When You Want to Give Up

Mar 24, 2011

When we start a story, it's because we love it-- the idea, the characters, the setting, the adventure of discovering all those things. For me, that's why I write. Because I love the discovery and the creation of a new story.


So what happens when you're not sure you love it any more? When you want to give up and just bury it/burn it/cry over it and tuck it lovingly in a drawer?

I mean, of course we get discouraged. We have moments when we have no idea how to fix a plot hole, or we've worked on it forever and just need a break. But what about when you really do want to just give up on this story and move on?

The first thing to do: wait.

Wait until morning, or until the stress and joy of your sister's wedding is over, or until you're not sick. In other words, wait until you can get a little perspective.

Then look at the story again. Look at what, in particular, has you frustrated and discouraged. Are you sure you want to be done?

I started asking myself that question this week. Was this story what I wanted it to be? I'm getting toward the end-- close to sending it out into the querying world. Did I want this story out there as a representation of me? Well, the short answer is that the story WASN'T where I wanted it to be. So the question changed: was I willing to put in the work to make it what I wanted?

And I decided yes, I was. I love this story. I know what I want it to be, and it's really not very far off. Sometimes, you do have to decide to let a story go. And that's okay--I've done it before. But this story is worth the fight for me.

So, my friends, have you ever wanted to let a story go? How did you decide to do it-- or not to do it?

20 comments:

Kelly M. Olsen said...

That is one of my writing weaknesses...I have a plethora of unfinished stories that started out as brilliant ideas. I think I get a new, fresh idea and the love affair I've had with the old is sacrificed for the excitement of the new story. Waiting does help though.

Kittie Howard said...

Enjoyed your post. A couple of times I've let go of one of my stories because it made sense to me but didn't translate. But I've never let go of anything I truly loved. People can see the love when the dust around it is cleaned up (I think.)

Akoss said...

I've been guilty of that so many times.
the result? I'm on revision round 6 of my darling manuscript. When I get like how you described in the post, I work on something different for a while before going back to it.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm just using "my story is not ready yet" to avoid jumping back into the query land.

Angie said...

That happens to me at some point with every single thing I write. No kidding. So I totally expect it and don't freak out. I daydream about the characters, ponder new ways to take the plot. It usually doesn't take too long to find the spark that was missing. Good luck with yours!

Madeline Bartos said...

I'm currently not so in love with a story. I want to be, but I just can't find the love. It'll be a matter of finding the one thing that had me interested from the beginning. But this is good advice - wait! I'm waiting and starting another story. When I'm ready to come back and sort out my feelings for it, I will.

Bekah said...

Def yes; I've let stories go. I had to decide if I could actually sell it or if I had gotten feedback on it

Janet Johnson said...

I have let stories go, but for me, they're always in the back of my mind. And sometimes I go back to them and fix them when I'm to a point that I can.

Great post! Best of luck with your story!

Reece said...

I've never given up a story completely, at least not once I've started putting it all together (i.e. get past the idea/scene-sketching phase). I have set something aside for a month or two, just to get a break from it. Like you said, stepping back and getting some perspective is really all you have to do.

Emy Shin said...

I'm terrible at this -- I always let the stories go too early, and end up regretting it later and wishing I had stuck to them.

P.S. I'm very, very sorry it's taking me forever to get your critiques back. I should have it done by tomorrow at most. I know that you're almost done with DEVOLUTIONARIES -- but just wonder if you'd still like to receive the critiques? I'm not sure how helpful it'd be, now. I'm so sorry for this! I didn't know how busy the last month would be when I first offered to beta.

Faith E. Hough said...

I'm sure everyone struggles with this...and you're absolutely right: perspective is key. The hardest thing for me was actually making the decision that a manuscript wasn't worth suffering over any more at the time--it was my beloved first manuscript, and as many times as I'd told myself it just wouldn't work, it was a lot harder to actually awaken to the fact that I wasn't just complaining! But I'm so glad that I moved on to other projects with the knowledge that first ms gave me.

mshatch said...

I used to be exactly like Kelly: I had a lot of unfinished stories and nothing complete. I still have a lot of unfinished tales, but now I have 4 completed novels plus book 1 of a trilogy. Getting better.

Kari Marie said...

Taking a break and getting perspective is important! I try not to make decisions like dumping a story in the heat of the moment.

Abby Minard said...

Taking a break is definitely a good idea. There have been times I've wanted to quit because it all just seemed so overwhelming. So I took a break and just let myself think about it, or not. But I always come back- I'm still in love with my story, and want to make it the best it can be. It also helps that I have 4 amazing crit partners and they help me through my slumps, the same way I help them through theirs.

Jolene Perry said...

I have never officially let a story go. I have shelved several projects with the belief that they will one day be resurrected. At about 20-25,000 words, in everything I write. I think it's crap. Every time. I'm getting used to it.

Also, since my stories are all about characters, I love my people and it keeps (or gets) me back on track.

Julie Musil said...

I've set book #1 aside for now. I think it needs some major revisions before it would really sell. Now, book #3 is the one I'm in love with. Every time I read it I fall in love all over again. Now, if only an agent or editor would feel the same way :D

Stacy Henrie said...

I think it's important to write the story that you love - not that there won't be moments of wanting to chuck it across the room - but if you're working on the story you know you're supposed to write right now, then you can push through the discouragement and finish. Great post!

Ciara said...

Oh yes, I've been through this. I'm so glad you stuck with it.
I'm a follower now. :)

David Powers King said...

I haven't been able to let any of my stories go. Put them on a shelf for later, sure, but never have I thought up a story that wasn't worth telling. Excellent point about waiting and gaining perspective. All things take on a whole new light, over time.

myimaginaryblog said...

Interesting--this works for sewing,too. I've had plenty of "wadders," sometimes completely finished things that just didn't turn out as hoped, but I have also found that after sticking something in the back of the closet for a couple of weeks, when I get it back out I'm much better able to decide if it's a success without being focused in on mistakes.

Actually, I have a wadder in my closet right now that I haven't wanted to get rid of yet since there was a lot of good work in it, and I just got an idea for how to possibly rehabilitate it.

-Zina

Melanie said...

I haven't gotten to the point of want to say goodbye to a story, but i have gotten stuck and more times than not, i realize that it's because the story took a turn that just isn't working out for me. I find that I'm most unhappy when i keep trying to force the scene to work as is instead of just admitting to myself that I need to turn this story in a different direction. Then I'm usually good to go. This was actually happening to me over the past 5 days. I took a break from the MS for a few days, gave myself time to think and finally realized that i have to make a change and the words are starting to flow once again. Great post!

 
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