This post is for writers like me that write a lot and shelve a lot.
Some writers I know rarely give up on a story and stay with it until the bitter end.
Sadly I am not one of these writers.
Underneath my writing desk I have boxes of notebooks filled with half finished, shelved stories and in my old computer files I have more of the same. If someone gave me a pound for every shelved story I have i would be very rich 😂
I used to cringe when I read them and I used to beat myself up for not persisting with a story which didn’t work.
I am a changed writer now and I see things very differently.
Things you must never do with your old stories which didn’t work out:
- Delete them.
- Throw them out if they’re stored in a notebook.
- Cringe or get embarrassed about them.
You need to view your old shelved finished or half finished stories differently.
Start to view your shelved stories as jigsaw pieces which can be broken up.
These are special jigsaw pieces because you can break them up and re-fit them into your current project.
Now, before you start this I need you to make a copy of your shelved story. This is your insurance policy in case you wake up in ten years time and shriek, “I know how to fix that story I wrote which didn’t work!” Trust me – this happens to me a lot. Promise me – you will do this?
Since I started viewing my shelved stories differently – magic has happened!
I have said this a million times before but weird things happen when you become a writer. I have lost count of the odd things that have happened to me over the years. I strongly believe I have spent the last six years writing bits of stories for a future me to work out how they fit together.
When I am stuck on a part of a story I now think about what I have written in the past and shelved.
My shelved stories are like a box of broken up jigsaw pieces. I have character shaped pieces, setting pieces, fragments of good dialogue and story pieces.
Buried within my shelved stories are the missing pieces of a story I am working on. On my current project I have used:
– the setting from a story I wrote in 2016.
– a character from an old romcom I wrote in 2017.
– a story thread from a half finished story I wrote in 2018.
Lately all my jigsaw pieces from the past have fitted with ease into my current project. It really does feel like magic is at work. Or somehow I did write all of these bits for a future me *scratches head and looks confused*
So, stop cringing when you think of those old, shelved stories you can’t even bear to look at let alone read. Start seeing those stories as jigsaw pieces. All you need to do is work out which bits you are missing.
Ask yourself when you become stuck on a project – is the answer hidden within my old projects?
Years ago did you stick that story in your shelved folder and think, ‘one day the future me will know what to do with that.”
I hoping that this post helps someone out there who is struggling with their story.
Have a good day.