When Is it Okay to Quit?

January 24, 2012

For the past 5 months every writing project I’ve worked on is either a rewrite or an edit. In 2011, of the 5 novels I finished, only one was a brand new project.

My current WIP is not only a rewrite (at this point a multiple rewrite), but it’s also part of a series. A series I planned 8 years ago. These people and their story (though that’s changed somewhat) have been taking up space in my brain for eight years. You’d think I’d want to finally get it out.

But… Everything has begun to feel a little stagnant, boring, redundant. I yearn to start something new and fresh and anything I haven’t done before.

The question becomes, is that okay? I spent many years as a writer never finishing anything, so leaving anything unfinished at this point makes me nervous, but at the same time when I sit down to write right now… I’m not excited. I don’t look forward to it. Rarely do I find myself daydreaming about my characters. I stare at a screen and wonder why I thought this whole writing thing was ever a good idea.

I’ve been feeling this way for a while now. Even before I started my current project. Maybe it’s symptomatic of something larger. Maybe it’s just the place I am in my life–I’ve got a lot going on. Maybe it really is the project and I need to move on.

I’m struggling with the “right” answer here, and am constantly reminded there are no right answers except maybe in math and trivia. This is neither, and no choice is set in stone. Still, this is my conundrum. Where I’m stuck.

When it comes to writing, what are the things that trip you up? That stop you in your tracks and make you wonder which step is next? And do you move on from it? I’d love to know.

Nicole

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5 Responses to “When Is it Okay to Quit?”

  1. raven Says:

    there’s no right or wrong answer here. Do as you KNOW deep down you should. I got 7/8 of a 55+k novel finished and It’s still there hanging. It’s ok for about #34, but the last bit is very wrong… and there it stays until my mind tells me now is the time to sort it.
    Go with your gut feeling and enjoy. If there’s no enjoyment, then It’s the wrong thing to do. Or so I think…
    So much can trip me up, too long a break too much attention to one thing. Sulking over an edit because I love it and my Ed doesn’t!
    I tell myself, build a bridge. get over it. And get on with it.
    Whichever way works. Sometimes it’s a step back. Others its doing something else. Deep down, trust your instinct! You know you best!


  2. Those are some good questions. I’d like to think every writer goes through periods like this. I know I do. In my ignorance-is-bliss period, I wrote four manuscripts in something ridiculous like six months (which is ridiculous for me). I did it all on the wings of enthusiasm, but when it came to really analyzing those stories for writing merit and salability, the bottom fell out of my bliss-filled boat. Not one of those stories was ready “as is.” They all needed huge revisions, but I didn’t know how, and that scared me enough to walk away from three of those manuscripts. The fourth one I’m still working on. Honestly, I think I’ve worked months without feeling excitement for the darn thing until recently. The excitement comes and goes, that’s for sure. And I’ve thought about giving up and moving on lots of times, but it helps me to remember I’m still learning. Even if this manuscript never gets published, I’m learning from doing. In life and in writing, I tell myself if it’s hard, there’s a reason for the struggle—more than likely something’s just not right yet. When it comes to writing, either my skill or the story still needs work. So I keep working and hoping that someday it will get easier. Who knows? Maybe this is my process and I just have to learn to live with it. If that’s the case, I feel better reading about successful authors with processes they find cumbersome. (Check out this interview with Susan Elizabeth Phillips, who takes two years to write one book! http://www.savvyauthors.com/vb/content.php?1822-Savvy-Authors-Interview-with-Susan-Elizabeth-Phillips&commentid=172173)

    Hope you find some peace with your process/writing soon.

    E

  3. raven Says:

    I had a sulk fest a couple of weeks ago. Well more oh this is a load of rubbish HELP fest. Both my great friend and fellow writer Doris O’Connor and my Ed Laura Godsoe, reminded me how good it was, how much I liked and and how much better it was going to be. I walked away from the edits for a week. Came back with a fresh eye, sorted the edits, and do you know what? it is good and it is better!

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