I've been working on my plot for almost a year now and every time I open my Excel sheet (yes,I know its odd to plot a novel in an Excel sheet but I find it's kind of a clean and clutter free workspace), I found myself losing interest in it. The worst part is that it's a suspense novel.

About 7 months ago this disinterest rose to such a level that I was forced to quit it. To be very frank, I was bored. Super-bored! So I closed it and Googled. The search results told me a similar thing: close it and stop thinking about it and open it when you've forgotten about the details so that you can put a fresh eye on it the next time you see it.

But it's not working. Not in my case at least! I've spent much time and effort in developing it. Please suggest an alternative way (if any) to not to lose my interest in it.

6 Answers 6


It's possible that all may be lost; on the other hand, maybe not. Distinguish between losing interest in the project and merely losing interest in its current state. The latter is somewhat more salvageable.

  • Do you remember what, in your initial writing, you found exciting about the book? That's the key, because if there's anything to go back and save, it's got to have that spark of enthusiasm. Usually, once you work with any enthusiasm on a piece, you'll have several such sparks - some that kicked the story off to begin with, and others that popped up along the way, things you were pleased with or that surprised you as you wrote them.
  • Why do those elements no longer excite you? Sometimes your enthusiasm wanes as a once-exciting idea grows familiar, even if only to you. You might try to recall how it originally seemed new and interesting, but if this doesn't give you the boost you need, you may be burned out on the idea. On the other hand, if you can put your finger on particular problems - "I can't pull off these intense dialogues well," "I chose a stupid location and now I don't like it," etc. etc., then those are specific problems that can be overcome. You might change those elements for something more to your liking, and that would get you past the hump and back into writing something you're interested with.
  • What could you change to make the story exciting again? Sometimes you can make a significant twist that breathes life back into your story. Orson Scott Card describes several cases where a plot or a setting lay dormant for years until he ran against a character or idea that woke them up again - like "Speaker for the Dead," which suddenly worked for him once he inserted Ender as its protagonist. You could try to do this actively. Does your story sound more enticing if you shift it into space? Into an underwater prison? If you tell it from the bad guys' point of view? You've got a strong but uninteresting backbone. Often, if you put down your author-spectacles and put on your reader/reviewer-glasses, you can say, "Well, this story would be pretty boring, but what'd make it cool is if he'd done..." and you're off again. I do this all the time for books I read and TV shows I watch - and when I need to, I can do it for stuff I write, too.

All that said, it's also quite possible you're burned out on that particular story, and mining it for your lost effort might be unproductive. You're the only one who can really tell whether you've still got any interest in your original work. I think a good guideline is this: do you have anything specific from the original piece you want to save? Or do you just feel bad about the general expenditure of effort and time that won't bear fruit?

If it's the first, then you know what you're looking for, and that's something you can probably save. If it's the later, than it's painful, but you probably shouldn't bother. Think of it this way - you've got a thousand other plots that are equally available to you, from books and movies and TV shows you've already seen. You might as well cannabalize one of those as your own. Why force yourself to write to a plot you're not interested in? Chalk the effort up as good experience, and start on your next project. If you ever regret that choice - if you ever do see something in your initial work that you want to use - then hey, you can always dust the file off and go right back to it.

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    I really wish I could accept all the answers. Thanks everyone! You guys proved once again that i can always come back here if my cancer mood shifts into dilemma mode! :) Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 22:43

I say set it aside and forget about it. I wouldn't recommend throwing it out, but definitely set it aside. Move on to something else and let yourself get focused on something new. Somewhere down the road you may decide that you've found the missing piece and decide to go back to it. Even if you don't, you might find some elements that you can reuse later in a new project.

Sometimes we can over-analyze our work and get to the point that we start experiencing paralysis by analysis. If you spend too much time plotting and never start writing, then you'll find yourself in this exact scenario. You might try to just sit down and start writing without plotting anything out. This could be a way of clearing your mind and getting you refocused.

Something else you might consider is that when you sit down to write, do it with a pen instead of a computer. This will force you to use the creative side of your brain instead of the analytical side. I think you need to adjust your mindset and get back into the creative mode.

BTW - I use Excel to keep track of my characters and my timeline, so I don't think that's odd at all! :)

  • +1 for pointing out that you can always recycle parts into other projects. Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 12:56

If your plot is no longer interesting to you, let it go. It's the most extreme version of Kill Your Darlings.

You haven't wasted the time you've spent. Consider it an exercise in plotting and development. Think of how much faster and more organized you'll be with the next one.

Mourn the story, kiss it goodbye, bury it. Move on. You hereby have permission.

  • +1 for "You haven't wasted the time you've spent." That's the mantra of any budding writer.
    – StrixVaria
    Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 18:32

Perhaps you're not bored with your plot; you're bored with plotting.

Consider writing instead of plotting. Maybe start at the beginning and write a scene. Or pick any scene and write it. I find that writing a scene always surprises me.

If that doesn't work, set it aside, and pick it up later if your interest returns.

A writer friend of mine who has written dozens of well-regarded non-fiction books (and a dozen or more novels) offers this advice: Keep several writing projects going at once. If you become bored with one, switch to another. Now, this works only if you actually finish things from time to time.

As for plotting with a spreadsheet: Dan Wells (a relatively new writer who participates in the Writing Excuses podcast) does that, too.

  • +1 for maybe just being tired of plotting. A YEAR?!? That's a crazy amount of time for doing the work of outlining without getting to the fun stuff of writing!
    – Kate S.
    Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 18:32

If you've lost interest there is a good chance that an agent/audience will too. Put it away and try to write something else. We all have works in "non-progress." Better to find out now; it will decrease the number of rejection letters.

Resurrection of the dead is in the realm of a religious issue.


Tell us about your characters. Have you spent equal time developing them? You could have the most labyrinthine, mind-bending plot of the year. It won't matter. Without characters we're curious about, and can relate to, we'll be napping by page thirty.

Try switching out the cast. What will new personalities do, given the same challenges? Or if you are interested in the current cast, start writing from their perspective, and dream into their choices more... no predetermined outcome... throw out the plot and see what they do.

Consider that your plot, while tight, may actually BE the most boring part of your work. That's not all bad. The skeleton is the most boring part of the body. But you need one. Put a sexy skin on those bones. Put some devil-may-care rogue in there. A loving but seriously deranged heroine. A homeless drunkard/fallen god. Juxtapose a non sequitur. Perhaps the acidification of the oceans is causing a worldwide famine, and everyone is on edge from hunger or guilt for not being hungry (yet).

Add playfulness.

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