Welcome back everyone!
Today I want to talk a little bit about leaving writing pieces unfinished and revising your writing. These are two things I’ve struggled with a lot in the past (and still do!) so I thought it might be relevant to others as well. I also recently learned a lot about revision through my time in the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference. If you’re interested in learning more about my experience with these two issues, keep on reading!
I often have an idea for a poem or short story (or even novel if I’m feeling ambitious) that I will start to run with, get stuck, and just kind of leave there. There’s nothing wrong with this, and a lot of great lines or portions of pieces can come out of just putting pen to paper when you have an idea. However, it can be difficult to shape these half-pieces into something you like or something that’s actually meaningful.
In a way, I think having that time away from the piece is really important to preventing writer’s block. However, you want to make sure you don’t take too much time away from the piece to the point where you forget what you were actually thinking about or trying to say when you wrote it. Also, try to spend your time mulling over possible directions to take it once you come back and work on it again.
If you end up just abandoning a piece completely, that’s completely normal and totally fine. I just recommend looking it back over to see if there’s any sentences/lines or whole excerpts you think could be useful for other pieces you’re currently working on or something you might want to write in the future.
I always feel like I’m missing out on something or losing something if I don’t see a piece out to its end, but it’s important to refrain from pressuring yourself. You most likely won’t be happy with what you write if you’re putting pressure on yourself anyways. If a piece isn’t working for you, listen to your inner writing voice and don’t worry about leaving it behind. Like I already mentioned, you can always come back to it later if you’re inspired to do so.
As far as revision goes, I had no clue how to actually revise my work in an effective way until learning more about that in my writing workshop. I would always use spellcheck and edit my grammar as well as sometimes tweak a few words for the sake of diction, but I never knew how to really dig deep and take a piece further.
In the workshop, I learned it’s normal to go through tons of drafts in the revision process, and generate lots of new lines and content to see what sticks. It might take a few drafts to figure out what you’re really trying to say and what made you decide to start your piece. Sometimes we’re not ready to put that into words yet, and that’s when you might find it beneficial to step away from the piece a little bit.
These are just a couple things I learned as a result of my writing workshop and my personal experiences lately, but I hope they prove helpful to you as well. Let me know if you have any questions, and please feel free to leave feedback and/or post requests in the comments. Stay safe and healthy out there.