Why I haven't finished my WIP

By all standards, I’m a brave soul. Confident, comfortable in my own skin, willing to say what I feel, at least on the blog- that describes me to a reasonable extent.

I’m also pretty organised and go about my day with clearly chalked-out time zones for my work and chores. Yes, social media is a distraction but it has dropped to a mild noise in the background instead of being the main score in my mundane existence.

So, why then have I not finished my work in progress? It was February of this year when I started work on it and it’s only at 6500 words.


It’s non-fiction, by the way, which makes it that much harder, since I have to sift through my memories and make sure I don’t mix up emotion with fact. Details have to be painstakingly clear and written with a precision that would put a cartographer to shame.

Time is no longer willing to stand idly by and take the blame for me, since my brain does a decent job of using the minutes at my disposal.

Interestingly enough, it was when I was reading a post on another’s blog and when I left a comment there that the answer came to me.

I’m wary.

A writer from the pre-Internet era had a distinct advantage over the ones who put pen to paper today. (We don’t put pen to paper, obviously, but you get the picture). They were not subject to the instantaneous fame/infamy that came their way thanks to the foghorn that is social media.

A work published today, if marketed reasonably well, will have readers within the first week. In some cases, the critics will start sharing their views within half a day of laying their hands on the books.

In many cases, there will be the armchair critics, the annoyed readers and the ones who have a personal grudge against the author, who won’t hesitate to rip the work to shreds, based on a private vendetta. Still others who read the book may give it a low rating simply because a small portion of it didn’t appeal to them.

That bad review, that rating without forethought, that criticism is what keeps me from finishing the work. It’s bad enough that it’s a topic which is likely to stoke controversy in some circles. It’s equally likely that some people may come off seeming like the bad guys in the larger picture. I’m fairly certain that there are going to be more than a few ruffled feathers and severed friendships.

What I can do without is the quick draw that hampers judgement. What I can hope for is a complete reading and a balanced review.

It shouldn’t keep me from writing. Most days, unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens.


44 thoughts on “Why I haven't finished my WIP

  1. You know the question and you know the answer too 😉 So it shouldn’t be stopping you from writing longer.. Come on Shailaja, there are far too many people in blog space for you who’d review it unbiased. Just write! That’s all!

  2. Shailaja, what flows frm your nib is the ink of sincerity and excellent writing. Do not stop, pause you may,to inhale deeply and ponder over. The waxing of the moon is followed by the waning and the cycle continues. Bouquets will follow brickbats. Laws of Nature.

  3. Oh Shailaja, just write..as you do. Write from your heart. And it will touch people’s heart, of that I’m sure. There maybe a few who don’t understand but then again we can’t please anyone and that frankly aiming to that wouldn’t be fair to yourself. Just write because you love it, because the words need to be written. Whenever you feel this fear coming at you, practice zen…be in the present and just write! Lots of love and hoping to read your book soon!

  4. You have articulated your concerns so well Shailaja… the concern about judgement and criticism, ruffling a few feathers… this is one brutally honest post.

    As Neil Gaimann has said, “The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” All the best!

  5. The most important part is to keep on moving, you can’t be distracted by what others would think of your work! Write for yourself first and see how people take it…each one is different, so there will be some (or maybe many) takers too.

    Good luck, hope you complete the pending task soon 🙂

  6. I understand your point. But ultimately you are writing for yourself, yes? The infamy is secondary. Probably the toughest part of writing for me is developing the thick skin and confidence required to soldier on.

  7. I can so hear your frustration with yourself. Your mind knows exactly what the problem is, yet your body, your fingers will not cooperate. They won’t open the files. I’ve only recently joined this community, but from what I’ve read of yours, I have a pretty good feeling that you will overcome your reluctance.

  8. I know what you are talking about. I have started work on my WIP and like yours, it’s still stuck at 6K odd words. I guess the only way to break the jinx is to sit and write. Easier said than done! But I really hope you finish it soon, Shailaja 🙂

  9. Dear Shailja, I have read what you had written during AtoZ and loved all the posts and very frankly your writing is at the level of finest writers. Believe me when I say that, I have been in touch with the writing community for the past 18months (prior to that I was only reader) and have read lots aspiring, budding and debut authors.

    Having said that your fears are quite normal and they would make you write a perfect piece.

    Onto my story, just FYI, I wrote Take2 in 3 months, then edited it for 9 months, and sat on it for 3 more months because of that fear. I was sure that no one would like it. It came as a surprise when people liked it, but I have received a few lukewarm response and one pretty critical. Now also, after six months, if I come to know that anyone is reading it, I am scared of the reactions. But its okay, I have come to realize that not everyone would like my story. There are various kind of people who prefer different type/ genre/subject of entertainment, its just that, that match was not right when they picked up my book.

    So go ahead write your heart out, complete that WIP and rejoice in the process! All the best!!

  10. This post makes me wonder if I happen to know a certain unfavorable review that led to this.

    But that aside, what people think or might think once the book is out, should be the last thing on your mind while writing the book. While its only human to be affected by this, always know that you cannot please everybody. Mother Theresa has her critics. So does GOD. Need I say more?

    Having said that, knowing you and the way you write, you have the gift of touching people by your words. Not everybody who writes can do that. Please don’t squander it. I am telling this from a place of love. Just keep in mind all the lives you can touch and all the people you can help through your book, and let that be your dominant thought process.

    Also, whether you ever write a book or not, you will have your supporters, and you will have your critics in anything that you do. So why not do the thing that brings YOU joy?

    P.S. If you need a beta reader, you have me. 🙂 If you need a friendly (or not) nudge to complete, or even someone to vent to, just holler. 🙂 <3

  11. the anticipation of being successful really kills the joy of writing. It also makes us write what would sell instead of writing what we want to write. Always, always go back to ‘for whom are you writing?’ and you will have the answer.

  12. Such good comments by all, it’s hard to add anything new. I think you should write for yourself and one other person out there in reader-land. Maybe Sid. Maybe me. Write because you must. Write because it feels good to you. Write to release the stuff that needs to be released. Write for personal peace. Anything else is meaningless and serves no one except the demons of “if”.

  13. I haven’t read what others are saying but the book should be written because you want to express your thoughts. It is compelling you to be written. Rest all is crap. Let people say what they wish, you just write.

  14. Bottom line is that you need to look past the critics and finish writing it for you. I know that sounds like easy advice especially coming from a person like me, who doubts her writing at every single turn, BUT, you are exceptional and a great writer. Writing is like art. Everyone has an opinion and not everyone is going to like it BUT, if you like it then it is all worth it. Please yourself. Keep writing.

  15. I love your writing, Shailaja. You are always so honest and express yourself so well. You’re funny and you’re down to earth and you connect so well with the reader. I understand your feelings as I get like that and fear of failure and criticism often holds me back, too. I would say to keep writing for yourself and when you’re ready to share it, go for it because your voice needs to be shared with the world. Of course some won’t like it and some will be indifferent but isn’t that always the way anyhow? I’ve sure accepted that about writing. Most people in my day to day life don’t know about my writing and don’t care either, even members of my immediate family. I write for myself first because I need to be creative, because it’s a part of who I am and needs expression. All the rest of it is a bonus.

    1. That’s exactly why I write, Cat! You’ve said what I wanted to say. It’s a part of me. A part of me that I want to share with the world in the hope that it will help someone somewhere out there. I am not too worried about the bouquets and brickbats to be honest. What I am concerned about is the lack of clear criticism.

      Thank you so much for the warmth and the love <3

  16. You write beautifully..
    I love to read what you write.
    If you write the book, I will love to read it.
    Whether to write or not is completely your choice.
    If you decide to write when do it is whenever you feel comfortable.
    The fears you have now might be gone tomorrow, who knows..
    All the best …

    1. Thank you so much, You have no idea how wonderful it feels to hear that! It is sincerely a pleasure to know that people will read what I choose to share with the world at large. Yes, the fear today may dissipate tomorrow. At least, that’s the hope.

  17. Shyler akka,

    The book is meant for all those lives it is going to touch in a significant way. When they reach out to you for speaking out and unravelling the mind’s labyrinthine corridors in that straight, honest and poignant way as only you can, believe me – it will see you through any criticism, well-meant or otherwise. And any criticism, which is not well-meant, is meant to be ignored.

  18. I read Sid’s comment and I felt, yes this is what it should be. Write for yourself and in the process someone will be helped. Just write when you get the time and you feel like penning your thoughts. If it is work in progress, it is good think cos it’s still work happening 🙂

    1. Agree there, Parul. I rarely feel writer’s block when I blog, because it is fleeting- this thing called blogging. One post today, another tomorrow. A book, however, is far more permanent. There is all this expectation that comes with it and I am dreading it at so many levels. Time to push it all away and write! Thanks 🙂

  19. If I worried about criticism or bad reviews or even those completely ignoring my work or any such thing, I would never write anything I think is worth writing. I have seen enough of nonsensical behaviour including petty rivalry, jealousy to serious ill-will among the so-called literary and elite, educated circles to let any of that stop me from writing what I want to write. Keep writing, and all the best!

    1. That’s so true, Beloo. I see it more often these days, thanks to the immediacy of social media.By nature I am a very private person and stay away from arguments, even in reality. So while I don’t mind fair criticism- of my ideas, thoughts and work- I do object to being bullied. Cyber bullying is quite demoralising, especially for those of us who have survived mental health concerns. That being the subject of my book, I am very keen that it not be belittled or ridiculed. Also, the fact that so much of my personal life will be out there for public consumption is another thing that holds me back. Sigh. Must shelve it all and write. Thank you, Beloo. I do appreciate the sincerity of your comments. Every single time.

      1. I can understand how difficult it can be to put one’s personal experience out there for public consumption. Wishing you lots of calm courage and equanimity through this process. Hugs.

  20. I solemnly swear to review it honestly. That’s all I’ll say. Except the PS part below 😛

    P.S. You’re writing it because you want to and also shed some light on the ‘topic(s)’, so that it may help someone else. Not for it to be a bestseller or for you to make money off it (which isn’t necessary bad either). Just write, Shailaja. As I say, people these days get offended and severe friendships for the silliest of things these days. We can’t please them all. At least, let’s please ourselves.

    1. As always, you know the right thing to say, Sid. Yes,I know I must write anyway, but you know that this behemoth called social media is always standing above me, glaring, grunting and fuming. Some days I just see the horrible reviews of a good book and I cringe. Then I see hyped up reviews of a terrible book and cringe further. Ah well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I shared my story on the blog and was overwhelmed by the support. Who’s to say that the book won’t do the same? 🙂

      1. There should be some rating for the review source too. I see many silly reviews. One guy had mentioned that ‘the book had ninety chapters!! can you imagine? 90’ and I think how does that matter at all to the content of the book. And good writing will always shine through.

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