I don’t know about you, but I have unfinished and/or failed to publish more pieces of writing than I have completed. In terms of writing, this is healthy. Necessary, even. Sometimes we need to test things out, to see if they will work. Sometimes we just need to get the words out, even if they never end up turning into anything publishable.
I don’t think we ever truly forget anything we have written – not even the small pieces; not the elements of our stories that stick with us for years after the fact. Even all the unfinished, unpublished pieces of writing we worked hard on but just couldn’t bring to completion still matter. At least, they do for me.
I am currently caught in a major writing sprint, trying to finish up Camp NaNoWriMo before the end of the day (procrastinator problems). It’s been awhile since I have worked on my own fiction, and as is usually the case, after spending only a few hours immersed in my story, I found myself consumed and addicted once again.
You realize things, when you’re so engrossed that you just let yourself write whatever comes to mind in as logical of a structure as possible. You realize that, when you stop holding things back, pieces of old stories, stories you wrote a long time ago, reappear in your new story. They are different; they are a different shape and appear in a different context; but they are familiar.
This has not happened to me in awhile, but as I give way to my creative energy, I realize I’ve seen this somewhere before. The girl whose best friend left behind her phone when she disappeared. The girl trapped in a facade. The romance that isn’t really a romance; just two people who figure out they understand each other’s pain in a way no one else can.
These are all events and themes I have used before, in past writings I either never finished or never got around to attempting to publish. They are old, outdated stories now, things I wrote when I was younger; I couldn’t return to them now even if I wanted to. But the small yet significant pieces left over from those writings stuck with me. And naturally, without thinking about it, they have somehow found a new story to belong in. Not at all forgotten; just transplanted, in a place they truly fit.
Everything you write is important. Everything. Because even if you don’t use it right away, even if it never ends up becoming something other people view as important, your creative mind knows the parts that need to be retold. It will store them. And it will uncover them when you least expect it, at just the right time, in just the right story.
Don’t force it. Don’t feel like it’s necessary. Just let it happen. The results are wondrous, and kind of awesome. Remember what you tried to write before, but couldn’t. Realize that your writer self has grown, and your ideas have developed, and your creativity is just as vibrant and purposeful as it has always been. It may have taken awhile for that small piece of a story idea to fully form, but it will. If you subconsciously believe it is important, it will come back to you.
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.
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