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I started this story about a year ago just for the fun of it. I never planned anything out because it was a just for fun thing. Now when I look at it, I'm not satisfied with it. I don't think it's any good. I've tried fixing it by tying up some plot holes, but it's just not working. I'm thinking of scrapping this project entirely and starting over and taking the time to plan out the story.
I've been thinking about starting over for a long time.
Should I just grin and bear it and keep going until it's done? Or should I start over?
- Fresh Start
In college one of my professors claimed that it was a moral imperative to finish every project one starts. Yet another educator at this institution professed that the minute one feels as though their project is wasting their time, one should trash it and begin working on something else. I tend to fall in the latter category. However, to prevent falling into production lulls, I outline everything before I begin. This is not a process that works for all writers, in fact, many I know refuse to know the end of their books until they write them, but for me, outlining allows me to frame a solid story before putting the narrative to page.
So, my advice? Start again. Layout the plot. Know where you're going. Fill those plot holes before you get to them. The more laid out you make you road, the smoother the drive.
Dear Fresh Start,
If this is meant to be a fun project, it doesn't sound like you're having very much fun any more. Depending on your priorities, the "grin and bear it" approach has it's place. We've all had to crank something out at one time or another, for the sake of deadlines and consistent updates, but I'm not getting the feeling that is what this particular project is about for you.
If you don't have immediate plans for this story, then I say go for it. Re-slug the whole thing out and noodle away to your heart's content. As Hemmingway said, "Writing is rewriting". Having something creative that you just do for you, for the sake of the craft, and that you're happy with, can really help keep you inspired, thinking on your feet and reminds you of why we all started doing this in the first place; writing is fun. (Between us, it also makes getting through those "grin and bear it" projects a lot easier.) But, do hang on to what you've got so far. You never know when you'll want to go back a step or two or just have the reference handy.
Best of luck with it,
Beware the re-work cycle! As artists and writers, we will ALWAYS look back on old work and cringe. If we're doing things right, that is! It means that we're improving. However, a lot of people sabotage forward momentum by continually re-starting the same project over and over again. Instead of learning new skills and exploring new themes, creators circle the same idea without ever challenging themselves to do something new - they force themselves into an eternal rut!
That doesn't mean that there is a hard "don't ever look back" rule, but make the decision to start over with care. Ask yourself exactly why you want to go back. If it's because you want the art to be better, or to tweak the writing, then you're probably caught by a re-work cycle. Ask yourself: What about the story excites you? What character arcs do you want to develop? What themes are you hoping to explore? Can you delve into those things from where you are now, or is the beginning so flawed that it's not a good foundation to build on? If you look at where you want to go, and find the goal is not supported by your current work, then scrapping what you have may be the best option.
Also consider your own personal challenges and tendencies. Are you the kind of creator that loves to start things, but never follows through? Then it may be time to push yourself, commit, and see this project to the end. Or are you the kind of creator that stubbornly sticks to a project no matter what, even if you're burning yourself out? If so, perhaps it's time to learn to let go and move on. Consider what you need to learn as a creator, and use your story to help you get there!
You don't have to marry your first project, but if you're going to leave it, make sure it's for the right reasons!
In my personal experience, if something isn't working for you then there's no reason to keep beating your head against the wall to try to get it done. I'm all for sticking it out on a project, but if the project is the equivalent of pulling teeth, then it's time to move on. I had to do this with a novel I'm working on, and though it was hard at first, starting over on it has allowed me to grow and make it in to something even better than what it would have been originally. Before you fully commit to pulling the plug, I would talk with someone that you trust for brainstorming and plot doctoring and see if you can come up with a way to fix the story to something that you like. If there's nothing though for you to get excited about, best to scrap it as a learning experience and start again!