Esther Velez

write more. write better

Your Worst Story Is Probably Your Best

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I was recently going through my old files, and the first thing I noticed was the sheer amount of stories that I have created.

They were poorly written, didn’t make any sense, and probably didn’t get past a few pages.

Every time I came across them, I was just reminded of the fact that I’m an incompletionist: I start things, but I never complete them.

Something was different about this time, though.

When I sat down and sifted through folders and folders (and folders) of stories, I started thinking about all the stories I did finish.

Stories like “Killing Hanrue”, which started out as a story about a girl digging up graves and turned into the diary of a religious assassin.

Or stories like “Ms. Kerri”, which was originally about a king who kills his own son. Don’t ask me how it ended up being a story about a girl and her relationship with her brother – I still have no idea.

Or even one of my favorite stories, “The Wall”, which was much longer and involved the main character’s exploits into the world of business.

What do all of these things have common? (Other than showing that I don’t listen to the old “write what you know” rule? I mean, assassins? Kings? Businessmen? Gravediggers?)

It’s pretty simple:[/fusion_text][title size=”1″ content_align=”left” style_type=”none” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]The real story was buried beneath a false start.[/title][fusion_text]In each of these stories, I had to abandon the initial idea, keep some of the same concepts, and start again. What seemed like an unfinished product was actually the launching pad for the next one. I used what I had learned, took the ideas I liked, then moved on to the next project.

Now, there are going to be some ideas that you can’t salvage. And that’s okay.

You might have to do like I did and dump all the old stuff in a giant garbage bag. You might have to start from nothing, but that’s the good thing about having an imagination: you can never really lose the ability to make up a new story.

Or write a new song. Or start a new painting.

Start projects, abandon them if you have to, learn from what you left behind, start again.

So. What do your unfinished projects say about you? That you start but never finish? Or that you keep starting until you find the idea worth finishing?

Can you turn your worst story into your best? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

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2 Comments

  1. I know how it feels to start something and end up with something completely different . I made a game, rather, began making one, turned it into a story and then decided I would make a serial based on the character’s childhood. All three of these stories I haven’t nearly completed. Or most of the songs I’ve written.

    Good post, I had no idea that Ms. Kerri, a phenomenal story, began as a king killing his son. Keep writing and finish your stories!

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