"Parting is such sweet sorrow," said Shakespeare. Well, he was wrong: saying goodbye is all sorrow and no sweet. The problem is, there are times in life when we as writers need to say goodbye, whether to people, places, stories, or fantasy worlds. I've been reminded of this idea lately because I'll soon be saying goodbye to Asia and moving to the US. There's another reason, too -- I finished my first novel Red Sun Blue Earth last month (you can get it here on Amazon), but that means the story is over. It's done. I need to move on with my writing to a different world populated by different characters.
But what I'm learning is that it's hard to say goodbye.
Now I certainly hope I'm not alone here. Most people have moved to a different house at least once or twice in their lives. Some have even moved to different sates or countries. So you know what I mean--saying goodbye to a beloved place or friend can be difficult.
As writers, though, it can be even more difficult to say goodbye to our favorite stories. When we write, the words and actions and places and people of the story consume us. Even when we finish a rough draft, there's still a lot of editing and revising to do. We have to go back and tinker with sentences or tweak character traits. We see the action in our heads and hear the voices of characters over and over. But, eventually, there comes a time when the story is done. Maybe it's as good as it'll ever be, or maybe you've realized you need to set it aside for now even if it isn't perfect. Maybe you decide there's another story you'd rather be writing. Either way, saying goodbye can be hard.
What can we do, then, as writers? Must our hearts be broken each time we move on to the next story? I think not. Below are some ways to cope with saying goodbye to a story.
1. Keep a list of your favorite quotes from the old story to inspire you and keep you from feeling discouraged at the problems that arise in your writing. You can even collect pictures in an album or on Pinterest and look through them occasionally to revisit the good old days. However, don't leave these out in a too-obvious place--you need to be reminded, but you don't want to compare your new project with the old one. Each project should be uniquely special to you.
2. Get excited about your new project. Write like mad, every day if you possibly can, and be inspired by new character voices and fantastic places. It's a lot easier to remember the old place fondly if you're having fun in the new place!
For me, I've been writing a fantasy story that is really bad in quality but amazing in quantity--in the past four weeks, I've written over 40,000 words/200 (notebook) pages! My philosophy is to focus on writing more pages and enjoying the story, not stressing about whether it's good. (In case anyone's interested, the story is set in modern Ireland/a parallel magical Ireland, and the main character, Kelsey Marx, must take part in political revolutions and act in saintly plays and fight Vikings.) So, all that to say: deeply involve yourself in your new project, and keep at it!
3. Always remember that you can go back. If you really want to, you could write a short story or a poem about those characters from that story. Even better, you can go back and read what you've written. However, your focus should not be on looking back but on looking ahead. Rest assured, greater things are yet to come so long as you keep on writing!
4. If all else fails, eat chocolate and do something un-writing-related (just do not laze around on the Internet!). Maybe buy an awesome 500-piece puzzle. Paint a picture. Play a board game. Take some photos. Then, once you start feeling better, get to work on your new project. And have fun with it! Don't pressure yourself to be perfect, just pressure yourself to enjoy your writing and your life!
So that's it, folks -- your trusty tips to overcoming post-writing-depression. Let me know in the comments if you've ever suffered from this peculiar illness or if you have any other tips on saying goodbye that you'd like to add.