No one likes to give up, no one likes to let go of something precious, but then life happens and you need to make a choice.
There comes a time when you just want to ditch the novel or screenplay you’ve been working on for two years because you just can’t make it work.
It happened to me twice now and I must admit it’s hard to let go. You always feel you might be closer than ever, that you just need a few more people to give you their insights and then you’ll be able to crack it and sort everything out. Maybe you just haven’t found the right agent or the right producer yet. The list goes on and on.
Truth is, the time you spend on writing a story which doesn’t deliver is a time that you don’t spend on developing new ideas.
Giving up a story is similar to a romantic break up – you were once in love, you spent so much time together, but now it is only keeping you up at night, frustrated, worried and regretful.
I had to let go of a spec script I’ve been working on for two and a half years after I haven’t seen any progress from the producers I’ve met with. I had to let go a TV show spec that a studio had been interested in but bailed on me and my writing partner. I had to let go of my writing partner too so I could move on and stop working on that TV show.
Is it worth more time? Should you approach it from a different angle? Should you get more notes and beta readers to review your work? Should you leave it aside for a few weeks just so you can look at it with no prejudice?
If you look at it from a Buddhist point of view, attachment is one of the illnesses of mankind. Holding on to something too tight too long can cause you nothing but troubles and an unease mind.
Letting go will be like a breath of fresh air to your lungs. Only when you let go of CO2 you can breathe Oxygen back in and think clearly. You might never rewrite it again, you might have a Eureka moment in the future, but you have to change perspective.
Here’s a quiz that will help you decide:
- How many years are you working on just this piece? 0, 1, 2, 3…
- How many people gave you notes? 0, 1, 2, 3…
- How many solutions are there now that you can’t decide upon? 0, 1, 2, 3…
- How many agents, producers, publishers, directors turned you down? 0, 1, 2, 3…
- How many other projects are you working on right now? 0, 1, 2, 3…
- How much are you sick of it by now? 0, 1, 2, 3…
- If you score fewer than 8, toughen up and continue rewriting until you make a real effort.
- If you score between 9 and 20, give it a push by working on the categories you have lower score on.
- If you score 21 or over, it might be a good time to let it go and re-think your strategy. You need to keep a distance until you find a solution that you feel confident about.
If you are J.K. Rowling, don’t give up Harry Potter will pick up big time 🙂