5 year writing project: get a novel published

I started writing during NaNoWriMo in November 2011. The words just flew onto the page. 50,000 in a month. Easy! But come December, I had lost my steam.

Should you ever abandon a novel?

editing novel  - Ruth LivingstoneI have been writing a novel for 3 years. It is a great story. I know the characters well. The finished product is clear in my mind.

I started writing during NaNoWriMo in November 2011. The words just flew onto the page. 50,000 in a month. Easy!

But come December, I had lost my steam. I started going back and fiddling. Now some of the early chapters looked pretty good. But I lost my forward momentum. And I got finally bogged down about two-thirds of the way through. I guess I hit what is often known as the “soggy middle”.

Now, all the standard advice goes like this: just finish it. It doesn’t matter what sort of mess you have written, you can knock it into shape during the editing stage.

But I have discarded that advice.

My first attempt at a novel (O.K. second attempt – I have another one somewhere from NaNoWriMo 2010) is a pile of steaming horse manure.

So what did I do? Abandoned it and started again. A new novel. A completely new plot, characters and a new genre.

spacer - Ruth Livingstone - writer

Progress with the new novel?

I am thirty-seven chapters into it and still steaming ahead. Haven’t done a word count yet.

Yes. I will finish this one. I have already written the ending, just in case – although I do reserve the right to change it.

Working title: The Reluctant Scribe.

Author: Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.

12 thoughts on “5 year writing project: get a novel published”

  1. Hi Ruth, that was ruthless, to abandon your words. I’m the opposite. I plod on with something that I’m struggling with. But now I have the answer… get help from as many people who will read it as possible. The main result of that is, you have to listen to what they’re saying and where you’re going wrong. Which for me, is possibly, getting the pen and paper out. No, seriously, we have to aim to get better, or we’re living in a bubble aren’t we? Good luck with it, keep us posted with your posts.


  2. The advice to just get through a piece works if you haven’t spent over a year pouring yourself into it, and it’s still not close to being publishable. It’s better to cut your losses and try again, using everything you now know about writing from the beginning. I applaud your decision. May your book bring you joy.


  3. Oh yes definitely. I think the “Just Finish It” advice only counts if you know your story is “the one”. If not, there’s nothing wrong with shelving something and starting again.

    I bet you’re using a ton of lessons that you learned in the failed story to get so far in the new one.

    All the best!


  4. Well done for the bravery it must have taken to ditch it. I find working through the outline (or applying an outline to a story written without one) can help to shake up a dying MS. Remeber either way, we learn so muc more from mistakes than form anything else. Best of luck with the present MS.

    Shah, X


    1. Yes, I definitely have learnt a tremendous amount from my mistakes. That is worth a blog post in its own right – and thanks for the idea! My main problem was with POV and voice. Some day I’ll go back to the abandoned novel and your suggestion of writing out an outline would be a good way to start.


  5. I was impressed!! I am sort of new to the writing scene, I get my ideas from my dreams…I did want to know how writers count the words….one by one….or is there another method. That seems to be a big deal with each of them, so thought I would ask you! Your very talented and wishing the best for your new novel! Sandy at sandysanderellasmusings.blogspot.com


    1. Hi Sandy, most of us count words the lazy way- using the ‘word count’ tool in our word-processor. I’m writing this novel in separate documents, one for each chapter, and I haven’t added them all up yet. Why are writers obsessed with word counts? I guess it’s like measuring the length if a piece of knitting. It’s nice to know how much you’ve done and gives an indication of how far you have yet to go.
      Thanks for dropping by and for your kind comments.


  6. Seems like you made the right choice. However, I do usually make sure to finish any novel I want to keep working on, even if it means I have to totally rewrite the novel later. I have now rewritten two of my novels, whereas before I was more of an “edit what you’ve got” sort of person. But the rewrite can really inject new life into an old dead horse of a manuscript. 🙂


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