The Art (and Agony) of Starting Over

The Art (and Agony) of Starting Over by Teri Harman, @TeriHarman, #amwriting

A few months ago I hit the 40,000 word mark (half way) in my first draft of BLACK MOON, the sequel to BLOOD MOON. And then promptly decided I hated it.

I’d known it wasn’t right since about 20,000 words, but the idea of starting over completely freaked me out, so I pushed forward. I forced it. Finally, I had my husband read it and he said out loud what I’d known all along, “It’s not good, babe.”


So I scrapped the whole thing and started over.

Edwin Land, scientist, inventor and co-founder of Polaroid, said, “An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.”

Creativity is a process, a complicated one, and sometimes it means knowing when to start over, begin again. This can be said of writing novels, painting a picture, creating a recipe – anything. It was agonizing to look at all those words, all those hours of work, and know I had to leave them behind. But it was also somewhat liberating, knowing I could move forward and do better.

The second attempt of BLACK MOON is so much better. It’s more true to the characters and to me as an author.

There is art in a second try.

Ever had this happen to you on a project, any project? How did starting over help?


6 thoughts on “The Art (and Agony) of Starting Over

  1. Oh, yes. So very much yes. I've had several books crash and burn as I tried to get them started – one after six or seven chapters, one after only a few, one after eleven pages. It's never a good feeling, to say the absolute least. Hell, one of the things I'm plotting now is probably the eighth or ninth attempt to get a particular story to work.But starting over is exactly that. It's a chance to toss aside everything that didn't work and figure out what does work. And as much as it sucks to say it, sometimes starting over is the best thing you can do for yourself and the story.Glad to hear the new start is working out well for you. ^_^

  2. Thanks, Mason! Hope yours are going well, too. And you're very right – it weeds out the bad and keeps the good, making the finished product so much better than it might have been.

  3. Oh, that is painful… but I really admire you for doing it. I have one book (the first I attempted to write) that I had to toss when I was about half-way through it. Whenever I felt bad about all the work I'd put into it, I just reminded myself of how much I learned about writing in those 20K words. For that alone, it was worth writing.

  4. The lost hours might be redeemed when that attempt turns out to be the core of something else. It may not be right for this story, for these characters, but that doesn't mean it's a total loss.Lauren

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s