You’ve been staring at the same sentence for months, your mind immediately wanders when you break out your laptop, and you’ve pretty much given up on ever completing your once great idea for a book. Sound familiar?
Before you sentence your manuscript to the graveyard of abandoned manuscripts, we challenge you to consider the following reasons you might be stuck, and then we challenge you to try again.
1. You’re married to a train of thought, theme, or character(s) that needs to evolve or be dropped
Sometimes, as writers we force a manuscript to remain true to the first or earliest idea we had, not realizing it was meant as the starting point, not the final and single course of the entire work. Are you forcing the wrong character to be the narrator of your story? Are you trying to make your manuscript fit into the confines of a title you like or an idea that’s too specific? Try skipping to a different point in your manuscript and starting fresh without a blueprint in your mind. Tell yourself that it’s just an exercise. See what you come up with. Adjust your manuscript’s outline, even if only slightly.
2. You noticed the release of a similar book
You thought you had this brilliant idea and lo and behold you see it on the shelf at your local bookstore. Now you’re discouraged and can’t face the music of seeing your own manuscript to the finish line. It happens every day in the writing world.Don’t abandon your manuscript just because a similar idea exists. Instead use it as an opportunity to collect research on how your book can be even more unique. Clearly your idea is marketable, so by investigating the competing titles you can identify creative ways to position it differently.
3. You’re avoiding doing the necessary research to round out and add more substance to your book
Your manuscript is pretty much done, except for critical last steps like citing your sources, adding statistics, fact checking, or perhaps adding details that require research. You can’t get beyond the massive assignment ahead of you so you’ve opted to procrastinate instead of forging ahead. Here’s an idea: organize a list of what topics need researching and tackle a topic a week. Also, use a site like www.questia.com for research and www.bibme.org to help you quickly and easily find your sources and format them properly.
4. You’ve lost interest in the topic
This is the most common reason writers leave manuscripts in the dust. Of course some manuscripts should be tucked away and never brought out again. But some can–and should–be saved. Taking a break is sometimes needed to add a fresh perspective.If you have a manuscript that you’ve lost interest in for any number of reasons and want to revisit it, try letting someone else read it–a trusted friend or a writer’s group buddy. A nudge from someone you trust is often the medicine needed to get the creative juices recirculating.
Did we leave any reasons off the list? Why have you abandoned a manuscript?