Yeah, I know, the song says, “breaking up is hard to do,” but I think giving up is even harder. At least for me. I’ve heard that there comes a time when a manuscript has to be put aside and we have to move on. While I don’t disagree with this, I think putting it aside and giving up on it are two different things. I’ve set manuscripts aside, but I’ve never given up on them–well, except for the romance I wrote back in high school. *grin* While I had no problem letting go of THAT one, there are others I just can’t walk away from. I believe in them. Sure, they’ve been through revisions and rewrites and restructurings and revisions and rewrites and restructurings and . . . well you get the picture.
I’m in the process of rewriting my first MG–again! I love the story and characters too much to let them sit in a file and never come out to play. Granted, the rewrite isn’t the only thing I’m working on, I also have a YA idea I’m writing and another MG I’m writing, and several rhyming picture books I’m trying to convert to prose (just to see if I can). And this morning I got an awesome idea for a new YA (which I added to my LONG list of ideas for YAs).
Now, this isn’t usually the way I work, I promise. One idea takes off and I work on it exclusively, but that’s been frustrating in the past. At times I hated a story and felt forced into working on it when my heart wasn’t in it (and it shows in the scenes I wrote during that time). Or, I haven’t done any writing that day because I was stuck on a scene and couldn’t move forward. I’ve found it much easier to leave the project(s) alone for a day or so and work on something else until I’m ready to move back in. This helps me avoid writer’s block because I always have something else to go to when I’m stuck, and by the time I’m ready to go back to the project I left, my brain has worked through the block and I can move forward. Everyone has their own writing method(s), and right now, this works for me.
This whole idea of moving on to something new and leaving old work behind as a learning experience may work for other people–and, in my case, it worked for that high school days novel–but for certain projects, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with coming back to them once you’ve learned more about writing and can improve them.
That being said, I’m not a proponent of working to revive a dead manuscript at the exclusion of all other writing endeavors either. No one should spend all their time redoing the same novel over and over and over. We do have to write other things because it’s only through the new that we learn the mistakes we made in the old. If we wallow in the old, we miss the experience of the new.
I’m sure there are exceptions to this (there always are), but most of us aren’t the exception. I’m not saying there’s nothing new to be learned from continuing to work on the same manuscript for years at a time (that’s how I started out), but I do think more new knowledge comes from exploring other characters and their voices.
Anyway, this little post is just my way of saying we shouldn’t always give up on our manuscripts. Set them aside, write something new, but don’t be afraid to come back to that set aside story. If we believe in something that much, chances are, we believe in it for a reason. Keep coming back to that story until there’s nothing left to believe in.
May you all have a great weekend. =)