September 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: When to Break Up with Your Book

Goodbye, tacos. Tuesdays will now be Top Ten days.

Today's Top Ten theme is inspired by an old Tess Hilmo blog post on quitting and my own discovery that the manuscript I've been agonizing over for two years has already been written and published by someone else. Reading her blog post and making the discovery happened within about five minutes of each other. It's a sign. And I've come up with a few more.


1. You are not under contract. (If you are, the rest of this list will read more like a lame joke on you. Sorry!)

2. The main reason you want to finish the book has nothing to do with the book itself, like your wanting to see what happens to your characters in the end. Instead you feel driven to prove something about the book's author--like you CAN finish this book and it wasn't a jacked-up idea to begin with.

3. Someone else already wrote it.

4. AND instead of feeling inspired by how well the same idea has been treated by someone else, and encouraged by how your book is different, you feel relieved that maybe you don't have to write that book after all.

5. You can't write a coherent summary--main character, antagonist, their goals, climax--even after writing a few full-length drafts. You still don't know what your book is about after stewing and bumbling around for two years.

6. Writing the book makes you hate writing and hate yourself even more.

7. When you look back on why you started writing the book in the first place, you realize your heart was never in it. Or you made compromises and departed from the original inspiring idea in an effort to write something more mind-blowing and marketable.

8. You sit down to work on the manuscript you "should" finish, and instead you end up scribbling on secret side projects that are "just for fun."

9. When you begin entertaining the idea of scrapping the book, you get more ideas for new novels in one day than you've had in the past two years--and feel excited to write them.

10. You've soldiered through and finished books in the past, so you know it's possible to do. If you've shelved everything you've ever started, this list might not be for you.

Agree? Disagree? When do you quit? When do you grit your teeth and keep typing words until THE END? And when do you put your manuscript in a secret file to revisit someday when you're a better writer?

1 comment:

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Oh, I agree with all of this. Brilliant! I said goodbye to a book of mine for over a year, but I am now planning on rewriting it. If I feel the same way about it when I try it again, I will shelve it for good. But the ideas I have for it now are so completely different, it's practically a different book anyway. We'll see what happens. Hopefully I'm at that "better writer" stage!