Wednesday, November 28, 2012

When you feel like giving up ...

I'm about three-quarters of the way through my current story but recently I've become more and more dissatisfied with it. There's something not working, but I can't decide what that 'something' is. On Sunday evening, feeling particularly dispirited, I put the following on my Facebook page:

Do you ever get to the point where you feel like deleting the whole of your 'work in progress' and forgetting you ever thought of this story in the first place? That's where I am right now!

The replies and comments I received were interesting, and I think they’re worth summarising here. If nothing else, they show that other writers experience the same feelings! There's also some very useful advice. I’ve alternated colours to show the comments from different people, and given them in the order they appeared, but have left out my own replies to the comments.

Yes. Every WIP at some point.
Keep going! Keep going!
Hold on there. You're too close to the baby to call it ugly. Go away for a few days and let the characters sink into your subconscious, let them talk to you a little. Come back with a fresh mind and a renewed body too. Funny how rest and lots of REM can salvage a WIP
Sometimes in revisions, I get so sick of these people I wish I'd never created them. But when their story is published, I always love them again! Absence makes the heart grow fonder so take a short holiday from them and see what a difference it makes.
Have you thought of flipping the characters on their ears, giving them an all-new tension that they didn't have before? Tension drives conflict, conflict drives passion, passion drives...oh, you know the drill.
Not just you. And some stories just have magic, heart, crunch you simply can't walk away from. Sometimes all you need to do is wait for the chops to write it or let go of the idea of perfection. The latter is usually what stands in my way. i.e. what I wanted the story to be is not what the story IS.
I’d put that sucker away for a year.
It sounds like you need a long walk and a break and let this story reconvene in your head.
As the saying goes, you can't revise a blank page. I like your idea of going back to the original version, whatever that is. It's undoubtedly the one that made you start writing in the first place. Step back and let the characters tell you their story.
Every time!
Don't do it!
Give it a couple of days and suddenly you'll know.
I have a story I've been writing for about 3 years, keeping getting lost in it. Maybe you need to do what I've done (more than once). Put it right away and begin a completely new one. Your mind will be much fresher when you finally return to this wip, you'll probably see what’s happening to hold you back straight away.
Leave it alone for a month. Then you will know what the problem is and be able to fix it!
Just been thru that exact process!
Certainly have. I think I'd follow the  advice to leave it alone for a month. I had one, and kept going. It took three times as long to write.
You're trying too hard! Step back, write a short story and see what happens... Step out of your comfort zone! Pen a scary thriller.
Don't destroy it. Put it on the back burner. Let it lie for a year or so, then go back and see if it is worth saving.
Have you thought about getting some feedback on it from someone?
Let your mind drift to other scenes, other characters . Let this one stew a bit longer. Some of mine have been around for years.
Yes, know that feeling only too well.
I'm feeling that way right now too. I'm working on a novella that's taking me longer to write than a full length book.
Hang in there. Breathe....
Oh yes. You stare at the screen blinking fast, then scratch something till it bleeds--anything rather than just walk away, which is the only thing that works.
* gasp * Oh No! Stop! Don't do it! You will find the way in this story. I have complete faith in you. :)
Keep going, girl
Don't do it. Set it aside and work on something else. I have one coming out soon that I've been messing with off and on since 2009. I finally figured out the issue about a month ago and fixed it. so, it could just need to simmer for YEARS! LOL!
Good luck. I messed with mine between stuff forever and it finally gelled. Yours will.
Yes! But don't do it. Just let it stew for a while and all will work out.
Keep plugging along.
Don't give up on your story. Maybe take a break, then start reading it from the beginning, and I'll bet you find that your story hasn't given up on you.
What’s interesting is that while some encourage me to keep going, others say to leave it – for anything from a few days to a few years!
I haven’t included the final few comments, when a three way conversation compared the whole writing process either to knitting with fog, or carving granite with a teaspoon, or wading through porridge – and sometimes you feel like you’re doing all three at the same time!
Anyway, as a result of all this, someone has offered to read the first few chapters and tell me what she thinks. I’ll wait for her verdict before I decide what to do!


  1. For me personally, when that happens, it usually means there is something wrong somewhere. Not sure if my comment was one of the Facebook ones or not, but after that person reads the first few chapters, I'd put it aside and work on something else for about a month. Then go back to it and see what you can do. In the meantime, if you get inspiration for it, take notes so you don't forget.

  2. Yes, my gut feeling is telling me something's wrong somewhere!
    However, my beta reader (a writer I really respect) sent me this message today, after reading the first five chapters:
    "Don't you dare dump this story. It's fantastic. I think it's wonderful and very, very polished and clean. I love it and can't wait to read more. The characters are well developed and even the minor ones are well done. This is really, really good. I'm thrilled you shared it with me. It's marvelous."
    As you can imagine, that has been a real morale booster and has given me back some confidence in the story.
    Am now waiting to see what she thinks of the next 5 chapters!

  3. Oh, I'd never say give it up! And I'm glad she likes it.

  4. I wouldn't give up on it either, Paula. Whatever the problem is, it will show itself soon enough. And it'll probably be something and nothing, yet will make all the difference x

  5. I love all of these comments. Really some different takes on things. Sometimes it really does help to walk away for a bit.

    I've been away from revisions on my WIP for a while. Mostly time constraints, but partially because I'm not sure what to really do with it. But lately the characters have been whispering to me again. I think I'm going to listen.

    I hope yours start to whisper to you, too, Paula. Give it time. But don't give up on it!

  6. Thanks, Suzie - I'm hoping for that flash of lightning that will tell me what's wrong - and then another flash to show me how to put it right!

  7. Debra - okay, so I'll forego the flash of lightning for a few whispers! So glad yours are whispering to you again :-)

  8. Thought you might like to see other comments that have been added on Facebook since last night. It's interesting that my FB question has attracted probably the biggest response i have ever had there!

    No. Stop. Don’t. Put it away for a while and start something else. When you have finished the new project, go back to this one with fresh eyes. And guess what, you will love it again. Also, what is driving you crazy will have a solution.

    Absolutely! My current release nearly bit the dust at least three times, I was so disheartened with it. Don’t give up.

    You'll get over that hump, Paula. I think leaving it for a while and working on something else is the best plan. Then you come back with a fresh perspective. Thanks for sharing about this. Glad to know it's not just me who feels like that about some of my stories.

    No! Have a cuppa and some biscuits, go for a walk, anything but do not stop!

    I'm at the same point, Paula. The only advice I could give to me (and to you) is write through it. We're editing before the damn thing is even written!