Sick-of-your-own-story Syndrome

Are you sick of your own story? It’s the bane of writers. You know how it goes. You receive a rejection and you rework the manuscript. Another beta reader suggests something and then you do another edit. An editor kindly looks at the work and another thorough edit follows. If and when the work gets accepted, some of the better editors will work through multiple rounds of edits.  And so it goes on. Till you’re sick of your own story.

On my own I do a few more rounds, because I’m a fast reader and often miss mistakes. What ends up happening is I’ve read they story almost fifty times and then I’m just sick of my characters. Sick of the world I’ve built.

The story you must work on right now is the one that’s dying to get out of you, not the one you can’t wait to get away from.

Sick of your own story!

Sick of your own story!

To combat that I came up with a plan to avoid the sick-of-your-own-story- syndrome?

-Stay fresh

When I work on edits form my beta reader or an editor and they send me feedback, I don’t jump into it at once. Especially if it’s been 10 days or less. I sit on it and work on another project, till I’ve completely forgotten about my story. That way the story gets fresh eyes and a fresh perspective when I get feedback.

-Work on other manuscripts

This is the best advice I can give you from my own personal experience. I’ve been editing Under A Scottish Sky and Cinders of Castlerea over the last few months. Each of which has multiple rounds of editing. I know portions of my own story by heart. I’m not sick of my characters because I have a rotating schedule for edits. When I send out my edits on Cinders, I start working on Under A Scottish Sky. It helps that the stories are set in Scotland’s Oban and Ireland’s Castlerea! Two very different settings. When you work on multiple manuscripts you’re constantly immersed in different worlds and I can promise you, you wont be sick of your story.

-Read a totally different genre

If I’m editing my romance books then I pick up non fiction books like Zero to One which I read this week  and when I’m editing my Christian nonfiction as happened with Ten Reminders for the Single Christian Woman  I read crime and romance.  When you read the same genre you get caught in a vicious circle of stacking up your own story against what you’re reading even if it’s not intentional. Reading a different genre of books helps me forget about tropes, words and plots about my existing work.

-Organize your Calendar

What is your memory palace like? How long do you retain things? Depending on it, plan your reads and edits on a calendar so that you don’t miss out on reading and working on your manuscript way before or after time. If you feel you get sick of your story, then the opposite is true as well, where you revisit your manuscript and have no clue who these people in your book are. Once you set your calendar, you will find yourself working in an organized manner and you will enjoy the streamlined process.

-Read your beta reviews

Often multiple reads can discourage you. You think is this even good enough? I know by the time I reach my last edits, I sometimes think “Maybe I should start all over again.” We all have these doubts. Every writer is worried if the work stacks up.  When these doubts creep in, read your beta reviewers notes. They can be so uplifting. Dwell on them and let them swell you with pride.

-Take all the time you need

Most editors have a tentative date in mind when your book’s published. The final date is only after your edits come through. If you’re planning a book or going through drafts then you will have certain dates in mind, contests, call dates, submission dates etc. While these dates exist at the back of your mind, they’re not set in stone. If you’re truly sick and tired of your story, then set it aside. Leave it be. Let it rest and breathe. Give yourself a break too. The story you must work on right now is the one that’s dying to get out of you, not the one you can’t wait to get away from. The distance will do wonders for your manuscript. Trust me.

How do you deal with sick-of-your-own-story syndrome? Share your tips.


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