“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” —Philip Roth
How many of us have something that is still “in progress” but is going nowhere? There’s that novel we started all those long years ago, but which we can never seem to find the time for. There may be a short story we’ve been planning to pen, but it’s never gotten past the stage of “story concept”.
I’ve had some of my writing friends tell me, “I’m in the middle of three or four different WIPs (works-in-progress), and I can’t dedicate enough time to any of them!”
Of course you can’t find enough time! A work-in-progress is very similar to a child. It’s something you love dearly, you want to spend as much time on it as possible, and it consumes every spare thought. Basically, it demands as much time as a child does.
So, if you’re spending all of your time on one “child”, how could you have any MORE time to spare for a second, third, or fourth?
What is it that stops us from finishing what we’ve started? I’m currently in the middle of only two projects: the one that is occupying all of my time, and the one that I’m putting off writing. Do you know why I’m putting off writing that second one? It’s because I’m scared!
That’s right: I’m terrified of making progress on that second WIP because I’m afraid that it’s not going to be as good as it could be. It started out with an idea so genius and brilliant that the first “chapter” came ripping out of me. I had to stop driving, pull over to the side of the road, and take the time to write things down before I lost that creative genius. The chapter basically wrote itself, all I had to do was type.
But now, the creative flow is no longer there. I’m worried that when I pick up that pen again, it’s just not going to come out as good as the first chapter did. The quality is going to slip, the story is going to suck, and it’s going to flop.
I’m going to face my fears in a few weeks when I finish my current WIP, and I’m going to pick up that pen on that second WIP and hammer out some more. I’m going to swallow that anxiety that my book isn’t going to be as good as it could be, and I’m going to ignore that nagging side of my mind that tells me “Oh, this sucks!”
Fear may be what’s holding me back from making progress on this WIP, but what’s holding you back? Why wouldn’t you finish one thing before moving on to the next? My friends and fellow writers, finish what you’ve started!