I Lost My Novel Outline

There aren’t a lot of catastrophes in the life of a writer. We aren’t secret agents or storm chasers. We don’t work with guns, bombs, or nuclear missile codes. We mustn’t let our weapons precede us around every corner or wait with bated breath each time the phone rings (usually).

It’s a pretty cushy job.

When tragedy does strike, it’s usually in the form of a rejection email or writer’s block. These things may feel painful, but in the great scheme of things, all we need to do to get through them is to pull ourselves back on our feet and keep going.

Then there are those of us who tend to lose and forget things.

Didn’t save your work on the day your computer decides to glitch and restart?

I’ve been there.

Threw away your notes in a mad frenzy to make your house habitable for other humans?

That’s my problem today.

It’s not that I threw away a couple of sentences jotted down on a sheet of paper that can easily be replaced. No, what I threw away (for I’m certain that the papers are actually gone the way of the recycling bin) was a thick sheath of papers on which I had plotted my entire next novel, Eager Observer.

You know, the novel I’m supposed to be writing right now.

To say that I’m displeased is an understatement. I’m downright angry at myself, and for good reason. Instead of writing more on the manuscript I have already started, today I get to rewrite all those notes and the detailed outline that I discarded.

My hope is that I will find more depth in the rewrite than I had in the original. THAT would be a silver lining.

Have you ever screwed up a writing project and had to start it all over from scratch? I’d love some tips – or at least commiseration!

4 responses to “I Lost My Novel Outline”

  1. Oh god, you poor thing!!! 😦 This rivals The Great Disaster of 2015, I commiserate with you so hard right now. You’ll get it, give yourself permission to mourn the loss, it will get better.


    • I know, right? It’s ridiculous! This is why we should always keep more than one copy of everything we write. Thankfully, I mourned last night and this morning, and managed to get another outline written. It’s rough and sparse, but it’ll do.


  2. *Sends commiserations and some good karmas*

    I haven’t lost much “real” work before, but did lost a lot of fanfic work when I had hard-drive issues a couple of years ago. It was soul-crushing, given how much work I’d put in until that point. I’m just lucky it wasn’t work that had money hinged on its completion, because after taking a break from the story for a while and going back to it now, I’m horrified that I wrote some of it—I’ve developed so much as a writer that I’m ripping apart my own story to find fault, and now I’m hesitant about even continuing it.


    • Thanks for the good vibes!

      Ugh, I know. It doesn’t matter if it’s notes, fanfic, or original work meant for publication… Work lost is time lost. Any loss of that magnitude is painful. I do think that sometimes it’s for the best, because it gives us the chance to honestly evaluate the work. Sometimes it brings out the best in us, and sometimes… well, we can just be glad we stopped when we did, and move on with that knowledge!


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