With each December I'm greeted by the familiar feeling of having failed NanoWrimo.
For those who don't know, NanoWrimo is National Novel Writing Month, a challenge were writers strive to complete a 50 k novel over the course of November. There is struggle, celebration and tears, and that’s for those who are successful.
For the rest of us we are left with an interesting problem, this new manuscript, which we got however far into... why has it failed? Did we simply run out of time during the month, life does have a nasty habit of getting in the way? Or did the lustre of a brand new story simply fade away once we looked too closely at the tangled web of plot threads we were trying to weave together?
Simply put, do we try and push on with this new project, or leave it on the shelf to try again fresh?
This isn’t an easy question to answer, after all even a good manuscript that will one day be polished and published might simply be the wrong one for this time. You aren’t the author you need to be to tell this story, and having it sit on the bench while you polish your skills on another can end up being for the best.
During November I began an idea that had been rattling around in my head for a while. A collection of three short stories, all taking place over the same year in an isolated all-girls school; as the paranormal turns it into a horror story. It was not only a new genre for me, but a brand new format, tense and perspective.
Third person past tense omniscient has always been my go to, with my genre being Sci-fi or Fantasy.
This project was first person, present tense, each from a single POV… and it was Horror.
I was sailing in unfamiliar waters.
However now I’ve got 26 thousand words written and am lacking any desire to keep pushing forward with it right now. I haven’t given up on the story, characters or setting. There’s still enough there that I want to polish up but I think I need a bit of a pallet cleanser.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from a project, throwing things up against the wall and seeing what sticks while you take the time to think through the projects you really think are worth it.
For any writers out there suffering this same dilemma, take a break and step back. If a story refuses to leave your head than that’s one that needs to be finished, even if it’s started to feel like a bit of a slog to get through. And if you can step away easily, and you don’t return to it? Than perhaps that is an idea better left forgotten, No shame in trying an idea out to see.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.