1. Mocheo Timo
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    Mocheo Timo Active Member

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    Abandoning your work

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mocheo Timo, Jul 2, 2015.

    It's actually less dramatic than it sounds.
    I have written a short story for a competition, and it is already done and I got feedback on it (I got 2nd place).
    I was suggested to revise the story, and I know how to.
    In fact, I've posted the story on this forum's workshop and got very helpful comments (It's on the Crime and Thriller section, if anyone is interested).

    All I've been working on recently is on trying to re-write the short story, but I don't feel very much into it as when I first wrote it. I'm not even into my main character anymore. So, yes, I'm considering abandoning my work.

    The term "abandoning" might not perfectly suit this case, as I might actually work on the story -who knows- years from now, but this thread is really about crumpling your work and throwing it into the nearest garbage can, or simply leaving it to dust.

    I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I have a very short experience with writing. I wrote nothing at all before two years ago (except the usual school stuff). Well, that has changed and now I'm crazy in love with writing. However, I do have a tendency to start with ideas, make a big show of them, and then simply forget everything and move on to something else (I've done this countless times).

    So, I'm worried that abandoning my short story now is simply a reflection of my usual nature of not persisting with ideas, and that if I do give a long break on it, I might be tempted to do that in any other work I begin with. To make matters worse, I'm itching to begin writing a novel! Yeah, I need help...

    Do writers usually start with many works, then simply pick one they like and work on them?
    Do they ever abandon any of their work for good?
     
  2. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I've been writing for a long-ass time and there's definitely stuff I've left behind. I think especially when you're starting out, you reach these points where you realize that your older ideas weren't that great, or your newer ones are just better, and that's perfectly natural. The older stuff still kinda floats around in my head and I'm like hey, maybe some day I'll pick this back up, but right now I wanna work on other stuff. Abandoned probably isn't the right word - I like to think of some things as 'backburner' projects, where it's sort of just back there simmering and I'll get to it when I get to it. Or not. It's cool.

    Though I will say, I definitely have more going on now that I used to. When I was younger I would focus on my One Big Perfect Idea. These days I find it more fun and and more realistic to diversify. Some stuff may never end up completed, but I'll've learned from working on it and it was fun while it lasted.
     
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  3. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    "Shelved" is the term you're looking for
     
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  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Yeah, just put it away for a bit and work on something else. Not like you're saying good-bye to it forever; and even if you were, that's still OK.
     
  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    And the subtly different "trunked" may also apply. I'd say you shelf it if you think you'll probably come back to it some day, you trunk it if it's probably done for good.

    I think it's important to be excited about what you're working on. But it's also important to make sure you're not just doing the fun parts of writing, the initial creation without the work of polishing and improving.

    If you're shelving or trunking one short story, I don't think it's a big deal. But if this turns into a pattern, and you find that you're never polishing anything, you may want to examine your goals. If you just want to have fun, do just the parts that are fun. Easy. But if you're shooting for publication, you're going to have to do some of the harder work at some point.
     
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  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Well when I shelf pieces they're really going into the folder of no return. Not good. I know the feeling of getting tired of a story but if you made plans for it I'm not sure setting it aside is really the best idea. I'm with BayView on this. I've been working on a novella Not Pink for months. It's tedious and frustrating. All that rereading and rewriting, and reworking and rearranging. But that's what writing is - it's never about those first words you put down. That's only part of it. Writing is all about rewriting.
    Might as well get in the habit now.
     
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  7. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Every writer is different, but one thing I would never suggest doing is abandoning or trashing your work. It may be good or bad, but it still may be years from now, the start of something new and awesome.

    In my case being the ultimate pantster, I have somewhere north of a hundred novels in various stages of writing. Some almost complete, some barely started. Each one started with a hiss, bang and a roar of inspiration and passion, and then that faded as I moved on to something else. But not one of those other books is trashe. They're all there, stored on my computer, and every so often I return to them. Sometimes I finish one off and publish a new book.

    Case in point, The Stars Betrayed which I just pubbed a month ago began life years ago and got forgotten about until maybe the start of this year. Now it's out there, selling and garnering good reviews.

    The Arcanist which is my next book out, I wrote four year ago and ended up leaving with maybe half a dozen chapters to write as I simply couldn't find out how to make them work in my head. Currently its with my editor for it's final edit and will be pubbed probably this month and I looks like being one of my proudest works.

    So yeah, shelve them, don't abandon them.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  8. Mocheo Timo
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    Mocheo Timo Active Member

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    All the commentaries were extremely helpful! It is great to receive advice from all kinds of writers, published and non-published alike, all the more reason why I enjoy being part of this forum.

    I know of the example of Mark Twain who wrote the famous classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 10 years, struggling to find ideas to continue Huck and Tom's adventure amid failures in his business as an inventor.

    It never occurred to me that writing is more about re-writing and persisting more than anything. Either way, I am determined to get published someday, so I will persist with my writing. About the short-story I mentioned earlier, let's just say I will shelf it for now. :)
     
  9. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    I don't think I could bring myself to bin a piece of work - especially after the effort that goes into it. Long-term shelving, perhaps, but binning? No. One day some of it may be useful - character traits, certain phraseology, working suspense, unusual plot lines.

    It's not as if old work takes up any space either, it's all 0's and 1's on a hard drive - unlike painting scraps or abandoned woodwork projects.
     
  10. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Consider this. Write that novel you're itching to write. After the first draft, when authors generally take a little breather time to get some distance from that novel, pull the short story in question out...go back and revise it, and make it the best it can be. Then do something with it...send it to magazines/ezines/anthologies, for example, and try to get it published. With the way things are today, self-publishing the short may be an option too.

    Then go back and finish that novel.

    In answer to your questions...it depends on the writer as to how they select works they intend to focus on. I have a file of ideas that I can revert to. My publisher also has suggestions on what to work on next, and readers sometimes cajole me, but it's also what I'm ready to write.

    As far as 'abandoning' works? Yes, some writers put stories and novels in an 'electronic' drawer and never work on them again.

    I can only encourage to you to focus and finish what you start. Completing a project, start to finish is a positive experience, one from which you can learn a lot about writing and about yourself, and also improve you skills as a writer, and potential for added success as an author (however you might want to measure 'success').

    Good luck moving forward.
     
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  11. Masked Mole
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    Masked Mole Contributing Member

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    I don't really shelve things at all. If I think it's good, I keep working on it. If it's bad, I cast it into the fires of Mount Doom and curse its name. My bad ideas for books have a graveyard somewhere. No one wants to pay their respects, however.
     
  12. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since you've already entered it into a contest and won 2nd prize, I wouldn't sweat it really... unless it was a first draft. If that's the case, dig into the rewrites just to build good habits. As peachalulu said, writing is rewriting (and I think that's a quote from someone like Hemmingway or King).

    As for abandoning a writing project, Stephen King said (and I may be paraphrasing): finish everything you start. I take a rather liberal view on this, though. I take it to mean: Now that I've read this sage advice, I will finish everything I start from now on. I refuse to go back and pick up the pieces of broken novels I left lying in the ditch over the last 30 years. :)
     
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