Holding onto Your Story

6:00 AM

Sorry for the delay in comment replies last week! I was on a trip that lasted till Wendesday and things were a lot busier than I anticipated so I wasn't able to get online and hang with you guys. Thank you for the love though! I really appreciate it *beams and hugs all of you and hands out coffees and hot chocolates*

Anyways.

A few weeks ago I talked about letting go of your story. About how, once its purpose is accomplished, we can become better writers by letting it go instead of keeping at it, editing and editing and writing and rewriting when really, the time has come to give it up and move on.


This week I thought I'd talk about the other side of the coin.



You've been working on a novel for a year. Maybe two. Or three. Let's say three.

So you've been working on a novel for three years. And you just don't know if it's worth it. Despite all your hard work, the plot is a wreck. Your characters are being stubborn and not doing what you want. The world building is cliche, the pacing all whacked up and you've just been so close to this story for so stinkin' long that you can't see it anymore and SOMEONE SEND HELP.

It's at this point when the infamous "writers block" sets in. Then one of two things will happen.

One, you'll put the book aside for a bit and read or brainstorm your way out of it.

Two, you'll put the book aside and you won't pick it up again.

Now, I've never fully abandoned a project I had taken on. I don't consider my first series "abandoned". Yes, I've let it go (and the whole Letting Go of your Story post was about that series) but in a way, I'm still holding onto it.

And I certainly have felt all the above feelings towards my WIP. *groans and slams forehead against keyboard* The plot has given me so. much. grief. I wrote the first draft in 2015 for nano, and even after that I still didn't know how the book was going to end. HOW DO YOU WRITE A BOOK AND STILL NOT KNOW HOW IT ENDS.

Well, I am a pro at that. Just ask me about it and I'll teach you all the ways.

There comes a point for everyone when you just want to give up. Some have it harder than others.

Is this story really worth it, after all? Is it worth all this time and pain and sweat and tears and creativity?

Is it worth holding onto?

The Thief's Conspiracy turned a year old in October. I took on the project in May-ish of 2015, though, and planned stuff out for five months before actually writing it. A good chunk of one of my journals holds the first bits of brainstorming I did for this, and then I've already completely filled one journal with notes on it.

Point is: I've spent a lot of time and a lot of work on this. But my progress is so slow. I've got The Dream Walkers sitting here, all sparkly and pretty in it's first draft glory, and I'm more happy and proud of that, a work that took me 30 days, than a draft I spent a whole year on.

HOW DOES THAT WORK? Goodness.

It's really tempting just to toss TC out the window and forget about it. Middle Grade likes me better apparently. I'm a failure with YA. Right?

Let's stop here and make a list. Because we need to sort some things out.


Point One /// you have to let go of it

Hear me out! This might sound like a contradiction, but it's not.

In order to truly stick to your story, to hold on to it and not give up on it, you have to let it go. You have to realize that its flaws and imperfections do not define you. Because if you let those mistakes determine what kind of a writer or person you are, it will crumble your confidence. You can't do that to yourself.

You have to let it go. Say, yes this is my story. But it is not me. I'm working through the problems because I believe it can be a great novel someday.

That's the first big step. If you don't let go of it, you're going to hate on yourself during edits. You're going to berate yourself, wondering why you can't be a better writer. Wondering what's wrong with you to have made this story such a mess, and how could you possibly have made such a mistake in thinking you could write this story?

You have to let that go. Every book comes with its problems. And likelihood is, the harder stories, the ones that take the most work, are going to be the greatest works you'll ever produce.


Point Two /// is it worth it?

You have to decide if the story is worth it. I'd love to tell you yes, your story is worth it. But sadly, that might not be the case. Some stories are good stepping stones. They teach us valuables things about writing, and about ourselves.

And they aren't meant to be more. They are just for you, and they don't need to go out into the world.

But only you can make that call.

Only you can look on the pages of your manuscript and decide if it's worth it. Only you can know. Only you can decide.


Point Three /// what do you feel?

Why are you considering letting go of your story? Of putting it down and never touching it again?

Is it because you think it will never be good enough? That it will never stand a chance? That the plot is just a wreck and can't be fixed, and the characters are all flat and it's just not worth it?

If you're feeling these kinds of thoughts, I BEG YOU. Hold onto it. Those thoughts are not good, and they're definitely not from God. If you're striving to write what He wants you to write, you won't put down a book because of feelings like that. Those are not from Him. Think about it. If God wants you to put a project down, how would He tell you to do so? He would not tell you you don't have what it takes. He would show you that your energy could be spent on a story that maybe carries a message you and the world need more than the last one.

Think about it and pray. And if you decide to stick with it, you'll have to take one more point:


Point Four /// you have to love it

Love is not a feeling. Love is a choice.

Let's use siblings as an example here.

We don't always like our siblings. That's just the truth of it. It's impossible to be filled with love and affection for your screaming little brother every second of every day. You have to make a choice. You have to choose to put aside your own grumpiness and dislike and care for and nurture the little toddler.

Just like you're not always going to like your siblings, you're not always going to like your book. It's tricky though, because sometimes you will like your book. And when you like your book and want to work with it, it's so easy to hold on and love and nurture and work on it.

And it's so easy to think something wrong has happened when you start dislike your story. If you base your devotion and dedications on how you feel, then it only makes sense for that devotion to fade as soon as the desire does.

If you've decided that it's worth it, you have to choose. Choose to hold onto your story. Choose to stick with it and love it.


Are you wrestling with whether to keep your story or not? How do you decide to stay with a project? 

<3

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6 comments

  1. This post... Hannah, how do you always write such inspiring posts? It's awesome <3 Thank you.

    I've been sticking with the same trilogy for coming on three years now. Only recently I asked myself if it was really worth it. I would have to change everything to get it where I wanted it. I was ready to throw it out the window, but something was there, tugging me back in. And even when I hate my story, that thing is still holding on, telling me that I have to finish it. This post reminded me of that decision I made, and make every time I work on it.

    <3

    audrey caylin

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    Replies
    1. Ahhh yesyesyes <3 I'm so glad! Three years is a long time. Keep going!

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  2. hi i needed this. thank you darling.

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    1. <3 Hold onto your stories (especially COTN) mother. They are beautiful <3

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  3. Thank you for this!!! I've actually put away the novel I've worked on for about a year (the first draft took forever)... For now, that is. I'm going to work on a new project this April and might come back to that novel again.

    Micaiah
    www.notebooksandnovels.com

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    Replies
    1. I hope you do! Taking a break from projects is very healthy. Don't abandon it! <3

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