Writing is not for the faint of heart. As writers, we know from the onset of any new project that the first draft will not be perfect. Actually, it will be far, far, far from perfect. We expect rewrites, revisions, critiques, and edits, but what happens when you spend years on a story just to come to the conclusion you need to start over, again?
One key to sustaining a writing career is perseverance. You can’t give up. Every writing project is different, some come easy and some … well, they can leave you in tears.
In my own experience, I spent ten months working on a second book in a series only to have my Beta readers tell me they didn’t like my heroine at all. She came off as harsh with a chip on her shoulder.
I spent the next two months trying to figure out what was wrong with her and how to fix her.
When I finally diagnosed the problem, I realized that I needed my one character to be two. This meant most of the scenes were either rewritten or taken out altogether.
By the time I finished, I had physically taken the book apart scene by scene, rearranged the sequence of events, added a character, and wrote the necessary new scenes.
As I endeavored to complete this fourteen-month quest, I thought my eyes would cross from the amount of time I spent looking at the thing.
However, the end product exceeded all my expectations. The story flowed so much better, and the romance between the hero and heroine bloomed beautifully. The happily-ever-after caused a slight sigh to slip from my lips when I did the final read through before sending it to the editor.
But the only reason that story exists is because through God’s grace and a push or two from friends, I persevered.
Here are a few tips that helped me when I had to start all over, again that I’d like to share with you.
- Pray. This is the one essential. Give your feelings of frustration to the Lord and let Him fill you with His peace. He has answers.
- Talk with other writers. They can encourage you with their own war stories. You’ll be surprised by how many authors go through this, and all are willing to share their experience and how they handled it with you.
- Seek out books on revision. First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S. Wiesner has some excellent advice and worksheets to step you through the process, and I am sure there are others out there that can work for you.
- Call a friend. Ask a friend to act as an accountability partner to keep you from quitting. Frustration and the feelings of defeat can pull you down, making the task in front of you seem impossible. A friend holding you to your goal of finishing can be a great motivator. Plus, they can act as your cheerleader along the way.
Did I enjoy starting all over again on that fifth draft? No.
But am I glad I did it? Yes.
Just know, every writer experiences the ups and downs of emotions as they meet the challenges set before them in their writing journey. The difference comes in how you persevere in those challenges.
Remember, crying is allowed, as long as you move forward once you’re done.
Writing Prompt: Sarah shut her laptop, fighting back the tears. The critique pointed out all the bare places in her manuscript. Beef it up was the consensus. For whatever reason, the story didn’t work.