Jacquelyn Smith

I Want to See Other Books: When to break up with an idea and move on

The Vicious Cycle:


You get an idea that gets you really excited. You run with it, fleshing it out and turning it into a long term plan. But as you start to actually work on it, you feel yourself losing momentum. At first, you just push through, but eventually you find yourself wondering whether it was such a good idea in the first place.


How do you know when to let go?


The problem is none of us want to feel like a quitter or a flake. We can’t just give up whenever something gets challenging. But at the same time, we also have to be able to distinguish when we’re trying to force something that isn’t working. Since there can be such a fine line between the two situations, it can be tempting to give ourselves an easy way out.


I’ve been struggling with this lately. I had an idea for a new novel that really got me excited, but after I got past the planning stage and started writing it, I just wasn’t feeling it anymore.


At first, I thought it was because it had been a while since I had worked on a novel-length piece, so I pushed through my resistance. (I always find the first few chapters of any novel to be the most challenging anyway.) But now I’m past those initial chapters, and while the writing is coming more easily, I’m still feeling uninspired.


I’ve had this happen before. I already have a few incomplete manuscripts kicking around. I’ve always considered myself to be a finisher though. Even before I put out Light Chasers and Soul Seeker, I completed four other novels (which I have no plans to inflict on the rest of the reading world). The thought of giving up bothers me, but I can’t deny that I’m unhappy with my current project.


“It’s not you, it’s me.”


To make matters worse, I’ve found myself fantasizing about another novel. I’ve been working on a map for a new area of Lasniniar as a side project, and it’s really getting me excited to start working on the next book in that series now that I’ve had a bit of a break from it.


I don’t want to throw my current project by the wayside, but it’s just not working. It’s not a matter of me not wanting to do the work. I just feel like this might not be the right time. Maybe I’m not the writer I need to be yet. Have you ever had that feeling that it was the right idea, but the wrong time?


I think I’m going to shelve it for now and come back to it when I’m ready. I could look at this as failing, but I’m going to think of it as being smart.


If you’re not excited to write something, that’s going to come across to your readers. Granted, novel writing isn’t always a thrill a minute, but if it consistently feels like a grind, you have a problem. Some people might try to tell you that you need to suck it up and keep going, but I think a consistent lack of drive and interest is our brain’s way of telling us to move on.


This feels like the right move to me and now I’m really looking forward to getting some work done. :)


What do you think? Do you give yourself permission to move on from unfinished projects?

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2 thoughts on “I Want to See Other Books: When to break up with an idea and move on

  1. James Garcia Jr

    Hello, Jacquelyn. I just loved your post as it compared with breaking up a relationship. Very cute!
    It sounds to me as if you are making the correct decision as well. I am working on my third novel at the moment while I await my edits on book 2 to arrive at my inbox. With that in mind, I don’t have a ton of experience with this question. My 2nd was a sequel, so it pretty much wrote itself. This third book is not vampires, but a ghost story. I made sure that I didn’t begin this project until I really had something that I was very excited about. So far, so good, but I’m only 40,000 words in. We’ll see!
    Wishing you the very best with your choice here!


    1. Jacquelyn

      Thanks, Jimmy!

      Yeah, books in the same series always feel like such a natural progression, but sometimes you just need a break from the same world and characters. I can’t imagine being able to make it all the way through a novel without feeling passionate about it. Sounds like you’ve got some real momentum going! Good luck and happy writing. :)

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