If you’ve been writing for any length of time,then you’re probably like me: You have different projects in various stages of completion languishing in your files, in piles, and on your computer.
No surprise there. We creatives, whatever our field of play, are constantly coming up with new ideas. Some of them we take all the way to completion and others, for whatever reason, remain only partly finished. Or the project is finished, but we’re not sure how to proceed and where to submit it, so we put it on a back burner.
If this is true for you, take heart! My experience may prove helpful:
Recently, I refreshed a story I was very attached to, but had set aside and almost forgotten about. But when the timing for it seemed right, after many years, I pulled it out, revised it, and found it immensely satisfying to see it published in “American Heritage.”
Now, another opportunity to revisit and revise has come my way. This time, it’s the chance to submit a play I worked on intensely quite a while ago and then set aside.
Here’s what I’m learning about old, but valued, projects:
Keep copies: It’s a good idea to keep your various drafts together in one file. Different versions of my play were scattered around on my computer. Gathering and comparing them took extra time.
Timing is all: We can be ahead of the curve in crafting pieces that matter to us. Happily, with targeted revisions, they can prove timely, relevant, and surprisingly durable.
Knowing more helps: My play is going through a major revision right now. Having lots of time away from it made both its strengths and flaws very apparent. I know much more than I did back when I was working on it. My cuts are better, my dramatic moments punchier, and my vision of where I want it to go is stronger. All this is great!
Rescue missions are super satisfying: It’s been very exciting to discover that work I created quite a while ago still feels worthy of being out in the world. It’s also energizing to put it back in play. “You have to be in it to win it”—that lottery slogan is true. Unfinished work goes nowhere.
If you do have work you once loved but put aside for whatever reason, I hope this will inspire you to dust it off and take a look at it with fresh eyes. You might be surprised at how far you took it and how far you’ve come. Write on!