Did you know Novelty Revisions isn’t my only blog? It’s now my primary focus and what I spend the majority of my blogging time on, but it isn’t the only one I’ve ever tried to start. There’s a ‘secret’ second blog out there somewhere from a few years ago that has since been abandoned.
Do I feel bad about leaving it behind? Sometimes. I am a starter and a finisher; admitting there are projects I’ve walked away from isn’t easy. But we all have them, and I don’t want you to ever feel like a failure because of those side projects that never took off.
You learn something from every single writing project that doesn’t come to form. These lessons are worth it – I promise.
You’ll regret the ideas you never try to bring to life
I am a healthy cross between an idea hoarder and a spontaneous creator. I have 15 titles for future blog posts sitting in a folder at any given point in time but have started two new projects on the fly already this year. Often writers fall into either one extreme or the other, especially in the beginning. Their downfall is usually the follow-through for both extremes: you either try to start too many things and can never settle on finishing one, or you keep trying to start something and just never get around to it.
My philosophy is that ideas are meant to be worked out. Either you start developing the details – writing, logistics, pricing, whatever you need to figure out before you can actually turn it into something – and realize it’s something you can actually run with, or you realize it isn’t going to work and have at least some closure after you put it to rest. But ideas that just sit in your head or in your drafts folder aren’t doing you any good. I sat with my blog idea for a few weeks, rushed into making it happen and realized I couldn’t give it the time and effort it needed to work. But for the most part, I was just glad I’d started it at all.
The only way to fail is to never give your ideas a chance
I never thought my blog would “fail.” On the days I actually bothered to post, my site got decent traffic. People liked it and wanted more. I just couldn’t give them what they wanted. The failure came not from the content but from the creator. I couldn’t deliver and so I stopped stressing myself out trying to make it happen when I really couldn’t. Sometimes these are decisions you have to make. I decided that mediocre, infrequent content wasn’t fair to the audience. I chose to stop – and I still consider it a successful learning experience more so than I think of it as a failure.
A tried and failed idea is better than an idea that never gets the chance to grow. If you only knew how many abandoned blogs, novels, TV pilots, etc. were out there in the world unfinished or dropped for a multitude of reasons. You’re going to start things you realize halfway through aren’t worth finishing. You’re going to finish things and realize you don’t want to polish enough to move them on to the next step. What matters is that you give your ideas life. Not every idea is going to turn out. That’s just part of the creative process.
Sometimes you need to figure out whether you really want to write about something or not
I’m never going to make a career out of creating recipes. Not because I can’t do it, but because I don’t really want to. I wouldn’t have come to that conclusion if I hadn’t tried to create and keep up with a recipe blog. The idea was fun and it made me excited. In the earliest stages of building something tangible out of an idea, one of the strongest driving forces for your productivity is enthusiasm. You want to create this thing so much that you do whatever you have to do to make it happen.
Sometimes the result of that enthusiasm, that initial effort, is that you realize your idea isn’t actually something you can or want to spend all your time and energy on. And that’s okay. I would love to bring that blog back to life. I would love to recruit people to help me make that happen. I would even settle for passing it along to someone who I know would take care of it. But I’ve never officially made that promise to myself. If the desire isn’t there, does the idea in its full form really need to be? That’s why we have to try. Those answers don’t come until we’re able to find them ourselves, through experience.
Every once in awhile, I’ll feel guilty about leaving my second blog to fend for itself. That’s not something I usually do with projects. But I would have been much more upset if I had never tried. I have a much clearer picture of which direction I do and don’t want to go with a potential new blog (coming 2017? I can’t say for sure). But I have one attempt behind me. I’m better off having had that experience. You learn so much from the projects that don’t make it. That’s why you need to take a chance. Just try. It might not work out, it might not be the right time or you might not be the right person for that specific thing. But you could be. How else will you ever find out which?
Do you have any ‘secret’ abandoned projects floating around out there? Are you glad you moved on? What did you learn?
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.