My First IWSG Post: Manuscript Commitment Issues



A lot of the blogs I read participate in this thing called the Insecure Writers SupportGroup, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. While I have been reading these posts for a few months, I have not joined in… until today. The thing about being insecure about writing is that sometimes you feel insecure about revealing your insecurities. This is perhaps why I did not join the IWSG blogfest until today, and why it is best that I do.

While I try to offer support to other writers on my blog, as well as providing intriguing books for writers and bibliophiles to read, I do not discuss my own writing very often. The IWSG offers a great way to get all that stuff off your chest about your writing, and that is how I plan to use it. Even if no one cares. So there.

Right now I am feeling insecure about my writing for two reasons: 1) I have had little time to write so far this summer, and 2) I am having a difficult time focusing on just one manuscript at a time. In my entire writing career (if you can call it a career; I suppose I should say “in my entire life”) I have finished the first draft of two novels. Neither went anywhere, and they have been laid to rest. In the past two years, I have started five or six new novels, but the farthest I have gotten is to about 20,000 words before feeling stuck. 

I think it’s because I’ve been looking back at those two completed manuscripts and looking at them as failures rather than as progress. I have been unable to trudge onward because I am afraid my next work-in-progress will end up in the dump drawer beside those first two.I am afraid to finish a first draft, so I don't finish and simply move onto a new project when I start to feel too attached to the current one.

How do you deal with laying a long-term work to rest? How do you move on to the next project with confidence? How do you stick with a single project until the end?

Peace, Aimee

22 comments:

  1. I've felt the same way about projects. I have a lot of unfinished manuscripts; but for the three I completed, gathering inspiration (notes, images, music) and going over them can keep me working on a story.

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  2. We've all got unfinished manuscripts taking up space. And finished ones too. :)

    It's all work that adds to our experience and our expertise as writers though. I think, too, it takes a lot of kissing frogs before we find that prince of a manuscript, the one that we can't wait to work on and revise until it shines.

    Welcome to the IWSG!

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  3. Welcome to the group. Glad you decided to join.
    I hope you won't give up. Learn more and improve your writing, then go back to those stories. I bet you can get them whipped into shape once you've been away for a while and come back at them with fresh eyes and fresh skills.

    I've set my 1st WIP and its sequel aside to write a third (stand alone) with the intention of it being my debut. And also with the intention of going back and editing my first two beloved stories. ;)

    Great post. :)
    ISWG #288

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  4. I be honest, I don't. If I spend that much time writing something, I'm gonna try to find it a home. :) What if you went back and re-read your trunked books? Do you think of you edited they would be readable? I bet they would be. My first drafts are always a mess.. always. I can't tell you how bad lol. But they always seem to come together in the end. You could give it a shot... couldn't hurt :)

    FOund you through IWSG Kelly

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  5. I'm usually working on more than one project at a time. If I need to move on from something, I don't kill it off. I leave it in my JUNKYARD. I can go back and revisit it later, restore it in whole, or raid it for piece parts for another story. I don;t throw anything away. Waste not, want not.

    Have a happy Fourth of July!

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  6. I only set aside a project to sit and wait when the first draft has been finished. There have been many times when I want to give up on a project because I've hit a wall or just got sick of the story, but I see it through before moving my heart onto the next project. It's just a matter of staying focused enough to finish. I know others who fight to leave a project behind, but I've just never been able to do that since writing my first novel. Hopefully you'll figure out a more solid path for your writing.

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  7. You can always revisit those old stories. It is hard not to get distracted. A new idea will always seem more shiny and we're all foul to that! It's a matter of determining you'll get to the end even through that difficult middle part where perhaps the novel isn't coming as easy as the beginning. It's hard. I think that's where a blog can help, because we can all encourage you to! My first IWSG, nice to be here.

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  8. Oh Aimee, I'm glad you decided to "join" the IWSG because it is a wonderful forum for venting our deep dark insecurities and receiving some wisdom in return. You have not failed. You actually completed two novels. Do you have any idea how awesome that is? I'm working on my first one and I sometimes wonder if I'll ever be able to finish it. A writing coach once told me if there are multiple projects, tune in and see which one is calling to you the most and focus on that one. On that day. The next day it might be different.
    Karen

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  9. Hi Aimee nice to meet you. I'll tell you how I see a project through to completion, I write the end first. That way I have to find a way to get there. Crazy, I know, but it works for me.

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  10. Hi Aimee. Just popping over from Write Escape. New Follower! : )
    Finish, Aimee. Finish!! You must get past those humps. Beginnings are always easier. The new faces. The new world. You begin to dip into it all, but you must get to its end. I do not, and can not, move between stories. I have a file of ideas on the ready for me to begin, but I must complete as in finished, edited to the point of blindness, and begun the process of querying before I start something new. It's too alive for me to do it any other way.
    I suggest to you, that you pull out the one that has the most appeal, the one that tugs at your heart, and see it through. Get your crit partners up and going, and see it through to its end. Don't worry about what you've written before. Everything you write. Every word, is a stepping stone.

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  11. Hi Aimee! For what it's worth, you have accomplished something--two manuscripts is two more than most people will ever finish!

    As for finishing a stalled project... well, I just brute-force it. If there is nothing wrong with the story, I make myself finish it before moving on to the next shiny idea. I tell myself that working on the shiny new idea is a reward for finishing my current WIP. The first draft of a brute-force method may not be pretty, but that's what editing is for, right? :)

    Some people can work on multiple projects at a time--I am in awe of those people, as my brain doesn't work that way. Have you tried working on something until you get stuck, switching to something else, and then switching back when you get stuck again?

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  12. Good questions, Aimee. I've changed over the years. It doesn't bother me to put something aside for a time. I had to do that with my Vietnam political thriller because agent after agent told me in the late 90s and early 2000 that nobody was interested in that war. Since that's changing now, I've pulled out the ms and am going through it with a fine-toothed comb. These stories come to us when they will, but that may not be the right time for the publishing world.

    I've always had a book in mind just before I reach the end of my current WIP. Once that didn't happen and I actually thought I was done for. A year later, two new mss came to mind.

    My first ms is in a box in the antic. I'm not the only one who can say that. There's no set rules in this profession. But you finished 2 mss, that's awesome! Really. Look how many famous authors were only ever one-book wonders? I'm already inspired by you.

    Thanks for joining my blog.

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  13. Hi Aimee! First off, thanks for joining my blog! Second, let me encourage you not to shelve your manuscripts. Re-work them, add some things, change some things, or whatever. But never give up! Stories that come from inside you are worth hanging on to and finding a home for them. Dreams come by a multitude of business, so never give up hope.

    If need be, give them a rest. Sometimes that helps. Move on to something new. Who knows? Maybe a new project will spark some creativity or inspiration for the two you are holding onto.

    Keep your chin up!
    Talynn

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  14. No writing is a waste -- you learn from everything your write. But I hope that you have a crit group and others reading your writing, too. It's harder to learn if you're writing in a vacuum without the input of others who have a clearer picture.

    You can also learn a lot -- some say even more -- by revising. So Even if you can't seem to finish a draft, if you get feedback ad revise the 20k you have, then you've definitively accomplished something good.

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  15. Excellent feedback from all those before me...

    So then, my contribution is this - type; type often; type fast, type slow; type when you are on the go (except when driving); type while laughing, type while crying; type early, type late; type, type, type.

    But most of all type from a place of passion - no passion, no point. It all comes from a passion. Find it...then run with it...run fast, run hard, run long; run it over the finish line.

    Yup...type and run. Run and type...my passion; my drive!

    Thanks for popping over to PEARSON REPORT I hope you'll drop by again!

    Cheers, Jenny

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  16. It happens to me all the time that I start with one project and everything seems to flow perfectly, then, around half way in, I feel stuck and nothing seems to flow anymore. I don't know how to solve the emerging problems and I run out of steam. It is at that point that I devote my energy to another project, one I have started but not finished, or that new idea that's bugging my head. I go with it for a few months and then, suddenly, the cork is lifted and I can go back to the suspended project with the spirit to finish it.

    I found this technique after a few writer friends advised me to do it like that and so far I swear it works like a charm. Do not think of those two old MS as dead and useless, you can re-read them and improve them. This is a never-ending job of trying to improve MS one draft at a time. Do not despair, you're not alone and you can make it. Believe in yourself!

    From Diary of a Writer in Progress

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  17. I prefer to stick with one thing, but am trying to focus on two. It's hard. As for those two books living in your drawer...well, I use this quote for the one book in mine: "Failure is success postponed."

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  18. Aimee, I don't know if this is helpful, but it took me 10 years once to write a short story. But once it was written, I really liked it. :)

    Although - I've also suffered through terrible writer's block - which has lasted for years! What I've did is start my blog. I have a fast commitment to write and put something out there week. The nice feedback has definitely helped to ease some of the crippling self-doubt I can feel.

    So, I don't know if doing something like that would be helpful to you, but I think authors who are blocked need encouragement and praise. We need to give our little creative artists inside of us water, plant food and sunlight, so they put out little green branches until they blossom into a pretty artistic flower.

    How's that for a metaphor? :)

    Keep on trucking, Aimee! :)

    You have talent, Aimee,

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  19. Just because you're not doing anything with finished writing doesn't mean its a failure. It's finished and that is a huge accomplishment in itself. You may not think so but remember all the hours you put into writing them to begin with. All we can do is keep trying, keep making ourselves happy, keep going. I wish you the best of luck and I hope you continue to write and pursue your dreams. Heather

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  20. Any writing - even just posting on a blog - is good writing and all goes to improve your skills! I love Liza's quote - "failure is success postponed" I must remember that myself!

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  21. I've been busy rebuilding my blog, which was the only way to make the Follower gadget work again. Just stopping by to let you know it's now functional. :)

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  22. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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