Writing 101: Letting Go

Sometimes when I'm writing, I'll fall into an alternate reality where I know just what to say. There are times when I know I'm not even telling the story; the story is letting me tell it. But those stories always end up being the very hardest to shake. Are you having trouble with letting go of a book that you already finished?

Easy Come...

Some books speak really strongly to authors..and don't stop speaking. You'll continue thinking about the characters, even after you're supposed to be working on another project. And no matter how hard you try, you just can't devote yourself to that new project. How can you? The old one is still captivating all your attention. 

Letting go is one of the hardest parts of being an author, and this will manifest itself in a variety of ways. I'm pretty sure I've experienced all of them.

  • Too long is too long: When you're having trouble letting go of a book, you may find yourself unable to get to the ending. You know how the book ends, of course...but you just can't get there. This is an indication that you aren't moving the plot forward efficiently enough.
  • Sequels: After I finished The Book That Shall Not Be Named, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I may have mentioned before that I couldn't even write anything else for two years. I found myself writing a sequel because I couldn't write anything else, though I had never planned to do this and the first story was totally complete. 
  • Blocked: When you're stuck on a book, you'll find it very difficult (if not impossible) to write a new book. As an author, you shouldn't let yourself get stuck on any project like this. Even if you're writing a lengthy book series, you should take a break from those characters and that setting every so often. Write a short story. Write a different book. Write something else, just to remind yourself that you can.

Letting go of characters and a setting you love isn't easy. But it's part of the job of being an author. Each project finishes, and another takes its place. Authors always have to objective about their books, and must avoid falling in love with any project. Fall in love with your work, and you'll find yourself getting hurt in a variety of ways...not the least of which is all the bad stuff mentioned above. So let go. Move on. Break up with that book, and find yourself a new sweetheart. 

I know you can do it.

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