Dear writer friends,

I need your advice.

Please be honest.

But can you also be encouraging?

I’m frustrated. And I’m confused about what I should do.

I want to write a novel. I want to care about it and love it and be proud of it.

I don’t want to be frustrated or bored with it.

And I really don’t want to be thinking about something else when I’m trying to write it.

My problem is – I started working on a novel last year and now have a totally different idea in my mind that I’ve started to put down onto the page. And I’m so excited about the story, the characters, and the scenes I have imagined. The project I started before has been sitting stagnant for months. I really do mean months.

So, writer friends, is it okay for me to abandon a project before it is even near finished? I was excited about it, and still think it is a worthy piece of fiction, but I’m not excited at all anymore. Is it good practice to set it aside for something else?

Or should I work my tail off to finish novel one and then go on to novel two? Even though all I can think about it novel two….

I look forward to any advice you can give.

Most Affectionately (and distractedly),

Trisha Jenn

  1. My dearest Trisha:

    Setting novel one aside because you are suddenly inspired by novel two is not a crime.
    Perhaps N1 needs to percolate a bit. Or perhaps N2 is the one that will take off and you’ll finish. Who knows? Don’t give up on either of them, and never attempt to put rules and regulations on Art. Nothing ever gets created that way.

    Also, another thought is that N1 just needs some stirring up. When in doubt, have two men come through the door with guns. Even if you cut it out later, just do something to move the plot along.

    But if you’re feeling N2 at the moment, don’t stifle the inspiration. Writing is writing. No matter what.

    • Thanks Wren! I appreciate the reminder that what we do is ART – sometimes I get bogged down in wanting to “be a writer” that I forget to actually write.

  2. Go where your passion leads you, Trisha! Book one may grow on you while lying fallow. Or, while you’re gathering the life experience and research serendipity that will bring it to life later. I sometimes have several projects on the go so that I can “procrastinate” profitably from one while working on another.

  3. Trisha,
    Write about what excites you, even if it changes part-way through. But don’t abandon project #1 – just set it aside for now. If it’s a novel worth writing, you’ll eventually return to it.
    When you’re first writing (or even “first writing five years later” as I am), it’s not nearly as important to “finish” what you’ve started as it is to just keep on writing. Whether blog posts, journal entries, a chapter, an entire novel, or bits and pieces of more than one book – just write. Practice your craft regularly.
    I started a non-fiction book several years ago. Went to a big writer’s conference two summers in a row to pitch it. Had great feedback (although no “yes”es). And now it’s been set aside for over a year. Not abandoned, but waiting for the season when it beckons to be written.

    • “Waiting for the season when it beckons to be written” – what a beautiful phrase.
      Thank you, Tyler. I am realizing more and more that I need to and want to just write,and then I go and set expectations for myself. I want to finish projects and not just start a whole collection of them. I have drawers of ideas and starts. Perhaps that isn’t a bad thing. 🙂 But like Renae said, perhaps this is the project that will get finished.

  4. I’ll be repeating what others have already said, but I agree: Don’t abandon project #1. Stories come to us for a reason. Sometimes they’re easy to write, sometimes we have to let them come to us. I read this quote yesterday and loved it:

    I was struggling to finish my first novel when an entirely different story came to me, and I was able to envision the entire plot. I kept with project #1 because I was in the midst of it, but I immediately wrote down all my thoughts for the second story so that I could come back to it later. It’s such a struggle being torn back and forth between two stories! However, look at it this way: You have two great novels in you, just waiting to come into existence. That’s a win-win. 🙂

    • Todd, I’ve tried with writing all my thoughts down… the problem is I write entire scenes in my head while I walk and then need to come home and write them right away… if I don’t, they end up disappearing. I’m struggling with that right now. I was stuck on project 1 and envisioning scenes for project two but wouldn’t let myself write more than a synopsis of them. Now I’m trying to rediscover what I had come up with in my head.

      Thank you for sharing your experience friend. And I can’t wait to get a copy of Eastbound Sailing ( ! 🙂

  5. Hey Trisha. I feel I need to stress the importance of finishing a project. If you’re genuinely serious about writing, you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t have a finished product. I have so much trouble finishing (I have dozens of unfinished projects–novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, etc.). I have new ideas blowing up inside my head all the time, which try to tempt me away from my main project, so I really had to learn some discipline in order to finish my Masters thesis (which is a novel, by the way). I dealt with it by creating a file on my computer where all my new ideas go. It has become quite a substantial document. I sometimes go back through it and flesh out some of those ideas and play with them for a bit. But then I always force myself to do some writing on my main project (the thesis in my case). It’s not always fun, but if you want to be a writer, rather than someone who writes for fun, then it can’t always be fun. Sometimes it’s work and it’s hard and it’s boring. But the result is always worth it. I finished a full draft of my thesis not too long ago and it feels wonderful. I’m just in the final stages of editing right now, which has been a surprisingly fun part of the process. However, you can’t truly get into editing until you’ve finished a draft. That being said, if you really have come to a roadblock, then step back, take a short time off, write something else, and when you come back to it hopefully you’ll have a new perspective which will inspire you. But don’t allow that break to go too long! Just long enough to clear your head, and then get back into it. Good luck!

    Rob (Chelsey’s husband)

    • Rob! Thank you. I appreciate the advice, and I appreciate that you are reading my blog. Congrats on finishing a draft of your thesis!! That’s amazing.

      And yes… I have a very large file full of ideas.

  6. Hi, Trisha, I’ll agree with many posters here who say the important thing is to write. I maintain my enthusiasm for my novel by working on several projects simultaneously. When I’m in a slump with the novel, I sometimes find myself cranking out short stories like there’s no tomorrow. Then I’ll go back to the novel a month later, refreshed. Good luck and keep writing.

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