Monday, November 8, 2010

Crisis of Confidence

I’ve been working on my first novel for about four years now and this weekend I decided that it’s awful.

I was in the middle of editing in order to give a draft to my primary beta reader next week and as I read and rewrote and read and rewrote I became more and more convinced that the story is plodding, predictable and just plain boring.

I feel sure that when I give it to my reader she’s going to tell me that the entire story doesn’t work and that I need to go back to the drawing board (she’d done it before).

After this much time spent with this story and these characters I’m not sure that I have it in me to start again. You can imagine how much fun I was to be with this weekend.

So what to do? Go on? Give up? Start another book? Take Kate’s suggestion and start drinking heavily?

To be honest, I don’t know. But I’ve come this far and invested this much that I think I owe it to this story and these characters to keep going and see if I can make it work.

I know that every writer has been at this place in the process before. What do you do when you’re here?

Are there any good restaurants?


  1. I think we've all been here--for sure. The best advice I can give is: take some time away and write something else. In the process of writing something else, you might be able to see what isn't working with the first one.

    And if you find yourself thinking about the characters and loving the story of that first one, then you know you have something worth salvaging. If not, then...move on.

    I know I've fallen into the trap of thinking I'm too invested in something to give up. I don't think that's true in writing. You learn much in four years. Hope that helps!

  2. Sierra's right. Step away. Do something else. Something that's fun. Allow yourself a chance to breathe.
    Maybe give your novel to a few friends and have them read it. When you have just one primary reader, all the advice you have to work with one-sided. They're telling you what they would do in your situation. You need a lot more angles than that if you want your novel to be fuller.
    Of course, after those things you need to drink. And get an overnight babysitter, because you are going to be hungover.

  3. You're both right of course. And even if I do end up abandoning this project, it's taught me SO much, all of which I will carry on to whatever I work on next.

    Time spent writing is never wasted time, right?


    And maybe when a certain critique partner is finished with nanowrimo I'll send her the rest of the book to read and give me her input - wink, wink.

  4. Awww :( See what your beta reader says first. Also, I would get several people's opinions before trashing it all together. Lots of writers shelve their first novel when they see it's not working. You could always start something else and then go back to it at some point?

  5. Thanks Lisa, all good suggestions. I will wait until my beta reader gives me feedback and then think about how I want to proceed.

    As I was editing on the train last night I actually started to feel more positive about the ms too.