discouraged, every day, over and over again. It’s an absolute mind fuck prison, but totally necessary because the liberation of a sentence break through couldn’t happen without it, at least I think so, but then again, maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up and the coffee will fly me 20 pages forward.

    I love that story about the kid crawling up the back steps to the guest’s small room above the garage. “What’s a good day,” the kid asks and the guest says, “A good day? 6 pages is a good day sweetheart.”

    • Millie Ho says:

      What you wrote made me think that being a writer is not something that you are, but something that you have to continuously become or aspire to be. Every new day is a make it or break it opportunity. Some days are better than others, of course, but maybe the key is to be consistent, to write daily, even if it’s a couple of words on a page. At least, that’s what I found has worked for me. Even if I fail at writing something, or hate the outcome, I can at least say I tried.

      There’s a weird kind of comfort in realizing not every one who writes has to love writing 100% of the time. They just use their frustration and plow through it anyway.

      • Steve Myers says:

        Anyone who says they love what they do, all of the time, makes more than a little suspicious.

        • Steve Myers says:

          I meant to say ….”makes me more than a little suspicious” and I’m glad I reread what I wrote because I also reread what you wrote Millie and what you wrote reminds me that what I wrote yesterday doesn’t mean a damn thing today and all my whines don’t mean a thing either. The only thing that matters is, as you say Millie, plowing through and if that doesn’t work either, then I say toss the drumsticks aside and pick up the guitar, clean the inside of the toaster oven, take a bus to the end of the line or run around the block, have a drinking binge, take a trip to Tahiti, something, anything and still, when i, when we all come back, that story we never finished, will be waiting for us like death. Anything else, to me anyway, reeks of a hobby or a pastime.

  • kvennarad says:

    It’s what separates JKR from Jean Rhys – the idea that the ‘Protestant Work Ethic’ is some kind of substitute for genius.

  • kvennarad says:

    “Millie’s Note: How’s your writing or editing going?”

    I can’t set myself such goals, for reasons I won’t bore you with. I get alternating periods of manic activity and absolute stop – that doesn’t help. For instance, I met Irvine Welsh in Perth on Wednesday, and that made me think perhaps I ought to get out the manuscript of ‘Welshday’, my attempt to write something new like a cross between ‘Ulysses’ and ‘Under Milk Wood’ in blank verse, supposedly a day in the life of Irvine Welsh, wandering around Edinburgh in the company of a drunken detective and a ‘living statue’ (IW said I could do this). But then I remembered that I had ‘The Deptford Bear’ sitting untouched for more than three months because I had freaked out and just stopped writing, and I keep saying that ‘The Deptford Bear’ is ‘the book I always wanted to write’ (as soon as I could break out from vampires and kids with magical powers). So, today I am setting myself a modest goal, very modest: some time towards the end of April, or early May, I shall add some value to the manuscript of ‘The Deptford Bear’ one day each week, and see how that goes. If it allows me to ease back into writing, so much the better.

    I admire your goals and I hope you manage to get there, not least of all because I really want to read your finished work.

    • Millie Ho says:

      That’s a good plan, Marie, tackling a project in manageable bites. I admire your creative spurts and how quickly you can get words/images out when you’re inspired. I tried a similar method of writing before I became a plotter, but both life stuff and my own mistakes made the process really difficult. Now after a couple of try-fail cycles I’m starting to see what method works best for me, and plotting gives me that certainty that apparently I really need if I’m going to write a book that’s both honest and something I feel will be enjoyable for others to read. And that’s the key, I think: finding a rhythm that works best for you.

      I look forward to reading ‘The Deptford Bear’ and good luck with your other work-in-progress writings. I will give you a manuscript that’s (hopefully) interesting to read in the near future!

  • aetherhouse says:

    I embrace deadlines (shocker! :P) but I agree – it’s good to not wallow over what was lost/not accomplished. In fact, I think it’s good to set slightly unrealistic goals and to continuously miss them, because just HAVING lofty goals pushes us to achieve a lot. You know that old saying about “shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you’ll end among the stars.”

    Good luck with your writing and editing! I’ve been slow-but-moving on my WIP, and I’ve been avoiding editing Paradisa, despite it only needing a couple more tweaks. My mind has been far more drawn to modeling and graphic design this month, so I have to suppress that urge, lol.

    • Millie Ho says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Michelle! I’m starting to see the benefits of failing a lot, because if I was still barricaded in a prison of fear (of not writing something good enough, etc, and therefore not even trying at all), then I wouldn’t have stumbled and learned what I know now.

      And, yes, aggressive deadlines/unrealistic goals are everything. Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.

  • I firmly believe that success is nothing more than a pleasantly arranged collection of failures. Think about it: Anyone who ever made a name for him or herself has fallen flat on their faces no less than a dozen times. And that’s probably an understatement. I like what Plath said with every rejection letter, “Being rejected reminds me that I tried.” (Or something like that.) A person’s “story” is important- yes; but remember that the story behind the story (or, the “making of the story”) is equally important! You can do it, Millie. Only you can tell the story that you need to tell- nobody else. x

    • Millie Ho says:

      Very well put, Birgitta! It’s like the analogy of a pendulum that can swing towards either success or failure: the more you push the pendulum towards failure, eventually, it will swing towards success. The more you fail, the more you’ll succeed, and in the end, people only remember the successes. J.K. Rowling isn’t known for her many rejection letters–she’s known for Harry Potter. Same deal for Stephen King, etc.

      Thanks for your encouragement. I’ll do my best!

      • “the more you push the pendulum towards failure, eventually, it will swing towards success.” <<< I like that Millie Ho. :0) And good way of looking at it about you and other writers being remembered by your successes. The last five years of school/college have been butt-kicking (to say the least) and everything from my house cracking in half to serious car wrecks could have been my final nails in the coffin, They were catalysts instead. I say, don't only endure failures- celebrate them. They're the supporting beams to everything. Wish you all the best! x

  • As they say, writing is rewriting!

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