Lessons learned from false starts

unfinished puzzlesWe are all parts of various communities. The ones we physically live in. Our extended family is a community. You are part of an academic discipline which is an important group, as is where you work.

As a writer (even a beginner), you are part of a community. I do worry sometimes, that the writing community is made up a large group of individuals each on their own island. Each of us may be experiencing the same challenges and be suffering them in silence as we try to solve own our issues. Groups like TAA and this blog help address challenges. How do you create a writing schedule and stick to it? How do you approach revising your own work? When is your project “done” and ready for submission?

One issue that we all face but rarely discuss is projects that get started but never completed. Many people are embarrassed to say they started a project (research or writing) and then let it languish. First, I do not know a writer this is not true for. Look at the number of famous writers that have had posthumous “work” published by their heirs. Everyone has that bottom drawer in their desk, whether literal or figurative, or projects that are “percolating.”

Accept this fact as part of the process. If you told people about the project and when they ask its status, you have to tell them it is in the deep freeze, or you are ruminating on it, or it is marinating, or you have moved on, or…. Do not be embarrassed. It is part of the overall process!

No effort is wasted, even if the project has been deemed a no go. All these efforts, whether just an idea, notes, a few pages written, or a lot of work done, are worthwhile in the end. Why? They have provided you valuable experience as a writer, author, and researcher. You are better for having made the initial efforts. More time and grade.

These efforts are you exercising your muscles. Most people do not start out running a marathon. They need some practice and that is what these efforts are or were. Also, likely you have shown your discerning nature. Not all starts should be completed. Perhaps the project was not going in the direction you anticipated, the results were not as expected, or it did not maintain your level of interest. Whatever the reason, you have moved on. The project is there. You can always come back to it, perhaps with a new perspective or increased vigor.

These unfinished efforts have given you ground to build new projects on. Whether that ground is you as a more experienced writer, or a more discerning one, or more knowledgeable, this new “you” is better for it.

Needless to say, if you only start and never finish, that is a different issue. But do not be discouraged over projects parked by the wayside. It happens. Move on, guilt free.

And do not suffer on your island in silence. When you have writing challenges, network or reach out to others. Make maximal use of TAA. You will likely find we are all experiencing many of the same issues on our own islands. I would love to hear from you.


John BondJohn Bond is a publishing consultant at Riverwinds Consulting. He works with individuals on publishing and writing projects. Schedule an initial complimentary phone call at Publishing Fundamentals. In his career, he has directed the publishing of over 500 book titles and 20,000 journal articles. He is the host of the YouTube channel “Publishing Defined.”Contact him at jbond@riverwindsconsulting.com.