One of the hardest aspects of writing for me to learn was the value of patience. As a younger writer, I was always eager to plow ahead. More than anything, I just wanted to get on to the next scene and advance the story so that the end would come sooner. In that way, I suppose I was more interested in having a manuscript finished than I was in having it complete. I never wanted to take a step back when things felt as though they were no longer working out the way I envisioned. As a result, I was left with many stories that sputtered out way before they were done.
In one of the manuscripts I'm currently working on, I reached a point this past week where I was struggling with what was on the page, and with adding anything more to it. At this point in my career, I've learned that when such a thing happens, it's probably not a problem with my abilities, but a problem with the story. A wrong turn had been taken. And while I may have been able to grind it out and push through, I know that upon re-reading it, I would always feel that something wasn't working during that point in the story. After several days of trying to puzzle it out, I realized that the chapter would simply have to go. It was time to retreat several pages and take a new approach.
I'm always careful not to make this choice drastically. Some scenes are just difficult to write. Part of the process is determining if the scene is difficult or wrong. It can take several days of struggle before being able to confidently come to a conclusion. Once I had, it usually takes another day to go back and discover what direction I should have taken. Though it's time consuming, and typically tough, it always seems worth it. I'm glad to report that things are currently back on track.