Finished Before the Finish Line: Giving up on a WIP

By Julian Fernandes


I’ve seen a lot of indie authors grumble about abandoning their Work In Progress, even if it’s almost done! Something sets us off as we’re writing and sometimes, we feel like the story being written is no longer worth writing. Abandoning your WIP can be a mistake. Sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective and an outlook of opportunity.

One of the fatal flaws of being an author is looking at your own work with too critical an eye, especially in the first draft stage. We don’t give our creativity the credit it deserves and sometimes we don’t give the story we’re writing the opportunity to evolve into something special. Most authors have heard the story about Stephen King and his Carrie manuscript; he thought it was crap and at one point tossed it in the trash. His wife pulled it out and told him to keep going, eventually it became the classic it is today. This story is a great example of our eagerness as writers to abandon a story that has potential.

The 1st draft is always the skeleton of a story not yet fulfilled. Keep in mind that it’s a process and when it comes time to go through the first draft, everything is up for debate or change. The tale being written is your story, don’t feel boxed into one path, see the editing process as an opportunity to explore new potential within something already written. ‘What if?’ should be the theme of the first rewrite. Find a new take within your old idea. Rewrites and bulk edits should be a second honeymoon of creativity with your story. Give yourself license to change things big and small.

The writing process can be long and full of opportunity. Don’t be fooled into thinking the first draft is what will be a final product. You have self-edits, multiple editors, rewrites, more editing, beta readers, more editing, pre-release readers, proofreaders, more editing, a last check before publishing. Each one of these steps can provide something special to come from what was not fully realized yet in the first draft.

The story at the start may not be the story it will become, it’s only the base of what eventually will be a book. Don’t give up on an idea you think is truly unique, even if it takes time to make it so.

Tip: Read your work as someone else, act as if a friend asked for some help with a project, they need fresh ideas from you, they came to you because you are very creative. Roleplay reading can be helpful if you can separate yourself from your work.


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