Discover more from Erica Drayton Writes
What to Do w/All Your Unfinished Projects?
I’ll be the first to admit there are at least two schools of thought when it comes to unfinished projects. But first, let me start out by saying, for me, an unfinished project is along the lines of a writing project. A story idea that just never made it to those two illustrious words every writer hopes to write; THE END. We all have them. Famous authors have them. Posthumous authors have them. Those stories we started but never finished. Now, back to the two schools of thought…
One might say they should be finished. It’s just that, for whatever reason, you weren’t in the right headspace at the time. Set it aside (as you likely already have) and after a decade or two, blow the cobwebs from that file you have buried in some “archive” folder and get cracking. Cause every story deserves to be finished! I am not of this school of thought.
Another, and one I firmly believe, is that not every story is meant to be “finished” or at least finished to any definition one might use. In fact, I believe that sometimes the story wasn’t finished when you started because there was something just not right with it and deep down you knew it. Maybe the characters weren’t speaking to you? The plot didn’t quite work out as you intended? You tried to force it to be a novel but maybe the best vehicle for it was a short story and writing them just isn’t your thing? Whatever the reason, I’m here to say that it’s perfectly OK to leave some ideas and unfinished projects in that “archive” folder.
Don’t let those steps you had to take in your past deter or distract you from that next great idea you have that will likely hit it out of the park.
I’m a firm believer that if a story is meant to be finished then it will happen in the moment. Even if you have to take a break (days or months or years) there will always be something in the back of your mind itching for you to get back to it cause there’s more words to be written and story to tell till it’s finished. If that doesn’t happen and the spark just isn’t there like it was when you started, walking away and tucking it away so it’s out of sight and out of mind is the best decision you could’ve made.
All too often I see people stressing over that story they wrote ten, fifteen, twenty years ago and how because of that one story they’ve been unable to write or finish anything else they’ve started along the way. Who knows how many ideas were dropped in favor of a story that you started when you were a different person?
I’d like to think some semblance of growth happens in all of us. Especially writers, because we are constantly reading to perfect our craft. At least, I hope you didn’t spend those ten, fifteen, twenty years not reading? Therefore, the idea you wrote then probably is nowhere near the person you are now and trying to finish it for “finishing” sake can honestly be a waste of time. If it was meant to be written it would’ve happened by now.
I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve kept that I wrote back when I was a teenager (more than twenty years ago…) that I chuckle at. Unfinished novels and screenplays. There is no way I’d even consider trying to salvage or complete them. They are proof that I’ve grown leaps and bounds since then. Even unfinished work from ten years ago, five years ago, I look back on them fondly. Memories of the hurdles I had to take to get to a place where I am today.
If not for those unfinished projects and the countless books I read along the way I don’t think I’d know what a “finished” project feels like. Now, my ideas are much more thought out ahead of time. I know what makes interesting characters and plot arcs. These are things I had to learn by starting projects and not finishing them. I finish projects I start and if one has to change to be something else I am able to spot the signs early on in the planning stages so I can do what must be done.
And if you’re someone who just spent the last decade of your life trying to finish something that just isn’t working, don’t worry. It’s A-OK that you did. Because with every try is a lesson to be learned. Those were not wasted years, those were growing years. And I challenge you to take all that you’ve learned in that time and apply them to something new and different? See what you can come up with and if that doesn’t start that spark that leads you to a finished project. You won’t know till you try and who knows, that one might just turn out to be your best work yet...
Tap that heart if you like what you just read. Want to leave a comment? Click below the talking head. Or if you just want to share my work with your friends, click below the mailbox. Thanks!