Is Starting Something You Might Not Finish Really Such a Bad Thing?

Maybe this is a sign you’re on the right track.

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It happened again.

You started a new writing project, SO SURE that “this” was The One. The one you’d finish. The one you’d grow to love and cherish. Maybe even the one you’d try to get published.

But then it hit you: a new idea. Something better. Brighter. Bigger. And you made the choice to abandon the project you thought was The One for This One instead.

Why do you keep doing that?

Maybe that’s not the right question. Maybe the question you should be asking yourself instead is: Is it really such a bad thing?

Many of us start things and don’t finish them. Jump from thing to thing, looking for something that will captivate, motivate, and inspire us.

I don’t think this is a sign of anything too terrible in most people. Sure, you might have issues related to attention — I suppose there are plenty of reasons people consistently start something new only to abandon it for something seemingly better not too long after.

But let me ask you this: How do you learn what you’re interested in, what captivates you, where your heart and attention and effort truly belong, unless you try a bunch of different things?

As we mature both in age and as creatives, we cycle through a variety of interests and potential skill sets as we learn what we’re good at and what we like. How we can best use our talents and skills. Which ones we want to spend the most time developing.

There’s no way you could possibly make a lifelong commitment to everything you try. That’s why it’s called trying. Maybe we should start calling it “experimenting” instead.

After all, why do scientists do experiments? To figure out what works and what doesn’t. What makes your creative journey any different?

It’s going to be more beneficial to you in the long run if you try a dozen different projects and only end up finishing one of them than if you kept trying to finish one that wasn’t meant to be.

If you start something, and it doesn’t feel right, or you honestly can’t see any benefit in continuing, you don’t have to. And if you constantly jump from one project to the next and can’t seem to grab hold of anything, there might be something else going on that’s hindering your focus.

Take care of whatever that might be before you beat yourself up about not being a finisher. It’s not always your fault, or under your complete control.

Try as many things as you need to in order to find your “thing.”

Who knows? All those unfinished projects might not be a total waste of time after 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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3 thoughts on “Is Starting Something You Might Not Finish Really Such a Bad Thing?

    1. You’re so welcome! Wow, that’s pretty cool. I’ve also discovered that sometimes, even if one thing doesn’t work out, a piece of it still ends up in a different project, and it works much better there than in its original home. :)

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