novel underworld

Writing a story can suck you into, what I like to call Novel Underworld. Where characters are real, people are annoying, and coffee is oxygen. Have you been there? Heres a short list of dead giveaways, just in case you missed the “Welcome to Novel Underworld” sign.

You might be writing a novel if….


1. On your desk, you have a collection of old napkins (some used) with book/chapter ideas scrawled out from that one time, at lunch, when you thought up something brilliant and had to use the eyeliner in your purse to jot it out while finishing your salad. Okay, fine. Cheeseburger.

2. You’ve perfected the art of smiling and nodding like you’re paying attention to whoever is talking to you, but really you’re lost in your head arguing with your characters about who’s going to die next.

3. You have Wonderland eyes. You know what I’m talking about: Your eye muscles are so mad at you for staring at a computer screen for 20 hours that they’ve gone haywire. Your vision gets blurry around hour 15. You have to blink every two seconds at hour 17. And by hour 19, the words on your screen are floating and spinning around like they’ve just trotted out of Wonderland and want to play. Wonderland eyes. I’m not sure if this is a scientific term—but it should be.

4. You haven’t washed your hair for three days. Daily showers are a waste of precious scene-writing time.

5. Your desk is starting to look like something you’d see on Hoarders. Piles of papers. Empty coffee mugs, water bottles, and energy drinks. An old banana, from that time when you told yourself you were going to eat healthy…but then didn’t. Pens and pencils everywhere, rolling around like utensil orphans in the chaos of books and candy wrappers and hair ties and bras (because bras obstruct good writing) and your cell phone. Wait a minute… *looks around frantically* Where is my cell phone….? *starts shoving papers and Starbucks cups aside* I know it’s here somewhere. Someone call my phone! I can’t find—oh! There‘s my Chapstick. I’ve been looking for that….

6. Your hands are permanently frozen in that gnarled hunchback way that comes from hours of typing without taking breaks to stretch or pee.

7. You’ve screamed at your computer at least twice this week. And, both times, it made you feel better.

8. You talk to yourself in the shower….in the car…at the post office…. And if anyone hears you muttering about your characters and has the nerve to ask, “Are you talking to yourself?” You really want to point your finger in the air and snap, “Don’t interrupt!”

9. All car rides have become opportunities to smooth out your plot.

Kids: “Mommy, can we—“
Me: “Shh! Mommy’s thinking.”
Kids: “But we want to listen to Disney music.”
Me: “Disney music?! Are you kidding me? I can’t draw inspiration from Selena Gomez or Big Time Rush.” (turns on Florence + The Machine) “Now, this is music.”
Kids: “But we want Justin Bieber–“
Me:” “Shh! Mommy’s thinking.”


10. You have yellow post-it notes covering your walls with chapters listed so you can “keep track of your story”. That’s not crazy behavior. It’s not. It’s NOT.

11. Your family doesn’t remember what you look like. But whenever you do make an appearance, they cringe and say things like, “Are you okay? You look a little, uh…tired.” Tired is code for hell. You look like hell. But it’s okay, because your characters are doing awesome—and at least one of them is a brooding bad boy with a big heart that he hides from the world by acting all cold and selfish, but really he’s this devastating hero who looks deep into people’s eyes and finds convenient reasons to take his shirt off.

And…there you have it. Eleven tell-tale signs that you’re writing a novel. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find my cell phone. *dives back into desk mess*