If you’re anything like me (and quit frontin’, you are), then you’ve got a thousand ideas floating around your brilliant little head. But which to write? Which to write?
A few are pretty good, but we don’t feel like tackling those ones just yet. There are short stories, poems, prose, articles and maybe even essays that sound good. But, we want to make the most of our time, so we choose the manuscript we think is the most saleable with the idea of shopping it while we pen the poems and shorts.
But then it happens. We get bored, we get discouraged, we get sidetracked by a new, shiny idea, we get (fill me in, I’m blank), and while we’d like to continue the story we’d written ninety pages of, something else just feels more appealing.
Then we get the guilt, and end up struggling between the idea of writing a book we’re no longer excited about because it might sell, or writing a novella that few, if any, agents represent.
Do we write the story we’d still like to tell and force ourselves to finish it, or press pause on that bad boy and jot down the exciting, shiny story we can probably finish in a week?
We’re inspired, not by the requirement to finish a story, but by the need to tell the one that keeps pressing at our fingertips.
Dear fellow authors, it’s okay to put a project you believe in on hold and write the one that won’t be ignored. Just because you started one doesn’t mean you have to finish it now. (Okay, contracts, deadlines, yadda yadda yadda). But if you’re reading this, you’re probably not in that boat, so it won’t matter if you stop writing the book that took you two years to get to page fifty.
Time flies when you’re having fun, and so do the words on a page. For me, writing is only rewarding if I’m enjoying it. I don’t have to edit the novel I just wrote within this week, this month, or even this decade if there are other stories I’m crazy about.
If art is fluid, if art changes with time, moods, events and such like, then does this not hold true for the process of writing?
If we lose our zeal for this amazing story we’re telling, but the plot of a novellette makes our hearts go aflutter, is it not creative negligence when we ignore that idea because we made a commitment to ourselves to finish this one first?
But what happens if you lose passion for a project indefinitely? You’re two thirds of the way through and just stop. Is it a waste? No, it’ll get written, just not now. And that’s okay. Maybe it’ll never get written, and that’s okay, too.
You’re not incapable of focusing, you’re an author and a thousand things are on your mind. You’re not the only one to put a good book on hold.
When we compel ourselves to finish the project we’ve started, we’re punishing our creative energy which (whether we like it or not) has moved on to something new. We tell ourselves we just need to sit and focus, we just need to power through, we just need to (fill me in).
What happens when we do that is we begin to dread sitting at our writing stations and procrastinate until the absolute last minute. We tire quickly, our daily productivity drops, and we may even be reluctant to do the thing we adore most—write.
What a terrible way for creativity to live. Do we really believe it’s flourishing?
If you don’t press pause on a story you’re struggling to write so you can focus on another one that’s bursting at your seams, you’re wasting your own time. What’s worse, if you force yourself to sit and finish a project you’re no longer in love with, your readers will know.
The best writing comes when passion is driving it. It’s okay to follow that passion. What’s started doesn’t need to be finished, and you’re not a failure, too hyper or incapable of completing something just because the project you believe in has taken a backseat. Write it later, or, maybe consider that it would be happier as a shorter work. If you’re anything like me, that might just be the problem.
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