Renewing the Old

What if you have an old project you’re no longer excited about? Maybe you’ve been slowly trudging through a story for a long time. Maybe you started a novel in the past, had to stop for whatever reason, and now you’re trying to pick it up again. That original spark, which seemed so brilliant at the time, is now snuffed out. What can you do about it? Is the project doomed? Should you move on to something else, a new idea you’ve been eager to write?

If the characters still haunt your dreams and waking thoughts, don’t give up on them yet. Perhaps you just need to remind yourself why you fell in love with them in the first place (whoa, I didn’t mean for that to sound like marriage counseling). A few ideas to renew the passion (okay, now this is getting weird):

1. Music. If you’re anything like me, you have a playlist for your story. These are the songs that remind you of your characters. I don’t actually listen to songs while I’m writing, but I listen a lot when I’m not writing—especially when I’m plotting or brainstorming in my head. The best songs inspire the plot. Those songs weave into the characters, until I can’t hear the songs without thinking of the story. Even now, months after finishing EYES OF LIGHTNING, I can hear a song from the EOL playlist and immediately be transported back into that world. It makes me want to sit down and spend time with the characters again, just to feel that beauty of 3-D music-story.

2. Collage. Find pictures or items that remind you of your story and throw them together somehow. I tried this during the first draft of THE RIVER’S EDGE, just for fun. I cut out magazine pictures of the actor that resembles Blay, and I took my own pictures of the local setting. TRE also has a unique paranormal villain, so I attempted to draw the creature. The result was comical due to my poor art skills, but I included it anyway. I put all the pictures inside a large frame and set it on top of my desk. I still like to look at it, even when I’m not writing TRE. While working on a story, I have so much info juggling in my head … I think it helps to have something concrete to visibly focus on. And it makes we want to jump back into that world.

3. Reinforcements. This is reason #594 why it’s good to have a critique partner. Email your CP and say, “I need some encouragement.” CP reads what you’ve written so far, loves it, and begs you for more. Nothing is more exciting than good feedback from a reader. You’ll want to write faster than ever. Plus your CP will be threatening nagging you to finish, so it’s good motivation.

4. Inspiration. Anytime you wonder, “Will I ever finish this book?” all you have to do is look at your bookshelf. Thousands of people have finished books—sometimes the books are even good! If those authors did it, then so can you. A great finished product (whether it be book, movie, or whatever) can inspire you to keep working on yours. It’s not just the goal of publication … it’s the joy of creating a story and sharing it with others. The magic of storytelling.

These are the only ideas I can think of, so I’d love to hear more from you. Tell me, cause I want to know—how do you rediscover the excitement for an old story??


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