When You Hate Your Novel

Anonymous asked: “Hi Lizard! I have a huge problem: in the middle of my first draft I’ve realized that there are parts of my story I don’t feel passionate about, or just don’t work, and I would need to go back and change it all and start over again. The point is that I feel like a failure leaving the first draft unfinished and starting from scratch. What should I do?”

So it’s kind of a funny thing. This morning a friend of mine asked me if she should put aside her novel to work on another one. It’s never an easy decision to put a novel aside for later, but in this case we talked it out. 

It was getting hard to write, scenes weren’t working, she wanted to work on literally anything other than her novel, and I think ultimately, it was a good choice. While I was kind of acting as a sounding board, the truth is she’d pretty much made up her mind before even asking me. The last time I did this, I needed to talk it out with a friend as well and while I knew what I wanted to do, I still needed to talk it out with someone, because it’s such a hard decision. In the end though, I was all the better for it. I could go back to writing and write something fresh where I could write scenes that work – while not perfectly – better. The scenes are all better

Sometimes you need to sit on a scene or a story for awhile, figure out some things about it in your head before you sit down to write. There are some novel that writers sit on for years before finally sitting down to write. If your novel is not working now, it could be one of those novels and that’s okay. It is a hard decision to put a novel aside but the truth is it happens all the time. If I’m writing something that isn’t working, I put it aside and work on something else that can work. The experience of doing that, even if it’s writing short stories or something separate for a little while can help me figure out what’s wrong with the failed scenes in the novel set aside. 

Sometimes too, it’s going to be a matter of rediscovering your passion for writing. For me, that happens when I can just get lost in a scene. I love it when that happens. So, I’ll sit down to write something and let my mind wander. I set out goals of 2,000 words for the day and somewhere for me, usually between 650 and 900 I’ll get lost in the scene and just begin to enjoy writing again. It’s going to be a matter of finding out what tricks work for you, but I’m always inspired while actually in the thick of it – whatever I happen to be working on. 

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