I have boxes of journals and index cards, folders of handwritten notes, and a section of my hard drive full of starter poems and essays. Some pieces are further along than others, but they all have one thing in common, they are incomplete.
I look at some of these folders and say these ideas are “in work.” And this is sometimes true. I often write about my life and being in the middle of an event is a great time to take detailed notes because either I haven’t finished living that entire experience or gained the perspective needed to tell a complete story.
But the reality is that the majority of this is creative indecision.
Fortunately, my office can accommodate these boxes and full shelves but earlier this year, I decided that I couldn’t anymore. I could no longer ignore that I start way more than I finish. I began to face my procrastination, my fear, my piles of research — all that holds my writing back.
I still write new things. I can’t help it. The world is interesting — things are happening. But I’m also dedicating time to old projects. When I read an old fragment, sink into my old notes and feelings, I tell myself that I have to finish it in this sitting with what I know right now while so many other shiny things beg for my attention. It’s not a fast process, so I usually do this with a snack and a cool drink. On those days, on those pages, I tell myself I’m not writing, I’m finishing.