Is It OK to Put a Writing Project On Hold?

Is “not now” OK?

Like any other writer Just Trying to Do a Thing I Like, I have a lot of struggles and setbacks. Coming up with new ideas is not one of those problems.

This in itself, however, becomes its own problem. Because while I’m fortunate enough to have taken on plenty of work over the past month, and I’m extremely grateful for that, there are a number of projects I wanted to kickstart this year that I’m not sure I’m going to be able to follow through with now.

A writing course is still in the works — don’t worry about missing out on that. But I had other ideas, too. A few video projects. A new blog. A few ebooks, maybe.

But as much as I would love to be able to take all that on before summer starts … I don’t think I can.

Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past four years, it’s that I would work 24/7 if my body let me. But that’s not possible. I tried once. I’d rather not recount the results in detail at this time.

The project I’m most upset about not being able to start is my second blog. I had planned on launching it at the beginning of this month, but it’s nowhere near ready. It’s just one of those situations where things popped up that took priority over preparing for even a soft launch, and I can’t afford to set aside bigger priorities just to make that happen. Yet, at least.

We’ve all gone through something like this. You get caught up in the philosophy that “if you don’t start now, you never will.” But life happens. Things really do just get in the way, and you’re not always in complete control of how they affect other parts of your life.

I like the idea behind that motivational concept — some people really need to be reminded that their excuses are ridiculous and they have no reason not to start working on something they’ve been dreaming about. I am the frontrunner in the fear of missed opportunity movement.

But I don’t think the same “rules” apply if you’re actively prioritizing your responsibilities as a human being. It’s one thing if you’re just wandering around not willing to put in the work to Make Something Happen. It’s completely different when you have a collection of good ideas and know you just can’t work on all of them as soon as you’d like.

I know that if I tried working on all these projects right now — on top of my new job, and taking a class, and moving — I wouldn’t be able to give them the time and energy they deserved. You can’t give 100 percent to 20 different projects simultaneously. You won’t do your best work. Someone is going to be disappointed, and you’re going to get mad at yourself for not doing your best.

It’s OK to put a project on hold, to say, “Yes, this is happening, but not right this second.” However, I also think it’s important to set a “start” or “resume” date for yourself. I have in my head the day my class ends, and that’s when I want to start working on my second blog again. It’s not that I’m avoiding it. I just have too much going on over the next four weeks.

Don’t make excuses; make plans. Say, “Not today, but on May 2.” Not “when I get my life together.” Because let’s be honest. None of us are ever going to have everything together enough. Successful writers work despite their lives being a mess. It’s what makes their writing so much more genuine and relatable.

No, not today. But soon. And I can’t wait.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-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.