Maybe you’re two-thirds of the way through your novel… and you hate it. Or you’re almost finished with the rough draft, but it feels like everyone else wrote a better story than yours. You wish you could just write a different story, but at this point, you feel you’ve come too far to start over. And if you decide to start over, you have no idea how to make it work this time around.
It’s hard to finish a story that you don’t like. If you don’t enjoy writing your novel, you probably won’t stick with it for very long.
So how do you deal with this? How do you start to love your own story and appreciate what you’ve worked so hard on, even if you think it’s a flaming pile of garbage?
Here are a few tips I’ve learned that help me enjoy my own writing without trashing it and starting over.
Write the book you want to read.
Make a list of things you like in a story, and try to add as many of those things in your novel as possible. For example, right now, I really like books with lots of interesting descriptions and a smart/powerful villain.
You’ll be surprised how much our writing can drift away from what we actually like. Even though I like descriptive books with lots of great imagery, sometimes I look up and I’ve written two chapters full of dialogue. Or I forget that I like powerful villains, and my villain spends four chapters just sitting there. It happens.
If you can’t stand your novel right now, maybe you just need to add more elements that you want to read.
Keep yourself inspired.
Sometimes, I tend to put all my energy into writing without taking the time to read, watch movies, and refill my imagination. Then I get upset and bored with my story because I don’t have enough new ideas while I’m working.
Of course, we don’t want to steal the entire plot from our favorite movie and put all of it in our novel. That’s called plagiarism. However, we can get our own ideas and inspiration from other books, movies, YouTube videos, TV shows… the list goes on and on.
If you don’t like your novel anymore, try taking a little break and gathering new ideas for your imagination. When you come back to your novel, hopefully you’ll have a fresh perspective on how to move forward with it.
Allow yourself to be flexible within your outline.
Your outline is made to serve you. You are not made to serve your outline.
Of course, the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum is designed to teach you how to create an effective outline for your novel, so if you’re using this program to write your novel, you shouldn’t just throw out the rules. Plan what needs to happen by the end of each chapter, follow the format, but allow your story to be flexible.
If you feel like your novel’s not developed enough, let the characters be goofballs for a bit. Give them a moment to relax before you move on to the next thing.
If your novel is too slow and you wish it was faster, cut out a chapter. Yes. One whole chapter. Make them move forward in their adventure. Now. Don’t let them procrastinate and wish-wash about it. Make. Them. Move.
All that to say, the outline is part of your story, and just like any other part of your story, you are always free to change it if you want to.
Do some side work.
Are you stuck on a specific aspect of your novel, like characters or plot? Write some drabbles where your characters live their daily lives and go on short little adventures together. Create recipes for their favorite meals. Draw some fan art of your characters.
If you’re stuck on plot problems, you can work on that, too. Create timelines and maps of what’s happened in your story so far. Write an essay about something in your story world, complete with citations. Draw your next chapter as a comic.
Best case scenario, you’ll be able to use these things in your novel. And if nothing else, it’s a fun way to learn more about your characters.
Focus on the writing experience.
If you are desperately stuck on your story, sometimes you need to stop focusing on the story and focus on the act of writing.
It’s a weird phenomenon, but I’ve noticed that when I’m completely fed up with a story, I just need to change how and where I write. I need to make myself feel like a “real writer.”
Write with a quill pen, or with a crayon, or on your phone. Use Comic Sans in a very very large font, or one of those fancy handwriting fonts so small you can’t even read it. Sip on a hot beverage while you write.
What makes you feel like a writer? Let yourself feel like a writer, because you are one! Sometimes, that’s all it takes to do the trick.
It’s very common to feel frustrated with your story. It doesn’t make you any less of a writer. But with the right tools, you can learn to enjoy your novel again.
I hope these tips can help you reignite your passion for your novel and enjoy the writing process to the fullest. Now go forth and write the story that brings you joy!
Have you been able to rekindle love you have for a story that’s frustrating you? How did you do it?
Lauryn Trimmer spent the vast majority of her teen years logged on to the One Year Adventure Novel forum. Now that she’s in her twenties, she spends most of her time staring at a blank word document instead of writing. When she’s not pretending to write, Lauryn enjoys reading, blogging, and browsing the local bookstore. You can find more of her writing advice on her blog, ProStoryBuilders.com.
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