Every writer’s experienced this at some point: you’re in the middle of a manuscript, let’s say about the halfway point, and your enthusiasm for the project begins to slip. You start questioning every little bit of plot and character development. You run your hands through your hair asking, “Why would anyone ever want to read this? This is the worst book in the history of words!” And then a dark slips through the cracks of your flagging self-confidence: what if you just gave up and worked on something else?
Tons of people will tell you that success in the field of writing comes from hard work and perseverance. You can’t write a novel unless you sit your butt in a chair (or stand if you feel like it) and write. That’s great advice, but where do you draw the line between just hitting a speedbump and legitimately needing to write something else. When do you abandon a manuscript?
Right now I’m in the middle of writing a sci-fi book. I’m at about 50,000 words give or take, and my goal’s about 80,000. So I’m definitely over halfway and some days getting words on the page is a slog–even with my incredibly detailed 40,000 word outline. (Yes, I’m a huge plotter) I can honestly say I’ve thought about giving this one up. But I haven’t yet. I tried a little bit of that perseverin’ thang and made some progress. That was enough for me to give up the notions of quitting. However quitting (maybe just temporarily) could be acceptable if you’ve really tried. You forced yourself to make progress, and it still isn’t coming any easier. That might be a sign it’s time to take a break.
I know that’s not a great answer but that’s the only one you’re getting out of me! Time for other things. I got another short story accepted! My story “Strike Breakers” is going to appear in the 20,001: A Steampunk Odyssey anthology by Kindling Press. This is my 3rd short story acceptance for 2011 and my 5th overall. I try not to get jealous when I see other writers with dozens of short story credits to their name, but short stories really aren’t what I focus on. Still it feels good, really good, when you get a win like this.
Time for some word count updates
Project Name: The Price of Loyalty
Word Count: 51,791