A Writing Journey

A question many writers face (okay, at least the writers I talk to) is whether or not to continue a story when you aren’t feeling it. Maybe you had a great idea to start with, maybe you have been beating your head against this wall for years and it isn’t going anywhere, maybe you challenged yourself*.

So my answer comes in two parts.

The first part: yes, keep writing. But maybe do a little more building (if it’s still in the “new story” stage). Think about political and economic systems and how they will affect your characters. Think about the resources they have. Building not doing it for you? Work on characters. And, of course, feel free to take breaks. I’m not saying 20-minute breaks. I’m saying let that story sit for a few days without writing. Does this mean you aren’t working on it? Of course not. It means you are thinking, and letting your creative juices refill. (I firmly believe that we can’t be creative every single moment of every single day. We wear ourselves out and prevent anything new and meaningful from taking shape. We need respite.)

The second part: no, let the story go. Let me tell you a quick story. When I was in high school I had a best friend who was also a writer. And guess what we did most of the times we hung out? We wrote together. We finished an entire novel. And then we had a falling out. We made up, eventually, but we never wrote together again. I told her I wanted to go ahead with the story we created and continue with the characters and she was okay with that. Clearly I wanted to change the story some, edit and revise and improve. It hasn’t really gone anywhere. Every now and then I come back to it and beat my head against that story some more. What I need to do is let it go. (I really, really need to just let it go and quit trying to spin it so there is life there again. It’s dead, it’s gone.)

I’m guessing you’ve heard this next little tidbit before: write what you want to read. Or better yet, write what makes you come alive. If the thing you are working on feels like a prison, a death sentence, mud caked on your skin or some really awful illness, let it go. Obviously our writing is going to give us headaches sometimes. A headache is not a reason to quit. Push through that shit. Even if you’ve got some broken bone, get yourself the help you need (okay, maybe a plot hole means reworking something in the early story). But if it doesn’t make you feel alive, drop it and run.

Write on,


*And yeah, this came up because my nano short story has made me feel dead inside. Romance ain’t my thing. And though I finished the story (rising action, climax, and falling action), I did not make word count. And I don’t have it in me to meet it. I’m about 4,000 shy. I learned my lesson. I will not write romance again.


Comments on: "Should You Continue With a Story You Just Don’t Feel?" (1)

  1. Good way to put it – about whether it makes you feel dead or come alive. There was a time when I wasn’t feeling my current WIP. It was like slogging through mud trying to write it. But the ideas behind it still made me glow when I thought about them, so I knew it was worth writing, even if not *right then.* I’m back in it now, full force(!), and even though I have frustrations with it at times, I love it.

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