Finishing a book

So last week I finished writing a book. And I haven’t yet started writing a new one. At least, not on paper (okay, on screen) anyway. I have, however, been writing quite a few in my head.

A weird thing happens when you write a book (and I know this isn’t just me because I’ve read other authors say the same – of course, I can’t find the posts to show you*) and that is that, about halfway through, you decide the book you’re writing is absolute rubbish. Coincidentally, at around the same time, you come to the realisation that the idea you’ve had for a new, entirely different, book is MUCH better. That one wouldn’t give me so much trouble, you think. That one would be EASY to write. I should just scrap this one and write that one. But no. You shouldn’t. Or I shouldn’t. Because if you do do that, the same thing will happen with that book too. And then what you’ll have is a bunch of unfinished, dulled books and no lovely, finished, shiny ones.

That’s exactly what I did for probably the first ten years of writing. (I paused as a typed that because it can’t have really be ten years, can it? Why yes, yes it can. Gah.) And so I do have a bunch of half-written books that I’m not sure what to do with now. I would probably feel relieved/free if I just deleted them, but part of me wants to finish them just to prove I can.

But that wasn’t the point of this post. The point I wanted to make was that, when you finish a book, you then have to decide what to write next. And that is pretty much the best fun ever.

* I found some:

Meg Cabot’s NaNoWriMo pep talk

Ask MJ: Writing is like cootie (scroll down to Badhandwroter‘s question)

Julie Cohen: Suckage point

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16 thoughts on “Finishing a book

  1. That is so refreshing to read! Yet again, I had started ANOTHER story/novel & yet when I read what I have so far written back…it makes me think I’ve wasted my time & it’s useless waffle.

    I’m only around 7,000 words in but you know….I need to stick with this one. In need to be stricter!

  2. Absolutely with you on the whole ‘halfway through new book idea’ thing. That’s the worst thing when you’re trying to maintain your enthusiasm for the book you’re actually writing. Been there, done that, got the box of half-finished ideas to prove it!

    But the best bit by far is when you’re free to start dreaming about your next book. I’m there now and I’m loving the freedom of being able to let my mind wander around new ideas – without anyone else knowing what I’m dreaming up. Enjoy it! xx

  3. That’s definitely my favourite bit about writing – coming up with the idea for a new book. Writing it is the hard bit (especially doing justice to the idea). And editing…well, let’s not even go there!

  4. I hate the mid-way sag too… it’s proper evil, isn’t it? And like you say, the thought of a new one is so exciting, until you get to THAT halfway mark too. I did read somewhere that one way to overcome the mid-way slump is to throw in something completely unwarranted/unnecessary and mad. Like kill someone off, turn someone gay, let the aliens land… you get the idea…

  5. Oh, you are so right about the new ideas thing — I got close to 20k on my WIP then had another idea, wrote a few thousand on that, wondered if my original idea was better… and last week came to the conclusion that it is.

    I think it’s comforting to remember we can go back to these ideas, but not before getting to the end of at least a first draft of the WIP. And that everyone thinks their WIP is rubbish at least some of the time. But the only ones that get published are the ones that get finished!

  6. The grass is always greener in that other book that I’m not writing, definitely! And it’s good to know I’m not the only one with a sizeable pile of I’m Just Saving This For Later unfinished ones kicking around. There should be some sort of rest home for abandoned characters, poor things…

  7. Good to know that I’m not the only one who thinks all my other story ideas but the one I’m working on would be fab. Great post! and thanks for the links. It sounds like it’s a common problem for writers (hooray!) and one that never goes away (ack!).

  8. What do you do when you read through your current project and think it is crap? I am sat here now trying(and failing)to be positve and write…..ho hum

    1. You just accept that everyone feels that way about their current project! Either just ignore the feeling or stop reading through and crack on. (That’s why I love NaNoWriMo – no time to read through so no time for those doubts.)

  9. I completely had this over the summer! Decided the current book sucked and started thinking about another ….it wasn’t until today that I went back to the first and realised I’ve got to finish it ….strange business, this halfwayitis

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