Five Signs It’s Time To Move On

Alternative titles: ‘On Letting Go’ or ‘How to know when you’re riding a dead horse’ 

photo-1427434846691-47fc561d1179

This isn’t something I’ve talked about much, not even on Twitter, but I’ve recently stopped working on a novel I’ve spent just over a year writing. And whilst a year doesn’t seem that long at all, the foundation of that story originated from a novel I started writing in 2009 which was a little while ago now.

Why did I stop writing it then? It was obviously going somewhere…

Actually it wasn’t. I was just so invested in the story I couldn’t see the reality; it was dead and had been for a while. The signs were there, they always had been, I just hadn’t been aware. So, to shift the possible fog before you, here are some signs that your work in progress isn’t progressing and has, in fact, died:

  • You consistently struggle to write it and you’re convinced your struggle originates from the dreaded writers’ block. Be careful, you could very well be fooling yourself here; try to distance yourself from the situation, analyse it, are you struggling to write because you’re blocked or because you don’t like the idea anymore? It’s perfectly alright to fall out of love with a story; it just means it wasn’t ‘the one’.
  • It has been a while since you’ve made any real progress on it. And it’s not that you’ve been busy, you’ve had the time, you’ve just procrastinated it away talking about writing instead of doing any. I’m not saying you should constantly be making progress, but you should be heading in a (and by that I mean any) direction.
  • Whilst you’re still excited about the project, especially when you tell friends and family about it, the excitement doesn’t follow you to your desk, it abandons you at the door. The idea still might excite you, but the writing of it doesn’t and that’s when you know you have got to start asking yourself the big question; will it work?
  • You slowly find that you don’t want to spend any more time than necessary in the world you created; you bolt for the door the second a distraction comes along. Your procrastination, as a result, hits an all time high; in fact you’ve rearranged your bookshelves several times now and done all your laundry (for once).
  • Writing is something you feel guilty about; you know you should be doing more of it, and you really want to be doing more of it, but just thinking about the work you need to do on your novel makes you cringe (but that’s just writers’ block, isn’t it?) and find something else to do.

If you ticked any of those ‘boxes’ it might be worth sitting down, perhaps with a friend or two, and discussing the story at length; see whether or not there can be any changes made to it that will excite you in the long-term, or if you are, in fact, riding a dead horse.

Remember, just because your horse is dead, it doesn’t mean you lose your memory of it; it’ll always be there with you. Try not to resurrect it in your next novel, in fact I’d recommend moving onto a fresh document.

Good luck!

Have you ever found yourself clinging to a story you knew, deep down, wouldn’t work? How did you come to terms with this? What were some ‘signs’ you noticed? Next post I’ll look at starting a completely new project, so tune in tomorrow if you want to read about that!

Janna

The amazing image used in today’s post is by Vladimir Kudinov.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Five Signs It’s Time To Move On

  1. Melfka says:

    It’s a very good post! I think it indicates a mature writer: the one who knows some things are better let go. Too many people cling to their first project, trying to make it worthwhile, instead of just moving on to something new and use all their experience to write a better novel.
    I’ve been in situations like this, and all my previous projects are on the backburner for various reasons at the moment. There might be time I will come back to them, but I know that it might as well never happen. I’m fine with it.

    Like

    • jannakaixer says:

      Thank you! I suppose it does; I hadn’t really thought of it that way but you’re right. That’s exactly what I was doing – clinging to my first ‘real’ project instead of moving on and trying something new.

      I think that’s the key – realising that just because you’ve stopped working on something doesn’t mean it ceases to exist or you can’t return to it sometime in the future.

      Thank you for your comment!

      Janna

      Liked by 1 person

  2. QuackPoet (@Aluenvey) says:

    I hope you’re able to start a new book again.

    I know I worked on this one dystopian for nine years. At some point I’d rather just let it go. I’ve become a largely different writer now. So I’m ready to move on.

    Question: Do you find themes in your own work that feel like a product of its time, and thus your work then feels more dated than your work now?

    Like

    • jannakaixer says:

      Thanks! I actually have managed to get something new off the ground, much to my amazement, and it’s the polar opposite of the story I’d been clinging to which is very exciting.

      Wow, nine years is a really long time! I can imagine you would have improved and changed the way in which you write a lot during that time. It’s great to hear you acknowledge that you’re very different as a writer now; I think that was what I found with my writing too, and it wouldn’t stop changing either!

      I think so; I find a lot of my writing reflects my emotions at the time of writing which, in turn, are affected by things that happened to me or around me. And because this is all happened in the past, and quite a while ago now, it all feels rather dated though I can still sympathise with it and (sort of) get into that headspace. My more recent work reflects more mature emotions and differing ones too so I feel more connected to it. What have you found with your work?

      Thank you for your comment!

      Janna

      Like

  3. cassietheweird says:

    Great post 🙂
    I’ve never really had the focus to stay on one story for an entire year. A a result, I’ve stopped and started so many projects I’ve lost count. But there are a couple that I’m sticking with, ones that I actually want to get somewhere with. I just alternate which one I’m working on from time to time.
    But, yeah, there are others which I’ve just put down, knowing they weren’t ever getting done.

    Like

    • jannakaixer says:

      Thank you!

      That must be hard! But I guess in starting and stopping various stories you would be able to experiment more and find your ‘voice’ easier than someone, like me, who clings to one story for years. I think it’s fine to alternate between a couple; I’m going to be doing that soon which is beyond exciting to me! I think that’s a natural part of writing that we have to accept.

      Thank you for your comment!

      Janna

      Like

  4. Saulus Sedai (@SaulusSedai) says:

    A few months ago I started a short story that I felt pretty excited about, but I couldn’t think of an ending I liked, so I have put it aside with the hope that someday something will occur to me. It’s dead for now, but I hope someday to resurrect it. 😉

    Like

    • jannakaixer says:

      I did the exact same thing! It was a rather science-fiction-y short story so I was a little uncomfortable writing it in the first place, but the reason I stopped was because I couldn’t find a suitable ending. I’m sure you’ll think of something eventually and it’ll end up resurrected and published! 😀

      Thanks for the comment!

      Janna

      Like

  5. Zaelyna Beck (@zaelyna) says:

    There needs to be a support group for those of us trying to move on from a project. Sometimes, at least in my case, so much time and energy gets invested into it, that when it’s dead/time to move on, attempting to start a new project can be just as challenging. Learning to let go is hard. Characters come to life and we live with them for a brief moment in time, and saying goodbye can be tough.

    Like

    • jannakaixer says:

      What a lovely idea! There really should! Or at least a hashtag that people can use to create a community online to help one another. Letting go is one thing but starting anew and getting over your last project is a whole other journey and a rather difficult one. It would be amazing to have a support system somewhere.

      Thank you for your comment!

      Janna

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s