Over the past few weeks, I’ve had an internal struggle, and I think it’s a struggle a lot of writers have. As I came closer and closer to the end of my draft, I got distracted, frustrated and found myself asking “do I even bother finishing that draft?” I want to break down how I decided to finish it and why I was debating it to begin with. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a writer, we all have our doubts sometimes. Finishing that draft or even making the decision to finish is a decision we have to make with every draft. Though sometimes we choose not to.
The Back Story
I think I started this draft of Hit List like, in September or August. A while ago. Typically, I can write a full draft in about two and a half to three months, easily. It’s now February and I just finished this draft. I’ve mentioned many times on this blog how Hit List is what I consider to be the “end of the first part” of my series. So not only do I have to write a solid story, I have to wrap up all the loose ends from previous stories. It’s the ending.
With that, Hit List also follows on the heels of its predecessor pretty quickly chronologically, meaning the events in Hit List happen just days after Justice & Lies. It’s a conclusion to Justice & Lies, but it also has to be its own story.
There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of things I need to track. And the longer it took, the more I felt like a failure. Then I found myself wondering if I wanted to even follow through?
The Thought Process
At first, I felt like I could walk away. I need a break to try something new. In all the time I’ve been a writer, I’ve never actually started a new book series. I’ve done a few stand-alone drafts, but never have I attempted to plan a whole series at once. While I’m excited to try flexing these creative muscles, at the same time I’m not sure I’m quite as ready to leave my characters as I thought I was.
When I first started wondering if I was going to finish my draft, I had about 15,000 words left and I just wasn’t feeling it. 15,000 words felt like a hard number to hit.
So one more morning last week, during my lunch break at work, I opened up Scrivener and started writing. It wasn’t a Cassie story, and I got a few hundred words done in just a few moments. The words came out fast, but I realized I wasn’t ready for it.
I don’t like having unfinished books sitting around, especially not with my book series, which I think was the biggest reason I stuck with it. While I’m excited to start something new, I really want to at least have an ending on this book.
In the end, I finished this draft over this weekend and I’m happy I did. There’s something that really makes a difference to just write an ending to the story.
When it comes to deciding whether or not you finish your draft, there are a few things you need to ask yourself:
- How close are you to the end of that story?
- If you come back to it, will you be doing edits or a full rewrite of the story?
- Why do you want to stop working on it and go do something else?
I’m a big believer in the power of “why.” Knowing why you want to do something or in this case, stop doing something, you need to have a valid reason why. I’m not saying there are no valid reasons, but I’m wary of the idea of just walking away from a draft, especially when I’ve invested this much time in it already.
While I say that, I realize that at the end of the day, sometimes the story we’re working on just doesn’t work and we have to walk away. At the end of the day, only you can decide whether to walk away from your draft but know that all of us do have our doubts on the stories we create. It sucks, and dealing with the doubt is no fun.