I’ve started my manuscript over. I almost made it to the halfway point, and realized that despite having planned and plotted and researched beforehand, it was still missing something. Something I couldn’t have plotted out beforehand. It was missing my interest. I’d lost the thread of excitement that had made me want to write the story in the first place.
That isn’t to say I’m not still excited about the story. Oh, I am. Very much so. I will finish this one. But the way I was going about it wasn’t working. The voice was off, the location felt limiting, and I’d forgotten to explore side stories and side characters and weave them into the main story as well.
I started noticing that things weren’t going the way I wanted them to much earlier on, I think probably around the one quarter mark. Possibly even earlier than that. But stubbornly, I pressed on. Because it was a first draft, and everything in a first draft can be fixed, right? Right. That’s true. But I’m also of the mind that a first draft should be fun to write. And I wasn’t having fun, especially knowing that I was going to end up changing most of it anyway.
So finally, I took a step back and reminded myself that it’s okay to start over. Just as long as I don’t start over again, and again, and again, and never actually progress. With every manuscript I’ve written (that’s only two, by the way, not counting this one, but still) I’ve done this very same thing. I’ve made it to just before the halfway mark and realized that what I was doing wasn’t working. And you know what? I think I just need to accept that’s the way I work. I need to find out what doesn’t work before I can find out what does. And that’s okay.
I’m telling you all this because I know I’m not the only one that gets stuck in a rut part way through a first draft. If you also find yourself in this situation, take a break and think about why that might be. And if you find that the answer is to start over (it isn’t always), don’t beat yourself up about it. Better now than later. Better to get back to a place where you’re excited about your story again than to slog all the way to the end, bored out of your mind because writing is rewriting is rewriting. Yes it is that, but you don’t have to wait to start that process if you already know what you need to fix—if you know that fixing those problems at the beginning will lead you down a more interesting writing journey once you do get back to where you left off.
Go for it.