Same old, same old
First, sorry, I keep forgetting when Monday is *g*. So we’re talking about what it means if you’ve been working on the same project for years. It’s happened to a lot of us, but is it worth it?
Um, in two words, Hell no. After about 6 months you’ve polished it so often the finish has rubbed off. Not only are you too close to the material to really see/fix any problems, but as time marches on, you’ve lost that freshness and enthusiasm. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who tell me they’ve been working on something for 12 months or more. Now yes, there are lightning strikes and sometimes those manuscripts sell, but most of those are manuscripts finished at one point and shopped for months or years.
So what’s the solution? If you’re at the 6-month mark or if you’ve done three drafts, time to move on. Time to get excited about your next project. Tuck that old project in a drawer – or a flash drive – and take the lessons learned and move forward. You can learn volumes about a project. Honing skills necessary to improve your craft is always good, so don’t look at a long-running work as a failure. Hopefully the most important thing you’ve learned is how to take a book from beginning to middle to end.
Conversely, if you’re a 3-chapter Sally, time to rethink your process. If you’ve spent 6 months or more ‘polishing’ your first 3 chapters, time to bone-up on plotting and pacing. I should know, I was a 3-chapter Sally for years. I’d write the first three chapters, then have no clue where to go next, so I’d write 3 more chapters of a new project, then have no idea where I was going, and so on and so on. In all those cases I knew the ending, I just didn’t know how to get through the middle of a book. My saving grace was learning to organize my manuscript. The first manuscript I wrote using organizational techniques I sold. And I did it in one shot. No drafts, no polishing, just made myself do it right the first time.
So take stock and be honest. Especially to yourself.