Panic Writing

I panic. Part of me freezes, while another part flies off in a zillion different pieces banging into each other as they shatter-scatter about inside my body – inside my head.

I’m writing.  

It’s longer than a picture book.

It’s taking lots of words….

And I have this little panic button that is triggered by words – large counts of words.

And so my second verse novel has ‘sat’ for the past 8 months with naught but a token gesture word added to the mix.

I’ve written enough to know that it has potential to ‘BE’ something special – but not enough to be something, yet. Enough to know it’s a story that needs to be told – but not enough to feel like *I* can finish telling it.


My heart aches for Toby (my MC) and I can’t leave him in this place. But I don’t yet have the words – or the plan – to bring him out of this predicament. So I panic. What if I can’t finish this?

Last week I was able to refocus on the story. I completed a Scene Map, first shared by my friend/critique buddy, Karen Collum – and this helped me to step back from my manuscript and put things into perspective. Find gaps – and gaping holes.

In the past week, I’ve written 950 words – and I wasn’t even trying. My verse novel now sits at 4,465 words. (Fourthousandfourhundredandsixty-fivewords? That’s a lot of words… for me…)

*Breathes deep*

This week I’m trying to ignore big numbers, and focus on specific gaps in my manuscript. I’m hoping I’m on a roll, and more of the story is going to come flowing out from my fingertips. I’m hoping I can help Toby find a happier place.


Not Good Enough!

Sometimes it feels
like my body doesn’t belong
to me. Like I tell it to do stuff
and it doesn’t. My feet stumble along
and trip over each other. My hands fumble
and drop and it’s almost like I’m wrapped in
invisible bubble wrap; stumbly fumbly bumbly –
michelin man bumping and blundering along.

Sleep Walking

Can’t get to sleep –
Mum and Lola giggling
like girls
and my mind running
laps around sleep
I don’t know whether to be
excited –
because I can do this
or nervous
because maybe I

What if…?


© Kathryn Apel 2009-2011


That almost sounds like me and my predicament with words. It isn’t. That’s Toby – my MC. And I really need to get back to writing his story…

I’d love to know if you can relate to this. Are you a panic writer? Or do you plot and plan and write cucumber cool?



  1. I feel the panic!!! 🙂 Great post. I have figured out that as easily as I can throw down a fun little paragraph or bit of dialogue *nothing gets done* if I don’t outline/plan/plot/research the living carp out of my story. Even a rough outline is not enough for me, apparently. I tend to run out of steam and wander aimlessly (and ultimately never finish) once my outline has been exhausted.


    • Thanks for visiting, C.E – and linking to my post.

      While I have an ultimate destination, I often don’t know how I’m going to get there, or the story it will tell on the way. There are moments of panic – but it’s an incredible ‘wow’ moment when it all falls into place. Almost like a miracle.

      I hope you find your steam. 😛


  2. Kat, alas I don’t plot- but I think, read, research, discover the atmosphere, the theme before I begin to write. It’s whiel I’m writing, I discover other plot twists, needs, behaviours of my main characters that I didn’t know before. If I’m excited and compelled to write and finish then I know it’s a book with heart.

    All the best with your verse novel- two! Well done.


    • That sounds very familiar, Lorraine. Lots of thinking before – but then a lot more throughout, too, as the story takes a direction that I hadn’t previously considered. I think it’s the ‘heart’ that scares me a little too. I hadn’t realised that when I wrote the post – but now that you mention it (and I ponder it) writing the heart stories slows my writing every time. Interesting…


  3. Kat your words ring so many bells. But not the loud nerve shattering panicky type ones. I plan in my head and then stare at a page put aside purposefully for plotting for long long periods of time. Then I write. If the story is not clear in my head if seems unable to flow out onto the page. That said my chapter book has been in suspended limbo now mid way through for over 12 months. My panic is that I’m almost too scared to resume it even though I want to find out how it ends?! Do you ever get like that? Frozen with the fear of actually completing something?


  4. Awww, you mentioned me! Thank you, lovely one 🙂 I’m so glad the words are flowing for you. Step away from the button – you’ll be just fine! (But I suspect you have stolen my writing mo-jo and I’d like it back, please. Or at least a little bit of it 😛 I have a novel to write, you know! LOL)

    Love the sneak peeks you posted. Thanks for sharing and KEEP ON WRITING!!! You are awesome 🙂


  5. I’m with Karen, here, Kat…step away from the button.

    You know the trouble with ‘we’ writers is that we need to focus on words and not numbers:)

    Love the verses you shared. Can’t wait to read more.




  6. Hi Kat

    Love your verses. Even in such short snapshots Toby’s character is coming through strongly as is his voice.

    Do stop counting. Your passion for Toby will keep you writing. One thing I try sometimes is to lie in bed and visualise what happens next like in a movie. Often the story just starts to naturally flow on. Otherwise it jumps into my head next morning under the shower. (Wish someone would invent waterproof pens and noteboards. 🙂 )

    Best, Chris


    • Chris, you’re right. I am often inspired under the shower – and chopping vegetables… I think it’s that ‘zoning out’ activity that makes space for inspiration to flow. Thanks for your affirmation. 😀


  7. I’m loving the little insight into Toby, Kat! I want MORE!!!!!
    Sometimes, I suspect I’m a bit of a Panic Button personality wrapped up in Cool! Not good, as Ms Panic is stronger than Mrs Cool and something’s gotta give. 🙂


    • Excellent, Sheryl. So glad to hear it. (That you want more, that is!) As to MrsCool/MsPanic – that could be a quite a combination when it ‘gives’. Maybe better play it cool and only panic in places. 😉


  8. Pingback: Introducing a Character… Toby | Kathryn Apel

Comments from readers are purrrrfect!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s