The book I’m working on now has tried and tested me. I only just made my way through the stubborn first draft, and am now trying to put together its fractured pieces. But before the draft was finished, I considered giving up a number of times. These are some of the things I learned through persistence:
Writing is hard
I always knew this. Part of the thrill of writing is practising and watching your skill in the craft adapt and grow. I’ve always found writing came to me incredibly naturally, but not with this story. This one sat me down, and made me feel as though I’d never written a word in my entire life.
It’s okay to adjust your goals
My original goal for this project was to have the first draft complete by the end of December 2019. I eventually finished it in mid-April 2020. Missing a goal/deadline is so disheartening, so I learned to adapt to this simple fact; it’s okay to adjust your goals. Rather than sink beneath the anguish of missing your target, focus your energy on reaching a new one. Life is unpredictable, and there’s no shame in things taking longer than you expected.
A little every day is enough
I wrote a whole post on this, because the truth of this is so freeing. It’s better to write one page than nothing. Hell, it’s better to write once sentence than nothing. And if some days all you manage is one sentence, then that’s okay. You’re still a step closer to your goals.
The sense of achievement is staggering
Finishing a project is important. Your learn so much about the writing process by sticking at something, and seeing it through despite the bumps in the ride. And when you finally do reach a goal, be it the end of a draft, or another round of edits, the sense of achievement is staggering. That’s the reward for carrying on.
Never give up
You might not think you’ve got it in you, but you have. Never give up, don’t let those writer’s worries and doubtsget you down. There’s a quote I love, from the book Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom, that says “Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hold on too long.” I think this is key. If you really can’t connect with the story, and you feel you’d flourish by starting a new project, then that’s okay. But if deep down you still really want to write that book, then don’t let go to soon. You’ll get there.
Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hold on too long.” – Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie
Do you have any tips for pushing through when your work in progress is challenging you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.