Disclaimer: I am beginning the road to publishing my current novel after obtaining my degree, taking numerous writing classes and seminars, joining SCBWI, and writing several manuscripts that probably will not see the bookshelves. And every single second of this was worth it thus far. But my journey isn’t your journey, and my journey may not even make me half the writer that you, dear reader, might be.
So, in light of that tableau, this question is incredibly subjective.
Should I give up on my manuscript? A short answer is no. A long answer is maybe. A tough answer is yes.
There are several hard questions you need to ask yourself first, before you even can ask yourself that fated question. The first question you should ask yourself is this:
“Why are you writing this manuscript?”
Writing is personal, and incredible, yet often painful and tedious. In no way is writing a book an easy adventure. So, why are you doing it? Why are you bearing your soul in this way? Is it because you simply wanted to try something new? Is it because you have a story you think the world needs to hear? Is it because you can’t find any other adequate way to express what you feel and what you value?
The truth is, writing a book is something that might consume you for quite a while. And if your heart isn’t totally dedicated to your piece, you may create something that won’t be worthwhile. If you are going through the motions of typing a page, laying out a scene, creating a dialogue, but there is no passion filled into the blanks between the letters, then why spend so much energy? If there is another work that would fill your pages with the flowering burst of passion that a book needs, then perhaps you should but this current manuscript on the shelf for a while, revisit when you have found what your heart wants to create.
On the other hand, if you answered that you believe you have a story that the world needs to hear, or if this is your incredible way of expressing something personal, then keep writing, even if it becomes difficult, even when the lights dim and the sun sets. Don’t quit on something that drives you. Even if this manuscript sits on your computer for a while after its completion, it is one more paving stone laid out on your road to success.
Does your manuscript have purpose? Does it have direction?
No matter how passionate your piece is, you should have a clear goal in mind when writing it. Is it a novel? If so, what messages do you want to convey in this book, what do you want to portray, and how can you effectively do so?
The tricky thing is, sometimes you will write a book, and then discover you have nowhere to go with it as you continue writing. This has happened to me. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed with an idea that I think to myself, “Hey, what a cool idea for a book!“
And then I write and write and skip meals and guzzle a wickedly unhealthy amount of coffee, and then realize I have absolutely no idea where this story is going.
That’s okay. This concept may come with time, and this may take a few failed attempts at a story line. What’s important with this is persevering, but not to the extent of you burning yourself out. If you have tried and tried to come up with a plot worth reading about, and just can’t seem to connect the dots, that’s okay. But it might just mean you shelf this manuscript for a bit, come back to it, and get ready for some serious revisions when you do.
Now, if you answered yes, that you check all the boxes so far, then definitely don’t give up. No one said writing was a clear path, and no one said you would write a first draft, get an agent, get a publisher, and be on your merry way. Nope. If you know anyone like that, please, send them my way because I could use a few pointers myself…
Are you pursuing this manuscript at the expense of your next, better, manuscript?
There’s a couple different ways we can look at this question.
For starters, if you have been writing your book for two years, and just can’t seem to find the finish line, or can’t find a way to be happy about what you have created, and have revised it more times that you can even count (personally victimizing myself here…), then ask yourself if there is another book you should start instead.
If you spend all of your time hung up on a single manuscript when there are literally hundreds of blank pages just waiting for you to fill them up with incredible imaginings, you may want to shake yourself a little bit. You are not a one-book wonder. If you wrote one book, you can write another. And another.
You can also look at this question through a publishing viewpoint.
One of the most important things when seeking publication is to not obsess over one project at the expense of your next creating. If you are one of the lucky ones, and find an agent, that will be huge, but even that can take months, or, sadly, years. So the best way to cope with the process is to simply move on to your next project, and not refresh your email every five minutes for the next two months (again, victimizing myself here).
Because the sad truth is, many authors do not get published on their first try. Or second. It can take years of failed manuscripts in order to hone a craft. And even if this current manuscript is perfect in your eyes, and your friends enjoy it thoroughly, it may just not be any agent’s cup of tea. So just keep moving on to your next project, certainly don’t give up on this one after a few rejections, but don’t let it swallow your entire career.
Like I said, we will all have a different path towards writing, but remember, persevere in your writing career, write until your hand is more callus than hand, but don’t for one second think that this book is your only book. You will have another and another. If you believe that you need to give up on your manuscript, that’s entirely your prerogative.
But maybe don’t look at it as giving up. It is just a few more pages in your vault as a writer, and a few more pages closer to holding your own hard-bound book in your hands one day.