I’ve Told You Not to Do This. Here’s Why I Just Did It Anyway.

Aren’t we all just trying our best, even when we fail?

I’ve warned you more than once.

I’ve written about it more times than I can count.

As writers, we’re all exposed to at least one common temptation — the seemingly inevitable urge to start something new when we have yet to finish something old.

I’ve told you not to do it.

But I’ve done it anyway.

I’ve gone against my own advice, thrown out the tactics I knew would help me refrain, torn through every roadblock in my mind begging me to go no further.

Last weekend, I started writing another book. Even though, technically, I already have three in progress.

I spent 45 glorious minutes writing the opening scene to the weirdest story I’ve ever tried writing. And it was amazing. And the worst thing I could have done.

Why? Why did I do what I’ve specifically told you never to do?

The answer is simple: I am not perfect.

I don’t always practice what I preach. I do — 99 percent of the time.

But I feel it’s important to be honest about how this whole writing thing works.

Even people like me, who have been doing this for years, mess up. Do and say the wrong things. Don’t follow directions. Set terrible examples.

It doesn’t make me a bad writer or mean you can’t trust me. It makes me human, just like you.

What would any of my words matter, anyway, if you couldn’t relate to them? Most of this blog involves me taking my personal experiences as a writer and using them to remind you that we’re all in this together. We’re all just stumbling through our own creative endeavors, trying to figure it all out.

But there’s something else you should know.

Ever since I spent those very exhilarating 45 minutes on that new book, I haven’t touched it again.

I may have indulged in a temptation I was sure I could not refuse. But I came to my senses, and I turned away.

Almost as if all I needed was to get it out of my system, so that I could return to Creativity As Usual.

This does not mean I did not do an unadvisable thing. I will continue to remind you not to project-hop unless you’re 100 percent sure it’s the best move for you and the future of your work.

It’s a bad thing. It’s one of the reasons so many aspiring writers can’t finish what they start.

I wish I hadn’t done it. But the truth is, you can’t look back on your mistakes and spend every precious moment regretting it all. You have to pick yourself up. Keep moving forward. Use your past as a force to drive you forward, instead of a weight that holds you back.

I’m sorry I’m not perfect. I know, on the outside, it seems like many writers are.

They’re not. They’re people, too. They’re just trying their best. Aren’t we all?

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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5 thoughts on “I’ve Told You Not to Do This. Here’s Why I Just Did It Anyway.

  1. I agree that starting a new project while the previous one is still under construction is super wrong for a writer but I guess, it’s sometimes inevitable and our creative ideas find their way to crush all our resolutions of sticking to a single WIP.

    I have been working on my main WIP since 2016 but have recently switched my focus to a novella I’ve got an amazing idea for…I know I’m guilty but like you said, sometimes we should stop regretting and keep going. :)

    Of the entire post, one thing intrigued me the most: [the weirdest story I’ve ever tried writing.] Haha, I would love to know what it is that you’re cooking but oh well, some things are best when kept a secret :D

    1. I hope to be able to share the premise with all of you at some point, haha. Another thing to keep in mind when you’ve been working on something for a long time is that it’s definitely possible to “grow out of” a story. I’d been working on something for about 3 years that I started writing to help me deal with a personal loss, but by the time I’d gotten 3/4 of the way through it, I’d already made peace with it. I had to decide whether or not I could continue writing it for others, or accept that I’d needed it for myself, but no longer needed it anymore. It’s not the end of the world, but ultimately, it’s about what you think is the best choice for you. :)

  2. This made me laugh so much because I relate wholeheartedly. I have 6 WIP and I feel the shame every time they look at me!

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