Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG & Knowing When to Throw in the Towel


Hello and Happy October! It's the first Wednesday of the month and that means it's time for another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you aren't part of the group and would like to join in, visit host Alex J. Cavanaugh and add your name to the list. Everyone is always welcome!

This month I'm pondering when it's time to throw in the towel on a story that just doesn't seem to be working. As I've mentioned here before, I've been working, or trying to work, on a follow-up to Polar Day for a long time now and whenever I think I'm making progress the story stalls and I go back to being frustrated. Part of me thinks I don't want to quit on it when I've already put so much time into it, but another, bigger part of me feels like it just may be time to say enough is enough. For whatever reason, this story is not coming together for me.

The writing has started to feel like a chore and I don't want that. I think that may be the best indication that I need to let this story go. I have some other ideas I've been putting on hold because I was so focused on finishing this, but maybe I need to bring those ideas to the forefront and find the joy in writing again. I admit I haven't felt that joy for quite a while now.

Have you ever decided to say goodbye to a WIP that just wasn't working? How did you know when to throw in the towel?


In other news, due to a mistake in the original campaign, M.Pax has created a new Thunderclap for the upcoming Realms Faire. I know lots of people supported the first one and if you wouldn't mind adding your support to this new and corrected campaign we would be so grateful! Here is the link:

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/32268-realms-faire-and-joust

Thank you again for your support!


48 comments:

  1. Sorry it's not working. Set it aside and focus on something else. Maybe the solution on how to make it better will come to you later.

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  2. Taking a break from the story might do you some good. You might find that after some time away from it, you'll find the solution.

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  3. I agree that taking a break may be a good idea. You can work on the projects you really want to and maybe by the time you come back to it things will seem clearer.

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  4. Sorry the Polar Day follow-up has been so frustrating for you! I can relate to that feeling. I've had to give up so many of my own projects, as a result! Sometimes, though, I can salvage one by making a (very major) change that allows me to see it in a new light. Hopefully working on something new will help make writing feel like less of a chore for you!

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  5. Ugh. I've put aside a number of stories and novels that just didn't seem to be working. I might go back to some of them though, the ones where I still feel that spark exists. It's tricky though because you have to make sure you're not giving up just because it got too hard - something I've done more than I care to admit. I believe it's a gut thing - if your gut is telling you this story is not ready, it's not working, etc, then listen to it.

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  6. Sometimes you need to completely leave a project and work on something different, read a different genre, watch a movie you wouldn't normally. Write a short story in a different genre or use a character from your book, in a different story. Somehow, you'll find your way back with a fresh outlook.

    Best of luck. X

    http://shahwharton.com

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  7. Whenever I hit a spot like that, I just move on to another story. Eventually I'll get back to it, but only after letting a lot of time pass. It will seem fresh and new again when you do.

    Sorry you hit one of those spots.

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  8. Oh no! I have one WIP that I've set aside and I think it may be permanent. Forcing yourself to write isn't the best situation. Maybe time away will help.

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  9. I was going to say exactly what Alex said. My novel wasn't working for awhile. Turned out the whole last part was just wrong. I had to completely re-write it. But it was worth it in the end. Let it go for now and when it feels right, come back to it. Perhaps you can ask yourself some open-ended questions about it that your subconscious can be working on as you let it rest.

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  10. That sucks it's not working for you. I've completely changed stories before, but I haven't really given up on one yet. Have you tried writing out of order? Maybe write a collection of scenes that take place in the story, and then work out the transitions between them later? Write what you want, not what you feel you have to?

    Either way you decide, I hope things work out for you.

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  11. Take a break, I'm sure it'll work itself out when you least expect it. Do something new and totally different. Find your fun!

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  12. Been there, Julie. But after putting it aside, then rethinking it, I finally brought the story in. Maybe you need to give it a bit of away-time.

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  13. I've tabled a few stories, but I've never given up on one completely. Of course, the more I write the bigger the pile of unpolished works will be come. That's a problem for another day.

    Anna from Elements of Writing

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  14. I think we sometimes work on stories before we're ready to work on them. It doesn't mean we won't go back to them one day, but for now, we need to work on something else. It sounds like you're not ready with the other one. Set it aside, work on something else, and then see if time will help you go back to the other.

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  15. Hi Julie - it's wise to let it go .. and do something completely different - especially if those ideas are with you ...

    I hit the Thunderclap button for the new site ... cheers Hilary

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  16. What a hard decision, Julie. When this happens, part of me says don't be a quitter. Another part says enough is enough; quit banging your head against the wall. Maybe it isn't time for this story. Set it aside, work on something you enjoy. Some day, you might go back to that story or not. The time you put into it wasn't for nothing.

    Best wishes,
    Diane
    IWSG #94

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  17. Maybe it doesn't have to be goodbye? Maybe it can just be letting that story sit on the back burner for a while. After time, a different perspective may come to you.

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  18. My suggestion is to set this story aside, take some time to see which story in your head speaks the strongest to you, and work on that one. You may find you have to do this more than once, but you'll soon find your next project. Sending positive thoughts :)

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  19. That happened to me with Killer Stilettos. Maybe one day I'll be able to finish it. But it isn't working and hasn't worked.

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  20. Don't think of it as "throwing in the towel." Just think of it as putting it on the back burner. Sometimes when I have things that aren't working, I eventually find a way to combine them with others or change the main ideas so that parts can be used in other novels. (I mean things like characters, relationships, plot twists, and settings.) It's kind of like an auto chop shop -- take the carburetor, the transmission, and the seats from different cars and build yourself a whole new car! Good luck! :)

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  21. I've never said a full goodbye. I tend to say goodbye for now (It's easier to let go that way). Some I've come back to and fixed up and others are still in the rest zone.

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  22. Thanks all for the advice and encouragement! I think I will say "goodbye for now" and see if working on something else that is completely different. Thanks again, as usual this group is the best.

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  23. I haven't but I would know if I needed to just stop and begin something new. Who knows, maybe in a few years the time will be perfect to resurrect it.

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  24. You know, stories that give you a hard time are often like that object you try to find. You search everywhere for it obsessively then one day, when you've stopped searching, it shows up, usually appearing in the oddest places lol!

    The same has worked with a few stories for me. I've been stalling on the last book for the Shadow Jumpers series for a while. I hope pushing it to happen would do the trick, but...no. Then, as I started working on something else, tidbits of story idea started popping up. Noting them will give me a fodder of stuff to work with when I turn to that stalled book.

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  25. This is a hard decision to make, and is never made lightly.

    Set it aside for a while. Once your subconscious is free to act on it, it will.

    Some time down the line, you might find the right answers.

    Sorry to leave a link, Blogger won't allow my wordpress comments:
    Daily (w)rite

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  26. It sucks when a story isn't working. I've had a few stories like that. Usually, I abandon them after a few weeks trying. But don't delete anything. Just stuff it into a special folder on your computer and wait. Sometimes, something sparks your imagination, and you think: yes, that's what my story needed all along. It might take a month or a year or 5 years, but it happens. Just recently, I pulled out a story from my 'abandoned' folder, rewrote it, and it's better than before. Waiting helps.

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  27. It's frustrating when this happens because it feels like defeat...but it's not. I have put things aside and dealt with other things that grabbed me more and eventually (sometime 2 years later) I found the spark to finish something I had initially lost interest in or became frustrated by. Trust your instincts!

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  28. I think it's good to know when something is wrong - it shows you're objective about it, which is what makes your output brilliant. Put it aside, think about, and something might spark the novel back into life - or another idea might take over.

    I've stalled with a novel because I know the character I want to write about, but she doesn't seem to have any story at all! I'm kind of writing around the edges of the plot, but at some point I'm probably going to have to give up on her :-(

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  29. We've said the same words this month~I put over 30k into a story and then stopped. I go back to it sometimes wondering if I can make something of it. Maybe some day.

    Possibly it would be a good decision to start on a new project, and then after a while something might click when you want to go back to this one.

    I also feel the same way about writing becoming a chore, especially during my editing stages. And I wonder why I do this....

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  30. Don't give up, just put it on the back-burner and go the projects that give you joy. Maybe a change is just what you need. You can always go back to the other project in a few months, or years. Good-luck!

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  31. Yeah, focusing on other ideas might be what you need to do right now. That doesn't mean you can't ever come back and write this story. You just might need distance. I've done that many times.

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  32. Sometimes letting go is the right decisions, especially if there's another project or two that promise some joy in the writing! :)
    Best wishes on your new project, Julie!!!

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  33. Sometimes it's good to put it aside for awhile, run your brain down different tracks, then go back to it after, to decide whether it's time to keep it or let it go. I've done that before. Sometimes when it's hard it's just because it needs more love and attention than we originally thought it would...

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  34. Time to take a break, so that you can come back to it with a refreshed eye. If it still doesn't work for you, let it go. But keep it safe; you never know when the solutions to make it work might come to you!

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  35. I can understand that. With my WIP, the one I've had beta readers look at recently, has had several things that's needed fixing. I moan and groan when I have to do it and say, "Maybe I should just give up on this story." But I don't because the other part of me says, "But I love this story and these characters too much." So I push through it. Sometimes I even set it aside until I find the solution to fix what I'm struggling with. So push through it and set it aside as needed. Don't give up on the follow-up to Polar Day!

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  36. Sometimes it's best to put a book on hiatus, if you're just not feeling the spark or haven't plotted it enough to have a general idea of what happens throughout. The time away can increase your inspiration and motivation. I also like to think we put some characters and stories into hibernation because it just wasn't the right time yet to write these books in the way they deserved. I have plans to resurrect my long-shelved 18th and 19th century characters, when my overflowing queue is finally simmering down. I never thought I'd ever work with them again, but I figure, if I never forget them for over 20 years, they were really meant to be after all.

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  37. If it's not fun anymore, I'd have to agree it's time to move on to something else. I wouldn't say let the book go completely, just shelve it for a while. I've found that if I'm stuck on something, the answer will pop into my head while I'm working on something completely unrelated. You never know when inspiration will strike and you'll suddenly know how to fix whatever was wrong with your other book. Good luck!

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  38. I agree with everyone that you should take a break from the story. Hopefully, ideas will start coming to you when you least expect
    It. Julie, you are such a talented writer who has accomplished so much. Try not to let this temporary setback bring you done. though
    I know it's easier said than done.

    Julie

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  39. Sorry you're so frustrated. It's so hard to figure out what to do about a story when it isn't flowing. Sending good mojo your way!

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  40. Why don't you put it aside for a while.
    Distance lends perspective.
    You'll return to the story with a fresh mindset and look at it differently.

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  41. Hi, Julie!

    How are you?! I have SO missed chatting with you. It's been AGES for sure. I had to laugh at your question. ME, who has held on for DEAR LIFE on both my novels, NEVER seeming to give up no matter how many rewrites I do.

    I am getting there though. We shall see. I know how you feel, too about writing becoming a chore. I want to write for the IWSG anthology, but I haven't a CLUE what to write about. I am almost TERRIFIED to actually write something new. All I've been doing for the past few years is edit my first two novels and write blurbs, tags, etc for other authors. Which of course, I LOVE to do and it keeps me writing, sort of, LOL.

    I'd put your piece aside for now, and write something new and fresh. It will CALL to you in the middle of the night if IT wants to be finished...

    Hope all is well! Let's catch up soon...

    Michael

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  42. It difficult to let go of a story. You've got to go with your instincts here. I had a big idea for a novel and then it felt like pushing a boulder up a hill. So I stopped. One day I might go back to it, but I have enough story ideas to keep me writing. Yet I always feel bad when I stop on a project wondering if I could have done something more or different.

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  43. I let go of stories I have little passion for. I might take them out a few years later and rewrite them, adding the oomph they needed.

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  44. Yeah, maybe it's time to let it go for now. Put away for just a bit and if your gut says it's time to pick it up again it'll still be there. If you're not in the mood to write it, it'll show throw. I hope something else speaks to you :)

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  45. Thank you all again for your comments and advice!! I so appreciate all of you. It's funny, I think the story had other ideas when I said I was giving up on it because this weekend I got inspired and worked more on it! It was like the story was telling me it didn't want to be put aside LOL. So we'll see what happens. Thank you all again!!

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  46. I agree with everyone who said you should just set it aside. Once, I was so ticked off about a novel that was...crappy....I actually threw it into the BBQ fire. I regret it big time. I think I could have gone back later and fixed it.

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  47. I'd say set it aside. You never know, you may be driven back to it eventually and find joy in it, but if you don't, that's okay, too. Hopefully a new project will bring that joy back.

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  48. I'm glad you picked the towel back up. With as quickly as the words flowed, you were obviously meant to write that story. LOVE that picture! You might try to track down the origin, and see if you can get permission to use it as your cover picture. Ya never know. The guy who did the artwork for our cover for "Old Broads Waxing Poetic" was fantastic about letting us use it... and for FREE!

    Those Realms Games sound like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I won't be able to participate. My brother is coming in from Texas that week. (He was planning to come the week before, but then I got a summons to jury duty. And so it goes...) Oh well. Y'all have fun!

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Thank you for your comments!