Time to pull the plug?

When is it time to give up on writing a novel that just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, especially one that was begun several years before and has drawn my attention only in lackluster spurts ever since.

The book is to be a sort of sequel to my first novel, Black Wolf Lodge, featuring the same husband and wife main characters. And since the publication of Black Wolf Lodge in 2010 (was it that long ago?), I have had many people inquire as to when the next one is coming out because they really enjoyed the first.

That, in itself, has been an inspirational motivator—usually—to prod me into getting my butt in the chair and seriously working on the thing. It’s not as though I haven’t done so previously. I have well over 80,000 words in the Scrivener bank, but I find it very difficult to do the rewriting, revising, and editing on a regular, disciplined basis. And that, my friends, bothers me.

In my previous two novels, I was excited and eager each morning (when I do my writing) to get at it and pick up from the previous day’s efforts. Watching the stories develop and come together was fun and fulfilling, leaving me with feelings of having accomplished what I’d set out to do.

Now, though, I sometimes get distressed just thinking of the tatters in which the thing currently rests! My plot seems strong one moment, weak and crappy the next. I can’t help but wonder if this lack of enthusiasm to delve into finishing the story with my best efforts is telling me something: Put the thing away and move along to write other things I have been mulling over. (I wrote about this previously.)

As of this writing, that’s my dilemma. On one hand, I want the story to work and have the protagonist come through once again and have the readers hoping there’ll be a third book in the series. On the other hand, I’m just not sure if the story merits any more hemming and hawing on my part. Of course, I’ll never really know until I decide one way or the other. Which voice should I be listening to?

Any suggestions?