Time Wasting Or Finishing What You Start?

This post follows on from last week's discussion regarding changing genre. Are you wasting your time on a book that isn't working? Are you forcing yourself to crank out a story that isn't really what you want to be writing?

Maybe I'm a quitter, but I don't see the sense in forcing myself to write a book that isn't working. For me, that book was MagicalGirl!Story. I felt like I had to get it done because it started out so well. Unfortunately, the editing revealed a lot of problems, problems that I rapidly lost interest in fixing, especially when I had such an exciting new idea crying out for attention, an idea that, like Colony, would not be ignored.

This book is pulling me in! Aaaaaaargh!

Forcing myself to work on something I didn't like wasn't really getting me anywhere. I wasn't improving as a writer. I wasn't enjoying myself. As a writer without an agent or an audience, I don't actually owe anyone else anything. I owe myself to do the best work in the hopes of gaining an agent and an audience. When that happens, my self-serving attitude will have to change, but right now? Nope. The only person my writing has to satisfy is me. And that's why I stopped wasting time on the book that wasn't working, and moved onto the one that, thankfully, worked out really well...

...Well, I like to think it did. I'll have to wait and see what the beta readers think, won't I?

And who's to say I won't go back to MagicalGirl!Story one day with the power to fix it? Maybe I will. Right now, however, my energy is needed elsewhere.

How do you feel about quitting something you start without finishing it?

Comments

  1. Oooh, tough question. I really strive to "finish my shit" as much as possible, but there are some stories that just DON'T work. I've got one story that just didn't pull together n the first draft, so it's been sitting trunked for about a year and a half now -- I still rough out a new outline and ideas for redrafts occasionally, but it hasn't yet hit that clicking point where I'm excited to go back to it. But I still think I'll go back to it some day.

    I'm a big believer in novels needing time, and having a "right" time. Some stories take three years of occasional redrafts to get right. Some languish in outlines until two months later when I get the right idea for it. Some books long-ago buried might come back from the dead in the future.

    If a story really isn't working, I tend to put it aside with plans to come back to it -- but I never know when that time will be.

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    1. I definitely see your point about things having their "time". I think the book you're currently beta-reading for me was a book that finally had its time.

      I do like to go back over unfinished projects, but at the same time, when something doesn't work, I can't be the kind of person who forces myself through it for the sake of "completion" when something else, something that will work, is screaming for my attention.

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  2. I'm notorious for not finishing what I start. It kills me that I've never actually written a complete novel; I've certainly improved as a writer but I find the prospect of writing a novel out of hundreds and thousands of variations of 26 letters pretty daunting. That's why I'm always chopping and changing between ideas - like you I don't owe anyone anything, so I'm just trying to find that idea that both excites me and encourages me to get my butt into gear with some self-discipline. I'm desperate to write a full complete draft of Bloodroot and Bracken, but after working on it for my MA I feel like I need to work on another project before I go back into it. I'm hoping my SNI will help me, and hoping that the sheer amount of research I have to do doesn't end up putting me off writing the story!

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    1. One day you'll definitely find the idea that sticks. You're just putting in the practice right now :)

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  3. I try to finish all my first drafts if I can, because when I first started writing, I had a bad habit of never finishing anything! Since then, I've only abandoned one, which fell apart in the last quarter. But there are other projects I drafted last year which need serious work, and I put them aside until I can think of a way to fix them. Like Emma said in her comment, some stories take longer than others, but I'll revisit those projects when I'm motivated to work on them again!

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    1. I have one MS that I really intend to go back and fix in the future, but I had to leave it where it is because I knew I was stuck and couldn't move on. It's what prompted me to write a story just for me, which in turn freed up my imagination for new ideas. Sometimes you learn just as much from the unfinished WiPs as the ones you see through to querying.

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