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Why Your Abandoned Project Was Still Worth It

July 2nd, 2013 Matt Leave a comment Go to comments
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After last week’s list of reasons to abandon your project, I thought I should share some ways that your project was not a complete waste of time!

Every project holds some value. As writers, we grow just as much (if not moreso) with every failure as we do success.

I have already spoken about my example abandoned project and how it enabled me to get writing in the first place and create some kind of routine – it was proof that writing could fit in to my life – what could e more valuable?

Why your trunked project was not a waste of time

And so on to the list. Here are some things you might have got out of a project, even if you did abandon it.


Each abandoned page represents a lesson! Image courtesy of Sharon Drummond on Flickr.

  • Developing your process Writing is not easy, and a huge part of that is getting your routine right. Establishing a process that works for you is a constant endeavour. It is something that is subtly moulded with every project you undertake, no matter how far you made it through.

  • Know what it feels like to work on something For those of us starting out, or trying something new simply knowing what it feels like to create a specific something or to finish it can be invaluable. For the first-time novel writer, finishing a first draft is a big deal. If that novel goes no further than that, it does not diminish the magnitude of that accomplishment.

  • The idea might return later in some way You’ve had an idea, you’ve developed it, it didn’t work out. That doesn’t necessarily mean the initial idea was bad. And even if it was, some aspect of it may surface in a later piece.

    trunked projects

    Trunked does not mean useless. Image courtesy of Newsum Antiques on Flickr.

  • You found out what didn’t work Sometimes that’s half the battle. Failing can be like making a shortcut – you know which roads not to go down.

  • A character might come out of it that you can use again Maybe the story itself was naff, but the protagonist developed quite nicely. Why not make another story based around that character? This point can be spun many different ways too – what about the location, that unusual weapon etc. what people, places or objects did you enjoy from your story?

  • Might inspire a different idea Inspiration comes from the strangest places, often out of the blue. It might be that beyond the ideas above, a new, seemingly unrelated idea may sprang forth whilst you were working on your ill-fated project.

  • You may still come back to it Maybe the time just wasn’t right for this one, or perhaps it was you who was not right. In any case, keep your “failure” (there are no failures, only lessons). One day, rifling through a drawer, you may come across it and realise it still has potential. You never know.

Over to you:
Feeling bad about an unfinished story? Set aside your guilt and consider what you learned. Then tell us all about it in the comments, please!