Author Adventures: Abandoning Projects

Back in July I wrote about 20,000 words in a project that I poured my soul into. And I ended up completely abandoning it. Why? Because it was really, really bad. It was one of the first fiction pieces that I’ve ever composed that made it over a few thousand words. It would have been a very obvious self insert to anyone who knows my real life. It was cringey (to me, who knows if the real world would despise it as much as I was in the end).

The story overall has potential but I wrote about an issue that was plaguing me personally and it was an extremely cathartic writing process. It helped me to mourn a situation that was causing me a lot of problems and move forward. It let me tell a story that I needed to tell in order to heal. There might come a time when I revisit the story but in recent weeks I was inspired by the possibility of two new stories which is great because I haven’t written anything other than poetry in months… And if I’m honest I haven’t written any poetry in a while either.

I’ve always felt this inherent guilt over abandoning projects. But I think the more that I shelve, the more I realize what I’m doing wrong and what I can do to improve. I may be a panster when it comes to writing but I think I actually need to learn how to outline. I’ve never outlined, in school I used to literally write my project/paper and then do the outline if I was required to have one. I like being able to write whatever scene is inspiring me at the time, but that comes at a cost. If I had an outline to follow, I could still do this but instead of just randomly writing really good scenes, I would be writing good scenes in their proper place in my manuscript.

Right now, I’m actually researching (WHO EVEN AM I) for a project that randomly came to me the other day and I’m taking it really slowly. Life is a lot right now and while I totally want to have results *RIGHT NOW* I think that I want to try to not abandon this project… And to do so I need to have my shit together. Which means doing a lot of research and compiling a cohesive outline.

When it comes to abandoning projects, I think I’ve started to take a more “it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later” approach. Though some projects I might never write in again, I’ve definitely started to borrow themes and scenes from old projects in my newer ones. Recycling at its finest!

It’s important to foster the works that you can be proud of and if abandoning something you don’t really want to see the light of day is what it takes to point you to something you could be proud to publish some day then abandon it. On the other hand though, I think it’s also important to not abandon something that you just get momentarily stuck on. If you have more ideas for one project, just keep writing through the stickiness, the editing will help fix it later. (Oof, that sounded so preachy and I apologize haha)

So I guess this was just me confirming that I abandoned a really big project and might potentially be starting two new ones now…

What do you do if you realize you might need to abandon a project? Do you abandon projects? Do you ever pick them back up again and if so how do you know it’s time to revisit it? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. It is October 12 and it is snowing…. Absolutely despicable.

2 thoughts on “Author Adventures: Abandoning Projects

  1. AJ October 12, 2019 / 11:39 am

    Abandoning projects is always a tough call. I have several that are perma-shelved. I likely won’t work on them again, but they really did teach me a lot about writing.
    For the outline, you can also just do a brief overview, kind of like one of those rising action, climax, falling action charts from an English class. It might help you keep the pantser flexibility but give you the plotter stability.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. stevehillwriter October 12, 2019 / 1:25 pm

    I traveled around the world for three and a half years in my late 20s, writing a book along the way. It was never finished and it never will be. Not because it wasn’t very good but because it wasn’t my story to write: it was John Irving’s, a major influence on me then (still is, truth be told). Now, 20 years later, I’m writing something more true to me. That shelved, unfinished book got me here, though. In that sense, it might have been the most important thing I ever wrote.

    Liked by 1 person

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