I hear this from so many of my writing friends. Guys, if you didn’t know, writing books is hard. It’s so hard to make sure you have the perfect characters who aren’t too perfect. It’s so hard coming up with a story line that hasn’t been used before. (Spoiler Alert: that’s not possible.) It’s hard to come up with little obstacles that keep the hero on their toes.
And that’s just the writing of the story.
Once that story is written and revised and edited, the age old problem of finding an agent, editor, and/or published comes up. So many people I know have queried to literally hundreds of agents. Not even publishers. Just the middle men, the agents. The field of writing is such a huge field that it’s nearly impossible to find a reputable agent and publisher. And don’t even get me started on the scam artists who say they’re agents or publishers and want to charge you thousands for your book. (Word to the wise, if they want a single penny from you when you are looking for an agent or publisher, run far away.)
But here is what I’ve learned on my decade long writing “career”:
It’s okay to slow down.
It’s okay to take a break.
It’s okay to change your project.
And, most of all, it’s okay to shelve a project and stop.
Once your writing loses it’s fun, once it becomes a chore and not an adventure, please take a step back. See why this is happening. I’ll be the first to tell you I hate the editing process. The revision process is okay, but the editing is so tedious. If you’re stuck in the editing process, that’s okay. Take your time (if you can - if you have any deadlines imposed by your agent or publisher, don’t procrastinate) and take breaks. If you’re stuck in the writing process of your first (or any other) draft, that’s okay. Put a bookmark in and take a break. Explore other worlds for a little while. It’s okay to tell your characters “Guys, I need a break. I’ll be back.”
Most of all, it’s okay to break up with your story.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn. Little 16 year old me had to do this. It wasn’t the first time I had quit on a story (e.g. Plinas, a 7 book heptalogy I started in middle school and got 3 books in before I burnt out) but my book I was working on at 16 was one I could not finish. I just couldn’t do it. It was the final book in a trilogy, the other two were written, but the characters had become too real. And not in a good way. A few of them were appearing in my nightmares. Their pain was my pain. And when I was 16, I had enough pain by myself.
So I said enough.
I haven’t finished that finale.
One day I hope to maybe pick it up again. One day I hope to start from scratch for that final book. Maybe when there’s been enough space and time between us. But have you tried to get back with an ex before? It’s messy and it’s not fun. And there are lots of compromises needed, and there are lessons that need to be learned. And those lessons haven’t been learned yet. At least not for me.
And that is okay.
Your health is far more important than words on a page. I don’t want you listening to anyone who says otherwise.
Your. Health. Matters.
Your story matters. And not the one on the page. The one you are living. You matter. And sometimes you need to step away from your writing to see that. Open that door and explore that big thing we call Earth. Your story can wait.
One day I’ll go rewrite Plinas, (I plan to condense 7 books down to 3 or 4.) One day I hope to finish the third book in the Unknown series. But now is not the time. And I don’t know if I will ever be ready to open that door back up. But I am okay with that. And I hope you will be okay with your own break as well.