I hadn’t realised it until today, but when undertaking any project, there’s a point where you’re too far in to give it up. In business, sunk costs shouldn’t be factored into the decision as to whether to continue a project, but in a labour of love, it’s crucial. I passed that point with my novel a good few weeks ago, but only today did it make itself apparent to me.
The point of being too far to give up can be at different stages of different projects. In my case, looking back, it was probably when I bust a gut to make my 20,000 word deadline. Before then, I’d put in effort, but never shifted plans in order to write, or had to slog long and hard into the night to get the words down on paper. The relief when I hit the goal was like a sandbag lifted from my shoulders.
However, having only written 5,000 words since that point almost a month ago, I’d sidelined the novel. The characters aren’t who I want them to be. My plot is running out. The practice of jumping between characters is faltering.
The writing of a novel requires a huge amount of stamina. The story needs to keep evolving, but every day can bring with it a fair number of setbacks. Passing the point of no return carries with it a commitment to see through these setbacks – and all future setbacks, before you’ve even encountered them. After this point, the choice as to whether you’ll overcome the bumps in the road is removed. You simply have to. The only question that does still remain is how you can spin your way out of them. Seeing light shining over the wall you’ve run into is often motivation enough to keep going. When you know more or less where you’re going, the distance doesn’t seem so far.
And so, my characters are still weak, my plot forecast is still not great and the way I’m telling the story may still have run its course. But there’s light. And I’m too far in not to follow that light.