Haunted by Unfinished Projects? Fight Back
Do you have unfinished projects niggling at your mind, calling on you to finish them, crying out that they have been abandoned unfairly, and inspiring guilt?
If you do, you have a problem. You need to finish those projects or banish them and throw out the guilty feelings.
I generate a lot of unfinished projects. I need to dig into a project before I know if it is worth finishing. Sometimes, three pages of writing is enough for me to see if an idea has enough power to justify development. Sometimes, it takes longer. In either case, I explore many more projects than I finish.
For projects that I explore but chose not to pursue for conscious reasons putting them aside has no downside. I can just set them to rest.
For these projects, I use a variation of The Scanner′s Finnish described by Barbara Sher in her book Refuse to Choose. The Scanner′s Finnish involves gathering up all the parts of the project, wrapping them up, and labelling them with the project, the original goal of the project, the stage at which the project was stopped, and next steps should the project ever be picked up again. My variation is simply to put everything in a box or a binder and put it away. If I know I am abandoning a particular project for good reason, I have no issues about letting it go.
But, there are projects that get dropped and haunt me. What about them?
I know that if they are haunting me, there is something truly unfinished about them and I must find a way to finish them.
I have three projects that are haunting me at the moment:
- a play I was collaborating on, but the collaboration fell apart
- a play retelling Jean Racine′s Phaedra from Phaedra′s perspective
- a horror novel involving a take on vampires that harkens back to early myths
Each of these was begun years ago, each was dropped for reasons that had more to do with my lack of discipline than with anything intrinsic to the project, and each was founded on ideas that still appeal to me. These projects haunt me.
And I am fighting back.
These three projects are all optional now. Working on them is unnecessary creating in the words of Todd Henry of Accidental Creative.
I am busy at the moment, so I need some pressure to force myself to make time for unnecessary creating in my day. Spurred on by some friends, I have taken up a new challenge: Script Frenzy. Script Frenzy is the April script writing challenge issued by the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo every September. The Script Frenzy challenge is 100 pages in 30 days. I don′t expect to meet that goal. My personal goal for April is to get a bad first draft of at least one of those unfinished plays written.
Strangely enough, now that I am writing this play again, I am excited to work on it. The guilt is gone. Finishing this draft should keep this demon at bay. Then, it will be on to revision to banish it for good.
Do you have unfinished projects haunting you? How do you banish those demons?