No writer starts a work in progress with the intention of not taking it all the way.
That first sentence is always created with every expectation you’ll type “The end”, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
Life sidelines you. A shiny new idea comes along. Or this idea is simply the one that gets away.
4 Signs It’s Time To Dump Your Work In Progress
1. There’s No Spark
Sure, you might have felt all the things when you first got your idea, maybe the excitement even carried over into penning the opening chapters, but now that spark is gone.
If you can’t even make it to the dreaded middle stretch of your book without at least a flicker of a spark, it’s time to consider this WIP isn’t going to work out.
2. Interest Has Waned
And not just a little interest—all the interest.
If the thought of having to work on this WIP has you procrastinating, procrasta-writing, and doing everything else but sitting down to create some sentences, why are you bothering?
Yes, there are some days when the muse just isn’t there, or every typed paragraph is a hot mess, but if you have any interest in your WIP, you can still string something together.
If you’re finding that you can’t even get half a page of poorly written words together, and your interest in editing them into something readable is even worse, move on to a different WIP.
3. There’s No Communication
Sometimes you’re working on a WIP that you can sit and write, and one that holds your interest, but you’re just not getting anything from the characters.
Their communication is non-existent. You can’t hear them in your head, the dialogue doesn’t sound like words people would say, and you’re just not getting what you need to create the characters you want to write, let alone ones that readers will want to read about.
If the communication between you and your characters is not what you need to make your WIP great, it might be time to think about cutting the lines of communication for good.
4. It’s Not Them, It’s You
On the flip-side, you could have chatty characters, an idea that has legs, and the desire to work on this WIP every day. You might even sit at your desk, tea steaming, and a chocolate reward ready—and you just can’t get anything to work.
It’s not a case of words not coming out right or a lack of ideas. You have them, maybe too many, and that could be your problem.
You might churn out fifteen chapters before realizing the MC should really be your side character and vice versa. You might get to the final chapter and notice that the brilliant ending you thought up halfway through just won’t cut it.
You could eagerly write and rewrite this WIP for a year and still be no closer to finishing it. Maybe you aren’t able to move away from your original vision. Maybe you don’t yet have the writing skills to pull it off. It’s not the WIP, it’s you, and it might be time to walk away for both of your sakes.
That doesn’t mean you have to end your relationship forever, just for right now. Put the WIP in a drawer or save it in a special folder on your computer. Things might be different a few years down the track.
Or, you could find that your next WIP is The One.
There’s an ongoing spark, there’s interest, there are characters that immediately feel like you’ve known them your whole life. It’s you and them, together and working! But it might not have happened if not for the WIP that didn’t work. Dumping that WIP led you here, and for that, you’ll always be grateful for the time you spent together.
Have you ever dumped a WIP? Share your experience in the comments.
— K.M. Allan