Saturday, 26 February 2011
When to Call It Quits.
It's a funny life, making up stories and writing them down. Some stories can seem like the hottest thing since sliced ...er, chillies? Then you get half way through writing it down and find all your enthusiasm for the project has evaporated. So how do you know whether to force yourself to stick with it, or abandon the idea and start something else?
It's a tough one. Only you know how you really feel about a project. You could just be suffering from Act 2 Doldrums and need to push on through. Any activity gets boring if you've done it for long enough. It's important to analyse why you're stalled.
Do you still feel excited about the initial premise? If not, it's a pretty strong indication you may be flogging a dead horse. The first draft is only the start of a long process of editing and submissions, and if your heart isn't in it maybe you would be better off finding something you do feel compelled to write.
But the problem with shelving it is you could be reinforcing your lack of confidence in your ability to finish a project. If this is your first attempt at a novel it probably doesn't matter, but if you have a string of unfinished manuscripts cluttering up your hard drive this could be yet another confirmation of your failure. In that case you might be better off gritting your teeth and forcing yourself to get through it just for the satisfaction of writing The End.
If you do still like the premise, then maybe you are coming at the story from the wrong angle. You could try changing the MC, the POV or setting. Maybe you've taken a wrong turning somewhere in the plot and your subconscious is rebelling? You might need to take some time to think it through before continuing.
Remember though: most successful authors had a few attempts before they finally managed to write a fully finished novel, so don't beat yourself up if you decide to abandon a project. Writing should be fun, not torture.