Earlier this month, I started writing my first book.
About five-thousand words in, however, I stopped writing it. The truth was, I didn’t want to get back to it, and I couldn’t figure out why.
I knew it wasn’t fear, laziness, or lack of motivation. I wanted to write, but when I tried, I dreaded it.
It took me about a week to figure out why, but eventually, I realized: I was writing the wrong book.
Realizing I was writing the wrong book
Authors always tell you to write the genre you read the most.
For me, that’s horror, suspense, or thrillers, so I didn’t think twice before thinking about the book I wanted to write.
It wasn’t until I found a great piece of advice from Shaunta Grimes that changed everything.
Shaunta suggests writing down ten things that inspire you, such as books, tv shows, or places. Then, she tells you to find things in common between those ten things.
I wrote my ten things and realized that despite my love for horror, I don’t have a favorite horror book.
All of my favorite books or movies revolve around the same topics: feminism, injustice, racism, strong female leads.
That meant one thing: I’d have to start again.
Mistakes aren’t a waste of time
I made a mistake — a common one, I’m sure, amongst the writing community.
Just ten months ago, I would’ve been furious. If you know me, you know how much I dislike wasting time.
A mistake, to me, was just that — time I would never get back. But I had to make that mistake because mistakes aren’t a waste of time. They’re lessons.
And this is one lesson I’ll carry with me until the day I stop being a writer (read: until the day I die).
The lesson? Never write a book you don’t want to write.
If I hadn’t learned that lesson now, who knows how many times I would’ve stuck to writing horror because I thought I was supposed to?
Be brave enough to see your mistakes
Knowing you have to start again can be a little scary.
You just barely got through the fear of starting one book, and now you have to go through it again to start another?
I could’ve chosen to ignore my gut feeling that I was doing something wrong. I could’ve continued forcing myself to write.
I would’ve ruined my love for writing if I did that.
The process would be grueling and miserable, and perhaps I wouldn’t want to try writing a book again for a long time after that.
Admitting you made a mistake takes courage. You can’t place the blame on anyone else because writing a book, whether it’s the right or wrong one, is all on you.
No one likes to confess they screwed up, especially in this era where everyone on social media seems to have perfect lives. They don’t mess up, how could I possibly admit I did?
But we all fuck up. A lot. Every day.
Sometimes we trip over nothing, say the wrong thing, or write the wrong books. Screwing up is a part of life, so own it.
Find the secret lessons
Don’t let your mistakes go to waste. Force yourself to find a lesson.
Like some people, I don’t think everything happens for a reason, but I do believe you can find purpose in everything.
Find purpose in realizing you’re writing the wrong book, the wrong chapter, the wrong scene.
The same thing happened just last night with a short story I’m writing. I realized I was writing the wrong idea, so I scrapped practically everything and rewrote it.
The result, which I finished a couple of hours ago, was better than what I’d first had in mind.
If you don’t like your character, maybe you’re writing the wrong one. If something feels off, there is something off.
Always trust your gut instinct. If you realize you’re writing the wrong book, it’s no big deal. Let it go.
Leave in in your drafts folder — maybe you’ll even get back to it one day — and figure out the message you want to tell.
Start again. There’s nothing wrong with that.