Here’s the scenario. You’ve started writing on that short story or novel, and you’ve completed a great deal of work. You keep on writing along until “BAM!” You’ve hit a dead end. You sit there for a few minutes, or maybe hours, staring at what you have and eventually realize that either the story is not recoverable from where it’s gone. Or, perhaps you’ve just lost interest in the story itself and don’t feel like forcing your way through it.
Some would be satisfied with trudging through just to complete it. But in my opinion forced work makes weak work. You have to be invested in it.
And I am definitely not saying to send off your hard work on a raft in the middle of a lake and set it ablaze like a Viking funeral. For you dramatic types, I know that’s how you feel sometimes.
When you’ve amassed some good work, simply put it away for safe keeping. If you’ve created a dynamic character or weaved a plot so cool that it kills you to bury it, it’s a crime to bury that six feet under. Time to become a Text Hoarder!
“Text Hoarding” as I call it is when you take work that you’ve either put in lots of time but just can’t see around getting it done, or simple ideas and scribbling that have nothing to do with what you’re currently working on but just can’t bear to let them go, and just file them away. You know, like rainy day savings. Later, it allows you to repurpose that creativity that you put so much of yourself into. We’ve all caught ourselves holding on to something, be it an item or part of something else, and saying we were going to get some good use out of it later. Recycling doesn’t have to be for paper and plastic anymore. And there’s no harm in it, as long as you don’t reuse the same text multiple times that is.
Now, don’t me wrong. I’m not asking you to do anything like collecting newspapers dating back from the early 60’s and walling yourself up with them like you see on the T.V. In today’s era of computers and digital word processors, we don’t have to worry about paper clogging up every little free space we have. All of our work can fit on a tiny USB flash drive. And as technology gets more advanced, memory sizes and its costs go down. So keeping all of that unfinished text doesn’t have to take any physical room. It’s all “1’s” and “0’s.”
I myself have a folder on my laptop with half-a-dozen unfinished short stories or just word documents of random inspiration I couldn’t let go to waste. I even have a black leather bound journal that I carry around with me just in case I get a great idea or overhear a snippet of conversation that I simply must write down at that moment. I can’t always trust my short-term memory on ideas, so best to get them down A.S.A.P. I’ve used a couple of those writings so far, so in my opinion it’s already paying dividends.
So really, hoarding can be a good thing. It may be a month, a year, or a few years till you get the chance to give a second life to that work, but it will be there waiting for you in its creative cryogenic slumber.
We all hate to waste something so good (like a piece of pie). So put it in that fridge called memory till you are ready for it another day. And as I always say, a story untold is a waste and a shame.