Today is the fifth Tuesday of the month, which means that my answer to this heartfelt letter is available exclusively to my Patreon patrons.
If you're feeling the urge to go back and fix (or despair over) what you've written already, and if it's getting in the way of powering on toward your goal and your deadline, this post is for you.
Do your best to get away from "I should be able to do this" and bluntly examine whether it's a good idea for you to do this.
Go ahead, write! You're a writer! Enjoy it! Your book is a mess and that's fine! Many perfectly lovely books start out as messes. Keep on going until you finish your mess.
The best editors act as therapists and teachers too; like therapy and education, being edited can be emotionally difficult and a challenge to your skills, but if you bring your A-game and ditch your ego, you'll get a whole lot out of it.
What makes an original work original isn't that it exists in a vacuum, because no work exists in a vacuum. It's that you layer originality in with the elements that respond to the canon, the genre, and the world.
Since your circumstances make writing a bit challenging for you, you're responding to that by sitting squarely in your comfort zone. Every writer does this from time to time, especially when starting out, and there's no shame in it. You just need to recognize that it's what you're doing, and consciously make the decision to make yourself uncomfortable in the service of your art.
Self-criticism is incredibly painful, because we know where all our own weak spots are. But by that same logic, we can also be our own best allies, cheerleaders, and friends.
It sounds like going scene by scene and character by character has been helpful for you to this point, but it's not what you need right now. You need to see the novel as a novel, to grasp it in its entirety and understand not just the individual parts but how they all work together. You need to turn off your engineering brain and get the book's gestalt. And how you do that is: you read the book.
Inspiration is intermittent and fleeting, and writing without it feels unsatisfying or clumsy by comparison. So we chase after it and try to get inspired again, or we give up on the old project and start a new project, as though that were the only way to write well, or to enjoy writing. It's not.