The best thing I ever did as a writer was to move on.
I had struggled with the same manuscript for five years. It was my life. My master work (or so I thought). I couldn’t let go. I wrote a first draft and revised it. Then I joined a critique group and restarted the book again. The new version was even better. Then I went to the Big Sur Writing conference, I realized my protagonist had no backstory. No emotion. Back to page one.
I rewrote that manuscript again. From scratch. Entirely new plot. Things were going well. Both my critique groups grooved on it. Ten months later, I began revising. When I sent out queries, I received two requests for a full manuscript.
Then the hammer fell. One agent gave me a great critique. Trouble was, I agreed with it. My character was true. The premise worked. But the plot was convoluted and the story sagged in the middle.
I had a choice. I could revise that story yet again. I even had a plan for what to fix. But I asked myself: “Am I going to be the sort of writer that reworks the same story over and over again?”
I’m done with this book. Let me write a better one.
And I did. When I finished that book, I was tempted again. This time with revisions to the new book. Now I’ve made the choice to move on again. Write another book.
It reminds me of a quote from Harlan Ellison:
The trick is not becoming a writer. The trick is staying a writer. Day after month after year after story after book.
I plan to live as a writer, and that means writing. Better and better books.