Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Quit while you’re still winning?

I was reminded the other day of a friend of mine.  When asked why he was moving on from a great job that he loved, his answer was, ‘I want to quit while I’m still winning’.

So what brought this particular piece of wisdom to mind?  I’d just finished my latest manuscript ( 🙂 ).  I was happy with the plot ( 🙂 ).  And I had a warm feeling in my heart for both the hero and the heroine ( 🙂 ).  Oh… and the manuscript was 63,000 words long  (Gulp!)

A few days later, after having some very stern words with myself and wielding a freshly sharpened red pencil like a sabre,  I was back down to 50,000 words – give or take a few.  And, although I’d just edited out quite a few of my darlings, I had to admit to myself that I was a lot happier with the finished product.

And that’s the thing, isn’t it.  You can have not enough of a good thing, but you can also have too much.  (Chocolate springs to mind.)  We’ve all watched TV shows that we loved for the first two or three seasons, but by Season 5 the magic had vanished.  I’ve never actually been on holiday for too long, but I’m told it’s possible 🙂  And I’ve come out of more than one film, wishing that it had been half an hour shorter.

[EDIT… and with my apologies for not making myself clear:  Some things in life are just too precious to quit, though.  For me, writing Medical Romance is one of them 🙂   ]

It’s a fine art.  Knowing when there’s still more to do and you need to keep going, balanced with knowing when this is the best something’s going to get and it’s downhill all the way from here.  And it takes nerve to quit while you’re still winning.  Last week I was very grateful for that 50,000 word limit, because it dragged me back into line and made me submit a better manuscript than if I’d been given free rein to ramble on for another 13,000 words.

So I’m starting to come around to the idea of quitting while you’re winning.  Not too soon – my optimism tells me that there’s always something good waiting around the next corner.  But maybe there are a few things which are better done in smaller measures.  What do you think?

I don’t have any new English language covers to show you this time around, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to show off a few recent covers from around the world, because it’s always such a thrill for me to see them.  Right to left, the French translation of my duo ‘Rescued by Dr Rafe’ and ‘Saved by the Single Dad’, the Italian translation of ‘Discovering Dr Riley, and the Polish translation of ‘Discovering Dr Riley’.


18 thoughts on “Quit while you’re still winning?”

  1. Huge love and hugs omg please don’t I seriously freak out if I hear an author I adore is quitting, begining to think I have a phobia of running out of amazing books to read though I never part with my books much to hubbys horror I’m still waiting on shelves lol,

    I understand wanting to stop while your winning but would you be upset if you suddenly wanted to write after stopping or would you merely move onto writing how ever many words you decide to write, my daughter for example bless her wants to go to Uni has conditional offers wants to do English and creative writing shes also a book worm I literally had to help her cut her word count down that went with her application, we had to shave off I think 400 words took us fair while to do, first thing said to her was see how many times you’ve started a sentence with I and cut as many as possible ect, then she says mum why don’t you write, I just replied darling I could come up with twenty plot bunnies but wouldn’t be able to write what goes around it I’m a reader, shes going to write and has started but don’t know how she would get on with adhering to word counts. Sorry I digress, I truly hope you don’t quit even though your winning as are the rest of your literary sisters and brothers you’d have to feel right about it,

    Huge love and hugs

    1. Oh no! Gwessie thank you for your lovely post, and I’m definitely not thinking about quitting writing! I love it far too much, and I’m so sorry if I gave that impression. That’s one thing I DEFINITELY won’t be quitting – not while there are still so many wonderful readers out there!

      And how wonderful that your daughter is planning to do English and Creative Writing at University. I loved the three years I spent doing my English Degree, and can honestly say that I’ve used what I learned every day of my life since. All my very best wishes to her in her studies, and her writing.

      I do hear you about word counts – and how time consuming it is to cut things down sometimes. It’s a discipline that I think all writers face – hard to do but it can really improve the quality of your writing.

      Love and hugs back. Annie x

      1. Thank goodness, panic over 😉, thank you so much for replying and for the best wishes for my daughter she works so hard and also helps at home with me and her brother, she has a heart of gold, she also loves art and history I once suggested history books illustrated by herself in short story form for children wether she does it or not, time will tell but I’ve said to her its something she has to do for herself and no one else, she wanted me to teach her how to write before nursery the basics I got told off for pushing, I was like no she’s nagging me not the other way round lol,

        Huge love and hugs

        Gwessie x💖x

        1. Thank you Gwessie! Your daughter sounds such a credit to you, and to herself. I think that writing for yourself and no-one else is fabulous advice. I’m sure she’ll try a few different things and then find her niche x

  2. Hi Annie

    What a great post and yes I agree quitting while ahead and still winning is a fabulous way to go I find this very handy with the grandkids LOL and yes I quit my job while all was still going good but I could see it starting to slide so decided to jump the boat to retirement and love it.

    Have Fun

    1. Hi Helen – yes there is something about kids which makes quitting while you’re ahead a handy talent 🙂

      I imagine that quitting your job, when things start to slide, is a very tough decision, but it sounds as if you made the right one! Although it sounds as if you’re no less busy, now. Just goes to show that we never really run out of new beginnings.

      Annie x

  3. Hey Annie – sometimes less really is more, right? 🙂
    I recently cut about 13 k from my latest medical rom manuscript. I didn’t think I could but I put on my big girl panties and it was sooooooo easy. LOL. And it’s much better for it.

    1. Yes, definitely Amy 🙂

      And thank you for making me feel better about having over-shot the 50k mark 🙂 I’m not quite sure how I did it – at one point I seriously wondered whether the word count in the corner of my screen was playing tricks on me. But you’re right, once I’d pulled my big girl panties up, it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. xx

  4. Me too with the overshooting of word count, but I think (hope) that leads to a better story by the time I’ve culled many.
    As for quitting while I’m still liking it – does that count for exercise? 🙂 I’m back on my bike after a while letting it collect dust and cobwebs and really enjoying, though not the aches and pains. Time to quit? Nah, enjoying it too much.

    1. Thank you Sue – I’m starting to feel much better about my word overspill, now that I know I’m in good company.

      Maybe that’s the trick of quitting while you’re ahead? Always leave a way back again. Enjoy your cycling, and may your aches and pains disappear soon x

  5. This is sooooo not my problem! I write short. And then I get rewrites, and instead of cutting the wrong stuff out and putting the right stuff in, I modify the wrong stuff and add in the good stuff. And then I have to cut! ARGH! And I know what I’m doing but I don’t seem to be able to help myself. I’ve always found taking out scenes is like murdering my babies. So my question to you guys is, where do you buy your big-girl pants? Because they don’t seem to stock them in my neck of the woods!

    Caroline xxx

    1. 🙂 Caroline! I’m not sure where I got the big-girl pants from – they seem to have been lurking at the back of the drawer for ages and are only worn on special occasions 🙂

      I baulk at taking out whole scenes, too. Perhaps I’m not so much a cutter as a squisher – which is probably a result of being too wordy in the first place… x

  6. It’s so interesting how some books just seem to fall onto the page in the exact right word count, when others just will not end until you’re waaay over word count! 🙂

    Quitting while one is ahead…not something I think about much, but there certainly are lots of examples out there of hanging onto something until it (or they) become a shadow of what they used to be. I guess finding that balance can be very hard–here’s hoping we all figure it out as we continue this journey called life 🙂 Thanks for the thoughtful post, Annie!

    1. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it Robin. I hit the 50k mark once – rashly decided I’d got the knack of this, now, and then went ahead and blew it on the next book 🙂

      As you say, it’s all a balance. Maybe getting it almost right is good enough 🙂 x

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