15 June 2011

When To Pull The Plug

So we're at the the half-way point of this year's BuNoWriMo, and guess what? I'm not at all happy with what I have so far, so I am starting afresh.


Say what???

Yup, I'm starting afresh. I'm already several thousand words behind (or, er, nearing ten thousand words behind, actually), and the twelve thousand and something words that I do have, suck. And I do mean suck. Like, Dementor Suck. Now this is not a self-confidence problem, or a Bad Day problem, it's a story problem. The story sucks. I'm not enjoying writing it, I don't know (or even like) my characters, and the getting from A to B in the plot feels like I'm walking over hot coals.

It's just not working, and there are several reasons why. Primarily it is because I stupidly decided to try writing a different genre than what I am used to. To be fair, this has worked for me before, so it wasn't a completely 'out there' idea for me. Sadly it just hasn't flowed this time around. Another big reason is that I just haven't got my two main characters straight in my head. At the moment, their names come from suggestions from a friend, and this just hasn't worked for me. I didn't name them myself so I can't get to 'know' them (if that makes sense).

The good news is that I'm still happy with my general idea, and I still know how I want to end the novel, so the idea isn't completely null and void. Starting over at this stage of the WriMo is probably not the best thing to do, but writing something that feels like you are pulling teeth isn't exactly recommended either. I figure if I don't enjoy writing it, no-one will enjoy reading it, and if no-one will enjoy reading it, what is the point of writing it?

Not that I'm being hasty and deleting the file, mind you. There are bits here and there that I like, and they may come in handy at some point. But as from today, my word count is a big fat zero all over again, and I am going to humbly aim for thirty thousand words - 2k a day - for my final count. Not a full novel by all means, but half of one at the very least. I'd much rather thirty thousand words that I can use than fifty thousand words that will bog me down every time I look at them.

So my writerly 'advice' for today is to be brave enough to know when you're flogging a dead horse. If it feels like it isn't working, then it's probably time to take a step back. Work on something else for a while then go back to it. If it still feels hokey, save and close your file and store it away from your desktop (or close your notebook and stash it in the back of your junk cupboard). Forget about it for a while and go with something new. You may never get back to it, true, but on the other hand you may come across it one day and be hit with inspiration all over again.

I don't know about anyone else, but when I try to keep working on a project that feels awkward, I end up feeling really negative about my writing, and that's the last thing I need when I am trying to finish something. When it gets to that point, it's time to pull the plug.

5 comments:

Jan Morrison said...

I totally get you. Get off the deceased horse, find a fresh filly and ride as far as you can...
the idea is to write, no? Well, you've been doing that and finding out something you thought was something is nothing is still something. I know that makes sense. Trust me.

L.A Speedwing said...

Amen to that! If you don't feel good about yourself when you are writing this, then do get off that horse right away! ;-) And yes you are right, it does take courage to realise that.

Tundiel said...

Jan - It DOES make sense. *nods* And I'm about to mount my fresh filly (gotta love how innuendo-y that sounds *snort*).

L.A.Speedwing - (love the name!)I think knowing when to stop is a hard thing to accomplish. It depends how stubborn you are I guess...

Hart Johnson said...

This would be one of the reasons I can't pants. If I plan some, then I know going in whether it will go somewhere I can get excited about. I agree that you don't want to torture yourself. Any way you could write a middle you like, then write to the end, planning to rewrite the START? Whatever the case, I think you're making a great effort and support what you decide.

Chary Johnson said...

I think what you are doing is not only brave and practical but also very insightful. You saw that the story wasn't working so you put it aside and began anew. Awesome!