[Podcast] First-Time Novelist Linda Fifer on Losing Her First Draft and Her Persistence to Complete the Project

2 identifying your writing purpose 3 honing the writing craft podcast post Jan 10, 2023

It took 13 years before Linda Fifer published her debut novel The Road Between Two Skies.

At one point in those 13 years, Linda lost her manuscript and had to restart her project from the beginning.

Most “writers” would have given up after losing their manuscript. But not Linda. She rewrote her entire manuscript, and five years later published her novel. It took persistence to complete the project.

In this blog post, we talk about Linda’s persistence to complete the project, the benefits of losing your manuscript, and the importance of having a reason to keep writing (especially if you lose your manuscript).  

The Benefit of Losing Your Manuscript

When you’ve agonized over a manuscript for months (maybe even years!), the thought of losing it is soul crushing.

We’ve all had the computer crash on us before we’ve hit save on a document. It’s a pain—starting from square one. But most times the material lost isn’t much; what was lost can be rewritten.

But what happens if your computer crashes and you lose an entire chapter? Or, what if your husband misplaced your handwritten manuscript while on vacation and you lost thirty chapters?

That’s what happened to Linda.

Losing thirty chapters is soul crushing. How could you possibly recall and rewrite everything? It’s tempting to think that was your best—and scrap the project. But Linda didn’t. Instead, she started from the beginning and rewrote her original thirty chapters. Her persistence paid off: she reorganized her book, emphasized scenes that were more important than she originally thought, and developed her characters more fully.

Through the loss she gained a better book: a stronger structure and more developed characters. 

Like a classic plot twist, Linda’s husband found her old manuscript. (After she had rewritten all thirty chapters—and then some!) She spent another nine months consolidating both of her drafts into a single, cohesive manuscript. As she consolidated and rewrote, she realized she was making improvements on her book. She understood everything her first draft was missing.

With each draft Linda rewrote, she improved. And she learned not to be afraid to change her original ideas.

If you lose a manuscript—or even a draft of a chapter or an article—take a cue from Linda: rewriting your original manuscript can help you to become a better writer.

Persistence to Complete Your Project

Maybe you’ve never lost a manuscript. And maybe you’ve never forgotten to save a chapter or article. But there will come a day in your writing journey where something goes wrong. There will be an inevitable moment of despair (probably multiple moments!). It’s the way of writing.

In those moments, you can lose sight of why you’re writing. When you reach those moments, you need to dig for yourreasons to persist to complete your project.

For Linda, her reason to keep writing—even after losing her manuscript—was her characters. She explains her characters stood for an important time in her life; they kept nudging her to persist to complete her project. The more she wrote, the more her characters took on a life of their own. And by the time she misplaced her first draft, she couldn’t give up on the characters. She wanted to see them to the end. She wanted to give them the resolution they deserved. 

What drives you to persist?

What will encourage you to complete your project if you lose your manuscript? Or if you’re rejected? Or if you receive negative feedback? Whatever it is, there will come a moment when you have to decide whether or not you want to complete your project.

Determine your motivation. Maybe it’s your characters, or your family, or personal gratification, or the fact that you’ve been thinking about this book idea for years. Maybe you want to help people. Determine your motivation and write it out. Putting your reason to paper—and physically seeing it—will encourage you to not give up.

Interested in reading The Road Between Two Skies? You can check it out here!



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