Sticking it Out: When to Keep Working on Your WIP

Greetings, readers and writers!

Last week I published an article that deals with the sticky question of when to give up on your work-in-progress. This is something that I’ve been wrestling with myself lately, and I’ve personally decided to move on from my WIP (for now, anyway!).

While I outlined the tricky times when it’s a good idea to give up on your WIP, there are many instances where, as a writer, you’ll deal with some challenging times that don’t necessitate giving up on your project. In fact, I think the majority of cases are cases where you should keep working and not give up entirely.

At the end of the day, though, it’s up to you to decide whether to continue or not. 

You’re the author, and you’re in control of the story. If you want to keep writing, I think you can make it happen. If you want to be done, you have the power to make that choice too. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons and decide whether your manuscript is worth your precious time.

That being said, last week I listed some indicators that might help you decide whether it’s time to move on from your project. Today, here are four instances when your project is likely worth sticking it out:

1. You’re having time management issues

We’ve all been in times and situations where life is simply too busy to allow you to devote as much energy as you’d wish to your book. While this lack of time can be wearying, it doesn’t mean your idea is bad or that your book isn’t worth pursuing.

While I do believe that writing frequently is important for your overall writing success, there may come weeks or months where life gets in the way, and that’s okay. But I don’t think struggling to carve out time is enough of a reason to give up on your writing dream altogether. There are several good books and resources that can help you find a writing schedule that works for you, and your quota doesn’t have to be overly ambitious: even ten minutes a day is a good habit.

You don’t have to give up because you’re too busy right now.

2. You’re bored of your book

Have you felt in a bit of a slump with your WIP lately? Not sure where to take it next? Feeling that dreadful “writer’s block?” Congratulations: you’re normal!

There is no such thing as a writer who feels constant excitement and bliss over their work. It doesn’t happen. When writing a novel is your lifelong dream, it can feel discouraging when your enthusiasm for your idea cools and your dream starts to feel like a whole lot of work.

There’s a fine line between momentary boredom and a complete lack of passion, which I gave last week as a reason to drop your novel. Boredom usually stems from poor plotting, outlining, or a lack of inspiration. It’s a feeling that lets you know that something is wrong with your novel, but it’s a temporary feeling that can be worked through.

Lack of passion, on the other hand, is a long-lasting (think months or years) distaste for anything to do with your book. You’re not worried about where to go next. You’re not worried about lack of inspiration. You’re not feeling anything at all. It’s horrible, but it’s also relatively rare.

I think every writer feels bored of their book from time to time. For me, it usually occurs after writing the inciting incident and braving the dense middle of the story. At this point, the “fun” of worldbuilding, character sketching, and describing your fabulous settings is fading as getting through the meat of your story takes the spotlight.

When I grow bored, I find that going back to the things that made me excited about my book in the first place helps: whether that’s doing further character development, finding pictures or music that evoke inspiration for my book, or even writing a scene from a character’s past that I have no intention of including can be helpful.

And, of course, the best way to get through a bored, directionless feeling is to hash out your plot and get a firm idea of where you are headed and why.

3. You hate writing

This may come as a surprise, but you don’t have to love writing to be a writer. In fact, a lot of writers have even admitted to hating writing!

A love of drafting and editing can certainly be helpful in your writing journey, but it’s not as essential as it would seem. Personally, I love writing, but there are many in my field who don’t. Some write for the money. Some write because they are good at it, even if they don’t love it. Still others are fabulous storytellers: people full of ideas who see writing as the means to the end of getting their stories out, even if they don’t particularly enjoy the process.

So if you feel like you have a fabulous idea but you hate writing that idea down, you’re not alone. In fact, you have great company in the writing community and can craft a fabulous work!

While there may not be a way to force yourself to love the act of writing, staying focused on your end goal and soaking in the joy of having written can help. So can having a friend that reads your work and is eagerly awaiting the next installment or chapter.

The bottom line? Don’t feel like you have to love every aspect of writing to keep working on your story.

4. Your book is a great fit for you

Some things just work, and sometimes you just know you’ve found the right project.

One of the reasons I gave for stopping work on my WIP was that it was outside of my typical interests and in a genre I don’t particularly care for. On the flipside, you might find yourself working on a manuscript that is the right fit for you: it’s in a genre you love, it’s a story you’re enthralled with, and you could easily see it as part of your long-term writing career. You can’t get your book out of your head. It just wants to be written.

If you love your characters, your story, and want to see your book succeed, then you are on the right track. You have a story that is speaking to you, and while it can be hard work at times, it’s something that you know matters, something that’s worth it.

If you’ve found the right project, don’t give up. If it’s something you love and believe in, fight for that.

What are some things you’ve found helpful when the writing gets tough? When have you stuck it out when you wanted to quit?

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