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NewlyNested: How Do You Know When It’s Time To Call It Quits?

For the last year whenever anyone asks me how my novel is coming along I always answer, “Like I’ve been saying for the last two years, it’s almost done!”  This running joke had always been my way of reassuring myself of the progress I’ve made, while providing an answer to a question that I don’t like to discuss.  For a while it was the perfect answer, but now my own attitude is bothering me.

I have given myself many reasons for why my novel isn’t done yet.  First, it was the moving that disrupted the flow.  Then it was the revolving door of visitors we had.  Finally, it was the lack of having an office and my own space to write in.  Now I’m moved into my own house, we won’t be having visitors for months, and my office is complete with a desk, bookshelf, and my very own couch to lounge on.  So what’s my excuse now?  I have none.

This is my first novel and I went into it a bit naively.  I never sat down and sketched out my characters or the plot.  To me it was unnecessary because I saw everything so clearly in my head.  Now this has become my biggest downfall.  About 8 months ago while I was rewriting my novel I decided to redo the whole arc of one of my characters and now I am trying to rethread and expand the story. I am lost in pages, in characters, and in plot.  I’ve tried to get this story straight and done, but now with a regular writing schedule I’ve come to realize that the problem is my disorganization shows all over the place.  I’ve lost steam and confidence in the story and myself.  I will never write another novel again without doing a full character sketch for everyone in my story first, as well as writing a detailed outline.

I’ve hit a scary point.  For the last two months when someone asks me specifically about my novel I say, “This might have to be the one that sits in the drawer while the second one goes out.”  I like my novel and love my characters, but completing it seems impossible at this point.  My interest in continuing to finish is diminishing and depressing.  I’m wondering if it’s time to throw my hands up in the air, think of this as a huge life lesson, and move on to a new story.  Has anyone ever been here before?  What’s your advice?

featured image credit: gizzypooh