Essays, Misc

My Writer’s Brain Was Hijacked and What I Did About It

Ever feel like someone hijacked your brain and wrote crap into your manuscript when you weren’t looking? Well, that’s me at the moment.

Let me explain. I’ve been working on Wolf’s Bane, the sequel to The Purple Morrow for two years. It’s been through numerous rewrites, about 3-4 different rounds of beta-reads and hours upon hours of editing. Why so much work? At over 102K it’s the longest and most complex book I’ve ever written, and it’s also my first sequel. There are so many moving parts to the story that I wanted to make sure that everything fit as well as read great. So when I completed the last batch of corrections in June, I thought I had the thing in the bag. I dotted the last i and crossed the last t and then put it aside to look for an editor.

Well, a few months later, I found a proof-reader so I decided to prepare a chapter or two so he could do a sample edit, when I almost had a heart attack.

horrified woman face 1

Agape, I stared at the computer. Then I stared harder. “No, no, no,” I thought, “this is some cruel joke. Somebody must be messing with me.” But that wasn’t the case.

As I reread the prologue, I cringed. Physically, like in movies. Why hadn’t I seen all these mistakes before? Why had I left in all that exposition? The over-writing? I mean, who needs four bloody adjectives in a row?

I set to rewriting, immediately. I couldn’t stand it. There was no way I was going to let that mess stare me in the face without doing anything about it. I finished the rewrite and sent it and the first chapter off for the sample edit, feeling good about the changes. I was happy when the proof-reader gave positive feedback, which seemed to confirm that the rewrite was needed. But then I had to consider that other 100K words needed to be reread. And revised. Again.

I got to work. I’m about halfway through and I’m still shocked at what I feel I have to revise.

So why am I sharing this? Because I think it proves the point that our writing is always in a state of evolution. What was good enough of us one day just won’t be down the line. We are constantly learning and trying new things, so it’s only natural that we will look back on our older work and sometimes feel, yes, even embarrassed.


I admit I get frustrated about that. And worried. If I notice the difference compared to my older works then others might too. But then, think about it: the writers, film-makers and visual artists we revere didn’t come out of the gate at the top of their games, did they? No, they started at a certain point and improved as they matured and gained experience. I bet more than a few of them looked back with a sort of shock and dismay at their earlier projects as well.

So, I guess we can all give ourselves a break. Right?


This time around, I actually feel as though my manuscript is finally on the right track. I feel a little giddy with excitement as I sit down to figure out which sections to take out or how to rewrite them. Cutting out bad writing and replacing it with something infinitely better is so satisfying. And, now that I’m looking back on the story with a better understanding of the characters, I find it easier to express certain ideas, aspects of their personalities, and motivations that I couldn’t before. Over all, what started as an almost traumatic experience is actually turning out for the better. I like to think that deep down I knew the story wasn’t ready and that instinct urged me to take one last look at it. Thank goodness! If all goes well, I hope Bane with be published in the fall. 🙂

How about you? What are your thoughts on when your manuscript is ready for the final edit? Have you been horrified to look back on your old work and how did you cope?


22 thoughts on “My Writer’s Brain Was Hijacked and What I Did About It

  1. Dyane, I do so enjoy a self-deprecating rant. Especially one full of emotion and witty reflection. I hope I can be as honest about my scribblings. There, I’ve demeaned them.
    Anyway, it sounds like you fought through it, offered a very funny post and the end result won’t be the wolf bane of your existence. And I of course have to live with the guilt of shoddy punnery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! Ach, the more I write the more I seem to fall into these holes meant to teach me a lesson, lol
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting–I even enjoyed your pun. 🙂 Good luck with your writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Definitely been there. An Authonomite pointed out a mistake the other day and sure enough — a dozen people have read ThenWillow Branch. I’ve done multiple readings and a major rewrite and I never saw this big glaring error. I’m not so much embarrassed, though. It’s bound to happen. I’m just glad he caught it. It’s been fixed now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a writer. I won’t say ‘author’, yet, because I’m not yet published. What happened was that I was retired and had idle time, so I started with some premises, a couple of characters, and a year later ended up with three trilogies based on the same main character and supporting cast. At that speed, I knew there were going to be errors. And for the next two years I’ve been going back over the manuscripts and making changes. Everything from adding or deleting punctuation to rephrasing sentences to scan better, or to better explain what I was trying to get across. The basic structure works. But now, I realize there are areas I can cut, or move around, to make it work better.

    I’v never had your experience of feeling that I was taken over by something strange when I wrote something that didn’t fit. But not because I never wrote something that didn’t fit. Rather, because I never thought that I was good enough to even be a writer. So, I was fortunate in that respect. But I can sympathize with the amount of work that you’ve got ahead of you, since the shortest of the books was about 116,000 words. Hang in there. It gets better.


    1. Thanks for your comment 🙂 I’m thrilled that you experienced the joy of doing something you didn’t think you could. And three books! I hope you continue to enjoy writing as well as new challenges to over come. Sounds like you’re on your way 🙂


    2. Three trilogies — NINE books. Between 40 and 42 chapters per book, each chapter took about a day (yet was only 6 to 10 pages long) average. In actuality, in many cases I was writing 3 chapters a day. The reason the average was so low was that there were some days when all I did was research. Oh, and the days? Ten to sixteen hours a day. Being retired had it’s advantages.

      And yea, it was fun. It also kept my mind active, which is the downfall of retired persons. If your mind isn’t active and creative, then you tend to vegetate and no longer have a will to live.


    3. When I can finish getting them cleaned up, and can convince an agent to take them. Well, that’s the blunt answer. In reality, I don’t know, but I would hope that I can start sending out Queries around the first of the year.


  4. The main bane of my writing existence is the word ‘crabapples’. Somehow it always shows up in a book as ‘crapapples’. I know I have paid close attention and yet it still ends up that way so yes, something is definitely taking over and replacing just one letter for a giggle.


  5. Oh, yes, been there, done that…
    You are far from alone I suspect, Dyane. it’s hard enough when it happens and you have all the hard work of rewriting. What about looking back at what has been published and finding mistakes? Aaaargh!
    How did they slip through all the rewrites, the edits, the beta readers, the proofreaders, the edits…..


    1. THAT last part is what keeps me stuck and why it’s taken so long to get this MS ready. But my last editor said, “It might not be perfect but it is ready.” I hold on to that 🙂


  6. I love each stage of bringing my manuscript to the point when I can finally say: Now it is ready. Each single step, each review, each addition or delete is an act of developing yourself through the manuscript. It is like giving birth in a different way. Sometimes you would never go back to some stages but they were all necessary in order to arrive at a certain point! Keep it up! You are doing such a great work!!!


    1. I love that analogy! It’s so true. Writing challenges us personally and creatively which leads to our growth. 🙂
      Thanks for your comment!


  7. Happened to me just last week. I was rereading ch 31 of my novel and wondering, who the hell wrote this crap?
    I delated it and rewrote it from scratches.

    So, yeah, fine, I revised that chapter last time two years ago and the story and characters have developed a lot from then. I suppose (I hope) my technicque has developed too.
    When will my novel be ready? I’ve decided it will be next spring 😉


  8. Oh, Dyane, I SO feel you on this one! Seriously.

    Remember that horrible 2nd draft version of my next book I had you beta read for me because I was totally stuck? I recall, with horror, what I’d written and that I let people read it. Isn’t it amazing that something that comes out of our brain can be so repulsive to us later? It literally blows me away every time.

    Anyway, I feel you, friend. The FEELZ.


    1. Hi Katie! Thanks for your support–this has become quite the intervention lol I’m just glad that we CAN look back and see our mistakes and correct them!


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