On Tuesday night I had the amazing experience of helping my roommate interview one of our favorite bands (still reeling from the concert, but that's a story for a different time). While asking questions, I thought I'd get a musician's point of view on something that writers go through all the time:
If you're writing something (song or book), and you fizzle out halfway through and lose inspiration, do you trudge through it to finish, or stop and put it on the back-burner?
The answer I got back was: "If you're halfway through something and you hate it, and your heart isn't in it, why force yourself to finish something that's going to be half-assed?"
Now in the writing world, this can be taken more than a few ways.
If somebody comes to me and tells me that they're stuck, I have another question for them: are they just blocked, or have they completely lost the spark? If you're just stuck, then it's easy to get around that and keep moving, even if it means skipping the scene you're stuck at and moving on.
What about when you lose the spark, though? That passion you felt for a particular manuscript is gone. In that case, I have a message:
It's okay to stop writing it.
I have countless manuscripts and novel ideas sitting abandoned with word counts as high as 55 k. That's a lot of words, right? The problem was, though, that I really wasn't feeling it. I wasn't as connected to it as I previously was, and in that case I say that it's okay to put it aside for a bit of time, move on to something else, and wait and see if maybe that spark comes back.
Isn't it more worth it to write something that you're attached to, and remain attached to the entire way? Because, face it, if you don't want to write it, your reader won't want to read it. If you're not putting your full effort into writing, then why should you expect somebody to read something that even you don't particularly care about?
Dead Drafts are okay. They happen. I have more than I could possibly count, and yes they occasionally come back to haunt me. Yet the ideas that I have gone forward with are the ones that I've consistently cared about enough to not abandon them a single time.
Those abandoned ideas and manuscripts? Think of them as practice. You're writing, and that's the most important part. You don't have to completely finish every idea that comes across your desk, but even if you just give it a few thousand words it means you're practicing for that one "perfect" idea, and you never know what idea that will be until you start writing it and gauge it for yourself.
Every writer has those manuscripts that nobody ever sees. Sometimes you'll come back to them later, sometimes they'll fade away. Just remember that whatever you're working on needs to be something that you put your all into.
What are your thoughts?