When Do You Let Go of a Piece of Writing?


by Ane Mulligan @AneMulligan

Stalled. Going nowhere. Can’t think of a way out. Nothing works. 

It happens to nearly every writer at some point. It’s happened to me before, but for a different reason. All I needed then was a brainstorming session with a crit partner, a little plotting, and I was off again, racing to the end. 

But this time it’s different. I’ve tossed parts of it before. I’ve edited, rewritten and brainstormed. None of it helped. And my story conked out at 33,506 words. One third of a novel. I had to push it to the side of the road. 

So, I’m pitching it but not to a publisher. I’m pitching this into the trash.

Why, you ask?

Because those 33K words aren’t my brand. 

Oh, they’re well-written. They’re strong writing – some of my best. But they’re not my brand. 

I can write in a different genre and readers will accept it ... as long as I write to my brand, which is Southern-fried fiction. My readers expect a little humor – or a lot – a Southern setting, and an ensemble cast of strong women, who are friends traversing life’s journey together. As long as I write to my brand, I can set the story in any era. I can add suspense. Romance. Political intrigue. Time slip. Any of that, my readers will accept.

But this book, my WIP, is dark. And I can’t seem to change that in its present form. Goodness knows I’ve tried. I’ve gone over it and over it, reading, editing, adding, subtracting, but the stubborn thing remains dark. 

I know what I need to do, and it isn’t another edit. So I’m biting the bullet and tossing it out. All 33,506 words. And then I will start over. As soon as I made the decision, the fog covering my brain lifted. I’m excited about this novel again! 

Much of it will change. I’ll use the same characters, but we’ve had a meeting of minds. I expect certain things, and so far, they seem to agree with me. I can see their attitudes changing. I can feel my brand seeping through. I’m ready to write.

Sometimes, we have to know when to let go. Have you ever had to let go of a WIP? Why did you need to? Plot? Brand? Something else?

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Letting go when a piece of writing just isn't right - thoughts from @AneMulligan on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She's an award-winningbestselling novelist, a multi-published playwright and contributor to the award-winning blog, The Write Conversation. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler who thinks he’s a teddy bear. You can find Ane at her website,Novel RocketFacebookTwitterPinterestand The Write Conversation.

When Do You Let Go of a Piece of Writing?