What Really Happens When You Set Aside a WIP After 10 Years of Revisions

An Autobiography of the Past 7 Months in GIF Form

Last June I set aside the trilogy I’d been striving to revise for 10+ years, because I could no longer see the forest for the trees and it had problems I could not see a way to fix.

It’s gone about like this…

Step One: First, you realize that what you’ve actually done is ripped out a chunk of your heart and left a gaping hole of raw, bleeding soul.

Step 2: You feel like you don’t know your purpose anymore, or where you’re going in life.  You’re not even sure if you’ll ever want to write again.

Step 3: Suddenly God provides you with a new story idea, and it’s actually exciting to you and you want to write again!

Step 4: You start writing your new idea and are getting pretty excited about it. And your friends like it!

Step 5: You hit a snag in your new story. You start to have doubts. I couldn’t make that other WIP work after 10 whole years!! What makes me think I’m ANY good at this whole writing thing??

Step 6: And all you want to do is go back to that beloved WIP and talk to those characters and hug them and never let them go…

Step 7: You spend months trying and dropping WIP after WIP. Nothing is coming together. Each new writing project feels like a fresh experiment in discovering your own inadequacy.

Step 8: But you try to have a good attitude about it all. You’re learning, right? You’re growing, right?? This is a GOOD THING, RIGHT?

Step 9: Finally you reach a kind of peace. You’re still not sure where you’re going anymore, and you still think wistfully about the project you can’t go back to yet…but you’ve found assurance again that God has a purpose for your writing and you’re not a failure.

Step 10: Confidence boosted, you charge forward with purpose toward new possibilities.

Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success. – C.S. Lewis

I haven’t quite reached Step 10 yet…I’m still repeating Steps 7, 8, and 9 (with occasional fallbacks into earlier steps). 😛 But by God’s grace, I’m sure I’ll have clear direction again, one of these days!

And while I’m still not there, I’m pressing on, bit by bit, learning more than I ever thought I needed to learn and laying down more pride than I ever saw before in my heart. I’m finding joy in my journey – even when it hurts and all I want to do is rush back to the hobbit hole of my comfortable, familiar trilogy where my heart lived for ten years. I’m entrusting that world and all those dear characters to God, who knows the very best thing for them (even if that best thing is…gulp…that it might never see the light of day).  And while I wait for the right time to return, I’m following His call to write into new places where I never thought I’d tread.

Life is an uncertain rollercoaster, but He is good. Stories may shatter, but He is faithful.

The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self – all your wishes and precautions – to Christ. – C.S. Lewis

Did you ever lay down a dream after working toward it for a really long time? How did God teach you and bring you to a new direction?

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11 Comments

  1. Anna Bourassa

     /  February 8, 2017

    This is fantastic!!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
    I set aside my first series for a couple years and I’m about to tackle it again.
    I suppose I’m about to find out if these characters have a future — or — if they will be shelved for good.
    We shall see. <3

    Reply
    • I hope you’re able to go back to that series, Anna!! Two years is a long time…I cringe to think it might be that long – or longer – for me! ❤

      Reply
  2. I know exactly where you are coming from! When we first “met,” I had just laid down my WIP for good and thought I wouldn’t be able to write again. One thing God has taught me is that there is never a moment He doesn’t hear our prayers or see our tears over what we feel is loss. He restores and I am seeing that now. Though I’m not working on that old WIP, He shaped that first story into something so much deeper then I ever imagined. I believe He will do the same in your life, Bethany, with all of these story ideas! He sees your heart. Don’t loose hope and keep running the good race. <3

    Reply
    • Thank you, Laura!! Such comforting words. ^_^ Because I struggled with idolatry over that WIP, I’m prone to think that God may refuse to give it back to me as a punishment – but I don’t believe that’s how He operates, and I DO totally trust that He’s holding it for me and has good plans to prosper me, and the story. <3 Thank you, my friend!

      Reply
      • It’s interesting that you mentioned that because just this morning I was thinking something along those same lines. However, like you said, I don’t believe God works like that. As I was reminded of this morning, we have to walk in faith and keep trusting Him. <3

        Reply
  3. I LOVE this!! And I can so relate! My first WIP took 5 years to write, and I finally had to set it aside and work on another series (Black Tiger). But when I went back to the first WIP, I was able to come back with a clear mind and fix it up to where it needed to go, and now it has a publisher! All that to say, maybe this break will be a good time for you to rest your mind (for that project), and perhaps in the future your first love–I mean, WIP–will exceed your dreams. <3

    Reply
    • Yes!! That is my hope and prayer. ^_^ Thank you, Sara – and I’m so excited that in your case you’ve been able to go back and see that old project flourish. That gives me hope! 😀

      Reply
  4. Haha! Love this!

    Reply
  5. Jenifer Carll-Tong

     /  February 19, 2017

    I can so relate to this! lol! I thought I was the only one “hugging” my characters when I miss them!

    Reply

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