Abandoning a 171 page manuscript

On January 4th, 2015, I did something that I promised myself that I would never do again. Something that happened on a weekly basis when teenage Sarah started every story that popped into her head. But something that has grown so infrequent that it hasn’t happened since 2013.

I abandoned a manuscript.

Not just any manuscript, mind you. My NaNoWriMo 2014 novel that had reached 171 (double-spaced) pages and over 53,000 words.

The two months I worked on that novel consisted of sessions where I forced words out via WriteorDie. I never connected with my main character or fell in love with her story. It felt more like a gimmick than an actual novel with a plot and subplots.

So when I sat down at my laptop and opened up the story document after taking a break during the last week of December, I looked at the word count. I figured that each of the six chapters would hit about fifteen thousand words for a grand total of ninety thousand words. I needed another thirty-seven thousand before I hit that goal, and I wasn’t even sure that the story that I planned out would get done in that number of words.

The decision to walk away came over me pretty suddenly. One minute I prepared to soldier through, and the next I decided that I didn’t want to write it anymore. Much to my surprise, I wasn’t disappointed in breaking my streak of finishing stories. I actually felt relieved.

Days later, my opinion hasn’t changed. No guilt or regret for abandoning the project. I’m actually excited for the projects now on my plate, and I’m practically chomping at the bit to get started. Bad days will happen, where I want to let the story fall by the wayside because the words refuse to flow from my brain all the way to my fingers. They get caught up in my elbows, or maybe my wrists.

I won’t lie; I’m nervous about whether or not I’ll be able to finish another story. The fact that I just finished a five thousand word plus short story helps, but it’s not a novel.

The best answer is that I won’t know until I start writing another book. I’m going to do my homework this time, outline and create character profiles until I’m positive that I have more than enough to write. Then I’ll put my head down and write.

Have you abandoned a major project? How did you bounce back?

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