How to not write a book

I don't know the secret to writing a book, but I accidentally figured out how to NOT write a book.

When I finished my first book earlier this year, one of my beta readers told me it wasn't a full book. While I kind of saw what she meant, I felt like I was done, that I had told the story I had in my head, so I published it.

Then I started to study more about the craft of writing, and storytelling, and plotting, and I realized she was right. It wasn't a full book. It was the first 1/3 of a book.

I set aside the month of August to finish it. Plotting the last 2/3 of a book when you didn't plot the first 1/3 is awful. AWFUL. But I had pantsed the first part and it took 3 months, so I knew I had to get the second part in order if I wanted to finish it in just one. However, all the creative ideas I had were just not possible because of how I had set things up. Side stories I had never intended to finish needed to be worked in and tidied up. It was incredibly painful and hard and my poor friends got so many emails about how much I hated it. But I had to do it.

And I did. I finished it. Hurray!

I could have gone back and rewritten the whole thing. I decided not to, simply because I felt like I needed to get everything out first. Also, I don't like the idea of going back and changing something that "past me" put so much effort into.

I did ask myself if this was just a form of laziness, to avoid the work of rewriting, and maybe that was part of it. But a bigger part of it is wanting to preserve these first efforts, as a reminder of where I started. I didn't have to publish the first thing I wrote. But I did, wanting to have that public view, knowing it was out there in order to push me to keep creating and growing. I studied art history in college, and while some artists go back to change or even destroy their earlier works, I just don't think that's for me. I want to see the progression in myself that I love witnessing in so many of my favorite writers and artists. I think that will make me feel more like one of them.

This being said, who knows, I might come back in a few years and rewrite it anyway, once I've learned more, and may reconsider what my writing means to me. This whole process of writing the second part, of really finally finishing a book, was important for me to figure out how I write, how I form ideas, and how I manage the entire process.

So while I don't have the my own methods quite figured out, I think it is safe to say that this is 100% not the way to do things going forward!

Do you keep your old work published, go back and fix it, or do you destroy it?