I recently decided to self a project I had been working on for about a year. Though I still like it, and I don’t regret any of the time I spent on it- I do think it is time.
I struggled with this decision and I hear a lot of people asking how they will know it’s time to do so with their own project. While ultimately it’s up to you to decide, I thought I share the reasons why I finally decided to shelf BoS and why I have no plans on returning to it.
I started writing BoS (Built of Stardust) in 2016. I had been toying around with several ideas for a while at that point, but I really wanted to start treating writing like a career, so I picked one of them to follow through with. Jan of 2017 I was about halfway through and truly started the writing as a career goal and wrote at least a little everyday. This was the best decision ever. My writing not only got better, but it became easier and flowed more naturally.
I finished the first draft in April and immediately began revising. I spent the summer revising it several times, sharing with critique partners, and then submitted it into PitchWars in August. I was very happy with where it was at that point. People seemed to like it, I had seen myself grow so much, and I have never stuck with a single project for so long. Things were looking up. I even received two full requests during PitchWars, but I wasn’t picked by a mentor.
During this time I started a new project, and I almost instantly fell in love with the idea. When I found out I didn’t get selected for PitchWars I decided to spend sometime with the new project and just take a break from BoS. Then I received some feedback from one of the mentor who had requested a full from me. It was very kind. She liked the query and like the idea, said the writing was clean and enjoyable to read, but it just was missing something. This got me thinking about BoS and wondering what I could do to fix it, but honestly my heart just wasn’t in it anymore.
For a while I thought it was due to the “shiny new idea” I’d been working on, but even when things got hard with that I didn’t want to go back to BoS. I knew what the problems were, I knew how to fix it, but I just didn’t want to. It still wouldn’t be as good as the new project, and I didn’t have the DESIRE to actually put in the work.
The nail in the coffin for BoS, was starting my internship. Though I can’t mention any specifics about the manuscripts I’ve read, I have read so many stories that just seem like first stories. They are flat, predictable, and just nothing special. I realize now that is what BoS’ issue is. It just wasn’t a good enough story.
Now, I don’t regret any of the time I sent working on BoS. I learned a lot, I met some really great people, and I still love the story, I just don’t think it’s THE story. The story that gets me an agent. The story that gets me a book deal. That story hasn’t happened for me yet, and that’s okay. I needed BoS so that when I found that story I could be the writer I need to be to do it well.
So , if you’re struggling with whether or not to shelf a project I have a few questions to help you decide.
- Do you still love it? Yes- then don’t give up on it. No- then set it aside for a while. If you change your mind, it’ll still be there. Work on something else. Maybe your next project will be the one.
- Have you edited it multiple times? No- try editing again. Yes- maybe it’s time for querying or a break.
- Have you sent it to critique partners? No- Send it! Yes- try asking them what they think. They can’t make the decision for you, but they could give you some insight.
- Do you just want to write something else because it’s shiny and new and your old project is boring? How long have you been feeling this way? A few week- keep working. Months or Years- Write the new thing. But set yourself a hard goal! Finish a first draft before moving on to the next shiny idea.
I know this is a hard topic. No one like spending a ton of time on something that will never see the light of day, but not all stories need to be published. Everyone needs some stories to just practice writing with. You wouldn’t want to go to a Broadway show where the actors had never sung or acted before, so maybe your first few books don’t belong on shelves. That’s okay!! Just keep them for yourself so when you finally have that published book you can look back and see how far you’ve come!
Thank you for stopping by and if you have any hints on how to know when to shelf a project, leave me a comment down below!
If you want to read more about shelving projects, check out my critique partner Lainey’s post on why she decided to shelf her last project.