The writing world is full of short-letter acronyms. Everybody likes codes, right?  I love codes, but must admit I am currently struggling with understanding all the shortform words used in forums and texting nowadays. LOL and IMHO. That’s about it.

WIP it.

The humble work in progress – although more and more writers I read as bloggers admit to having multiple WIP at the same time, (that would make it WsIP, or maybe MWIPs, wouldn’t it?) in various states of completion.

I could crack a joke about multiple WIPs being the domain of women authors in particular, given our much-featured “multi-tasking” talents, but that would not be worth the antagonism from the male gender, few of whom read me – but you never know.

Nowadays we are told that the secret to success as a writer in such a competitive and moving marketplace is to “write, then write another one. And then another”. Having more than one project on the go at once makes for an easier time of it, provided all that effort doesn’t filter out the muse too much.

I’ve read lately a couple of industry experts – those writers who are deemed successful as in having multiple books out and being sold – they say they don’t like the word “WIP” – one argued that WIP, standing for work in progress, signified to the mind that the work would always be in progress ie. never completed. He said we should start calling it “our novel” or whatever else is involved. To claim it.

Someone else said not to call them writing “projects” also. The same argument – projects never get completed, they’re always a project.

As an ex Project and Test Manager out I.T., I would argue against this last. Projects are exactly what we should be thinking of them as – projects have a budget in time and money, resources, and goals, milestones and deadlines. Projects also run in tangent with each other, at various states of delivery.

But they must be delivered.

Very rarely is a project put on a shelf. It’s either closed down completely by moving stakeholder objectives, or budget overspend (heads will roll) or it delivers.

Testers know this even better. There to instil quality into the project, they inadvertently run up against the “when is it good enough to go?” versus “we’re running out of money/time” debate. Same for writers, I believe. At what point do you go live?

Why these thoughts now? Well, a writing buddy of mine, Cas, has just admitted on her blog that the inspiration has left her on her current WIP – which she’s been in editing mode on for months now. No wonder.

Cas is looking for another WIP to re-inspire her writing, but also tossed around some names for the WIP she’s just put on hold. The first is featured below –


Cas says WOTS stands for Work on the Shelf. I’ve actually heard this term somewhere else before, or something similar. I can hardly comment, as those who have been reading the widget things on my sidebar will realise that I put a novel standing at 60,000 words onto hold myself a couple of months back, to move onto complete another WIP, my short story collection.

A question to Cas in her comments asked whether she intended going back to her own novel with time. My own answer towards my own WOTS is a big “For Sure!”. Writing my short fiction in the same world as my novel takes place in, has provided so much more motivation. But I honestly have been tempted to go and write something totally outside of the genre also – sometimes that seemed an easier option.

So, I think I understand so much what Cas is going through. My own novel dripped along for months of excuses where the writing mojo just left me. It was publically visible on this blog.

Losing a novel doesn’t happen within a few days, it happens over the course of several weeks or months. You might find a sporadic week where everything seems a bit easier, and the writing flows, but it becomes a struggle to maintain that momentum. I’ve been there, Cas. And sometimes the only answer is to find a new WIP to refind your writing voice. I happened on that one accidentally myself.


I wanted to end this post with something a little more personal. I had my own name for something a few years ago, when first entering the writing busy-ness or life. I wrote not one but a good three POD novels. POD 1, POD 2 and a partial POD 3. (This was before POD became an acronym for Print on demand, showing my writing age, er-hem).

Other people call them the drawer novels – the first novels that most well-known “successful overnight” authors have, collecting dust in their bottom drawers. Having read all the industry pundits before starting off with my first novel, I took to heart the fact that most people said their first novels were simply a learning process, and weren’t worthy of publication. File 13. Or at least Drawer 12, way down there in the dark, to be remembered with love, but never read by anybody.

Knowing this, I decided my first (second and third) novels were basically already written off as poor facsimiles for the fantastic great award-winning novels to come in the future. So, I called them POD novels, after the PODs that soul-less alien clones come out of in “Invasions of the Body Snatchers“, a movie or television drama that had obviously left something with me from my past. My novels weren’t going into drawers, they were literally being born out of pods in the closet, and would go back into those closets when finished with them.

They never even got proper titles, those first PODs. Poor things. Not an entirely good practice, given I still struggle now with coming up with a title for my current projects.

Now, I think of my writing as projects – I name them as I go by types – my “novel”, my “short fiction series”, my “other novel”. And I do have multiples on the go, but only a couple of them are in the writing stages. When I do get to editing, finding betas and critique partners, then I think that everything else will need to go on hold for a little bit again, while ploughing through that stage in the project’s programme.

Nowadays POD stands for print on demand, not such a bad idea for one publication route for my books, not bad at all. Combined with iPODs, naturally. So a big welcome back to my POD babies, then.

Image via Colby Jones.


One thought on “WOTS, WIPs and PODs

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