I started off just fine. Writing happily away with no real idea where I was going with it but the story was moving forward and it was interesting. It kept me interested, anyway, which is always the yard stick I use. If I'm interested in the story developing on the page…if I'm still intrigued enough to keep watching the movie playing in my mind…I'm probably writing a story readers will like.
Then I watched a few lectures on storytelling and thought about my novella when I was doing other things…cooking or taking walk…and I realised I knew how to tell that particular story in a much better way.
So now I either have to start again or go back and insert scenes and dialogue to lay the foundation of the new story.
In a way, I've failed. I went into this story without considering the optimal way to tell it. I took a wrong turn at the 5,000 word mark and kept going down the wrong road for another 14,000 words.
But that's okay. Now that I've faced the reality of the situation, the resulting book will be better.
I have to go back and do a lot of work. Time-consuming work. Yesterday, when I thought about what today might bring, I didn't think I'd be scrapping a lot of words. I was getting ready to write a good few thousand new words and bring this project to completion.
But today's reality will never live up to yesterday's dream. As writers, we sometimes let enthusiasm take us over. We say things like, "Tomorrow, I'll write 12,000 words. I've never managed that many in a day so far but I will tomorrow."
Then tomorrow comes and we manage 4,000. Or 2,500. Bleh. We suck. Can't even write 12,000 measly words.
No, we don't suck. It's easy to say, "Tomorrow I'll write 12,000 words" when tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. It's much harder to actually write those 12,000 words when the time comes.
So don't beat yourself up about it. Accept the words you did get done and move on.
"But yesterday I said I'd write 12,000 words."
That was yesterday. That time is gone. You can only live in the present. Yesterday is a memory and tomorrow is a dream. Reality is only happening at one moment in time…right now.
It's good to make goals for tomorrow and it's good to be enthusiastic about them but if you "fail" to achieve them, don't be too hard on yourself.
What I think might happen tomorrow:
What might actually happen:
And it isn't only word counts. If you're writing something and it doesn't live up to the idea you had in your head and the writing is becoming a chore, don't be afraid to say, "You know what? I'm going to scrap this and start again. Or work on something else. Or rework what I have." It's all part of the process and it leads to putting out your best work.
Everyone makes mistakes. I once published two episodes of a sci fi series then realised I didn't have the time to continue it. I pulled the episodes. Some day, I'll go back to that series but for now it's a "fail". I've written romance novellas and novels that failed to sell and I can see why when I look at them. They were't my best work, to put it mildly. Luckily I found a romance niche that suits me and I'm now writing a bestselling series.
It's okay to fail. Just pick yourself up and move on.
If you write a few books that fail to set the literary world on fire, so what? Write another. And another. You're a writer in an age when you can write anything and get it to readers. If your political thrillers fail to sell as well as you'd like, try writing a couple of mysteries or a thriller involving pearl divers.
There's a lot of doom and gloom going around at the moment. Remember that nobody represents the entire industry and just because someone says the latest changes at Amazon are killing their sales, that doesn't mean you have to throw yourself on your sword too. Many people are thriving right now.
While the more vocal doomsayers moan about KU and lack of discoverability, there are many writers quietly working away and making plenty of money.
So if you've failed at something today, don't dwell on it. Do what needs to be done and move on.
After all…tomorrow is another day.