Step five in this process? I hope you’ll forgive me, because it requires caps. DO NOT GIVE UP.
Seriously, it is that important and cannot be ignored. Don’t give up on your story. No matter how many times you get frustrated and want to walk away, which is sometimes helpful, you need to return to the story until it is finished. An unfinished story (and I have one that calls to me, that will not be left unfinished for much longer) is a chance not taken. It deserves its chance to live on the page, to grow into a place you can walk through and beside your characters. Don’t give up on those characters that are depending on you.
It’s hard not to give up and the road to a finished story is by no means traveled in a straight line. It takes detours and switchbacks and long breaks from travel to get the story finished. Finding what motivates you when times get tough is hugely helpful especially when you know what those things are before going into a project. I know when I lose my motivation and I’m feeling like I want to give up, that I need to walk away for a time and then I need to re-enter the story in a different place than where I left it. Writing a short story about something happening in the world from a different point of view or writing a moment between two characters before the story begins or after where I envision the story ending can be a huge motivator to get back into the manuscript. If I’ve really lost my drive to finish a story or am feeling disheartened about my writing, I will look back at my journals from a decade ago and remind myself of how far I’ve come since then. If either of those fail to inspire, I’ll meditate, read, watercolor, or knit until I’ve refilled my cup and I’m ready to go. No matter what, do not give up on your story.
What helps motivate you to get back into a writing project when the motivation goes away? What is the thing that helps motivate you not to give up? Remember, you are doing a great job and you are more than enough.
A very important disclaimer, as seen in previous steps of this process: This answer is going to be vastly different from writer to writer, and sometimes project to project. The steps in this series are not meant to be followed exactly and precisely each and every time a writer takes on a project. I’m describing the steps and the process I loosely follow when starting a writing project. Each part and piece is a distilled version from advice, workshops, conferences, worksheets, teacher training, student experience, and other things I know I’m surely forgetting that have all settled into this version of what my writing process, generally speaking, is today.