Never, Ever, Ever Give Up

I had a conversation on Twitter last night with a writing buddy of mine. She tweets as @BeautifulSadist and she said she’s having trouble with her novel and wants to write something else.

My advice to her was this: don’t give up! I expressed such a sentiment in two tweets (I feel pretentious embedding my own tweets, but here goes):

I can’t tell you how many partially completed novels are littering my hard drive. It’s embarrassing. (Exact number: five, if you don’t include the one I’m working on now.) What happens is this: I’ll get a really good idea, write maybe 30,000 words of it, then lose motivation and abandon it. And this happens time and time again. It’s a problem I’ve had for years and it drives me crazy.

I tried in vain to find a solution. Outlining didn’t work. Yes, I know some people swear by outlines, but every time I have tried to write fiction based off an outline, the writing turns out very dead-sounding. Writing off an outline completely destroys my style.

Finally, I just decided to finish the novel I’m working on before going on to the next. Informally, I call it my mission to “finish stuff.” I’m currently working on a rewrite and edit of last year’s NaNoWriMo novel. I’m not sure what’s next on the list to finish (either the epistolary novel I’ve been thinking of for years or the science fiction idea I’ve written a few chapters for). But I do know this: no matter how much some other ideas are calling to me, I’m not going to even think about working on them until I finish my current project. (My current project doesn’t have a title yet, by the way, which is why I only refer to it as the “current project” right now!)

Bottom line: even if you hate your idea, don’t give up. I sort of hate the current project right now. I also hated it when I wrote the first draft of it last year. Then I went back after about seven months and saw that some of what I’d written wasn’t half bad.


6 thoughts on “Never, Ever, Ever Give Up

  1. I enjoyed this post and can relate!! I have written a novel which I abandoned and now I am working on another. My goal is to finish both. You should read The War of Art. Its a great book and speak directly about resistance and procrastination. Check it out! Good Luck to you!


  2. This is so true. Every project, no matter how wonderful, is going to have those parts that are difficult. You will hate it some of the time. But if you give up on it, you’ll never see what it can become. I second the War of Art recommendation.

    I just finished my book, and it feels amazing. It’s a first time for me too, after quite a few false starts. Last November, I wrote a poorly planned first draft of it and it was terrible. I really wanted to throw in the towel. But I also really wanted to tell this story and for the first time in my life, I just couldn’t let it go. So I read Larry Brook’s Story Structure Architect (I swear I pimp this book everywhere, lol) and reworked the whole thing from scratch following his plan. I found it a great compromise between complete pantsing and outlining. There are mileposts to work toward, but you have a lot of freedom as to how you get there. Finally, I had a plot that made sense.

    I wasn’t out of the woods yet- I ended up cutting 70k words in storyline and pov characters that didn’t work after writing a second draft..But now it woks and I feel happy with the result. Of course, I still have a ton of work to do on it before it’s completely polished, but I feel like that’s a much smaller thing to get through. I’m setting a deadline for myself on that so I don’t obsess over it endlessly 🙂

    I think the writing challenge group has been a lot of help with this. There are a lot of people in it who are completing novels and stories on a regular basis, and you start to feel kind of silly if you can’t do the same. Good peer pressure, i guess.

    It seems you’ve made a huge amount of progress just this month.Congratulations! 🙂


    1. Thanks!!! And CONGRATULATIONS on finishing! I’m sure you have a ton of editing to do (don’t we all) but an actual finished draft is a beautiful thing. And I agree about the writing challenge group. It is an awesome bunch of people and I’m so happy I discovered it! 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A.J. Cronin, one of the English-speaking world’s great writers, threw away his first draft of “Hatter’s Castle”. The farmer who found it on his rubbish heap reproached him for giving up so easily, and so shamed him that he took it up again and finished it. It was accepted by the first publisher to whom it was offered, and became an immediate best-seller in England. Cronin also wrote “The Stars Look Down” and “The Keys to the Kingdom”, and few could match his talent for imagery and memorable characters.

    That doesn’t mean every writer who sticks it out to the bitter end will match that success. But it’s worth it to give it a fair shot.


Comments are closed.