Monday, July 28, 2008

Writing Projects Not Finished or Never Started

Just over a week ago I posted Tolkien’s quote about things not started taking the longest to finish. As examples I posted a few of my own projects that are on my “not finished” list that honesty forced me to own up had never been truly started. Well, while assembling that list I managed to skim right over writing projects I haven’t finished or even started.

How did that happen? The writing projects I haven’t finished, most of them never started, are the non-assignment projects of the heart. So why don’t I just do them? Well, that’s why we’re all here isn’t it. Whether we have writing projects, or art projects, or redecorating projects, or get a better job projects; the core reasons we don’t finish and often never start are roughly the same – fear. The drop-dead heart of the matter is fear.

What are some of my fears? Fear about what my insides want to say. Fear about it being good enough. Fear that even when it is good that it will get picked to pieces by people who don’t know me but are intent on explaining what they think I’m saying (and most of them don’t even know what they’re saying). Fear of the perception that I’m trying to improve my station. Fear that I might actually be right about my life. Fear that I’ll pick the wrong project to invest in.

Maybe not everybody who comes here is trying to break into writing; but many, if not most, are looking to change life paths. The reasons and what motivates their quest vary widely but many readers are looking for a safe place to read about and think about stepping off the conveyor belt and take their life in a different direction while they still have some modicum of locomotive power.

One of the things we all hope will show up along the way is our courage. Actually we hope our fear will be replaced by courage. The truth is they co-exist and we learn how to navigate while managing both. Naomi at IttyBiz wrote a whole post on fear and being scared that I’m not going to waste my time trying to top to go read it (warning for language if you are very sensitive). Dealing with fear is a barrier but far too often we let it become an excuse to never start, a cleverly disguised excuse but nonetheless an excuse.

So what writing projects have I not finished, never started:

- A collection of sketches from my trip abroad

- An historical biographical sketch of a relatively unknown wife of a famous, infamous, notorious historical figure

- A pseudo short story I have pieces of laying around in different folders and notebooks

- A different short story based on a house in a village I once lived in (the village not the house)

- I’d like to write a serial for the paper

- Possibly repurpose last year’s NaNo manuscript, but not sure how

- I have a project I think about locally to combine photography and history and writing

So my own assignment for the near term is to get started and finish one of these projects. What’s a project on your list that you can start working on and finish in the next 30 days or by Christmas Eve or 12 months from now? Finished does not mean sold or in print, partly because it may not be a writing or art project. Finished means we complete all the parts we identified that belonged to the project.


Margaret Cloud said...

You have an impressive list to conquer and all I can say is good luck with it, and thank you for visiting my blog site.

Melissa Donovan said...

When it comes to writing and career, fear isn't really an obstacle for me. My biggest challenge is finding time to do everything I want to do. Don't get me wrong -- fear gets in the way, but with other areas of life!

Sven Schöne said...

I have to agree with Melissa: Over the years I have started to really get over my fears of not starting projects. Problem now is, that I have too many ideas that I want to realize (just like you), but the time is so short I couldn't possibly do everything I want in ten years.

Some things I want to do?
- Learn some more programming languages (especially FLASH right now)
- I have several projects for very nice websites in my mind that I cannot elaborate on here now.
- A lot of more stuff which cannot be put under "projects you want to achieve" but rather misc stuff I don't have the time for: Regularly working out, reading a lot more books, watching more DVDs, doing more with friends... More time for me!

Anyway, I agree with you that fear is a stopping-factor for a lot of people. Fear is so stupid sometimes, I really hate it! ;)

Sven S.

G's Cottage said...

@Margaret - Thanks, I keep dancing as fast as I can. I enjoy reading your vignettes you have a broad perspective on life.

@Melissa - Well, I think you have probably figured out that fear in my life is rather akin to the dreaded goon in "The Princess Bride."

@SvenS - Welcome. I checked out your landing page and I hope you will finish building your site as it looks very interesting. One of my hopes is that this site becomes a safe place for people starting over to be okay with their fears and find the path to move beyond them.