How to Get Clear on What Your Book Is About

Writing scenes that won’t end up in your novel matter as much as the ones that will.

Itxy Lopez
5 min readFeb 14, 2020


Photo by Shopify Partners from Burst

On January first, I uploaded an article announcing that I knew what the book I was writing would be about. I had it all figured out… or so I thought.

15,500 words later, I’m here to tell you I was wrong.

I’m still writing the same book. My characters remain, and the storyline is basically the same, but it’s taking a different direction. One I didn’t envision.

You might be wondering why I didn’t create an outline to not waste time. Believe me, I tried, and it didn’t work for me. I had to write the journey to stumble upon an idea worth following.

“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

I don’t regret the time I spent writing those 15,000 words. There’s material I can use, details I’ve learned about my characters, and more. Even if I don’t use anything, my efforts didn’t go to waste.

I uncovered what I didn’t want to write to land upon something worthy. All of those words were necessary parts of the process.

If you’re still unclear as to what your novel is about, there’s hope. Take it from someone who took a month to arrive at this point. (Let’s hope this is the last time I write this goddamn article.)

Choose to write even when you don’t think you can

I attribute getting clear on my book to writing every day. When I didn’t know what words would spill out, I worked anyway. When it was nearly midnight, and I hadn’t gotten my word count in, I still managed.

“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.” — Jane Yolen

If you’ve been keeping up with this book-writing journey, you know that I’m dedicated to writing 200 words of my book per day.

Since the year started, I’ve managed to achieve that goal daily. It hasn’t been easy, especially when you don’t know where your…



Itxy Lopez

I’m a self-discovery writer: I write as I grow, make mistakes, and learn.