When it comes to re-starting an old project where do you begin?
I’ve spoken before about the (many) half-finished or just-started documents that are saved to my computer, etc. but it’s not like I begin with the intention to leave them as they are. Generally, I have the best intentions when I start tapping away at the keyboard.
So, I’d like to turn the attention of those best intentions towards a couple of my old projects that I would love to see cross the finish line.
How do I start them all over again?
Yes, I’ve got words already and there are possibly some notes lying around somewhere if I can find the right folder but, that doesn’t necessarily make the writing process any easier.
Notes can be great guidelines if you’re the kind of person who likes to keep a record of their creativity but, if the project has been on the back burner for a while then you’re bound to have changed your mind about some of the elements of your story. Change is just part of the process. Throwing everything out and re-writing it all from scratch may not be the best way to go but, sticking to your old, possibly out-of-date notes like they’re your own personal rulebook isn’t likely to be the best option either.
What do I usually do when I’m in this situation? Well, I tend to read through what I’ve already got but, it’s not very often that I’ll get to the end before I’m opening up another document at the side of the screen and I’m starting to fix things. More often than not ‘fix’ means that I’m writing the story from the beginning with the changes mixed in. It’s pretty rare that I’ll just make bullet points, etc. concerning any solutions if I know where I want the new elements to go.
That’s not to say that I’ve never looked at an old piece of writing and been happy reading through the whole thing (best feeling ever).
However, with the projects I’d like to tackle right now that’s not really the case. I was never completely happy with first project and I am, in fact, planning to write a brand new opening to the whole story. I’d also like to lengthen it as I think (and have been told) that it would make a pretty good novel rather than a short story which was it’s first incarnation.
As for the other project, I was interrupted before I could finish writing everything that I’d planned and it was a little bit out-of-sight-out-of-mind for a while but I still like the premise. It’s nice to feel excited about looking over an old project rather than slightly wary.
For the two projects I have in mind I’m sure that, as well as increasing the word count, I’ll look at fixing any problems that are already there. I know I usually say that fixing problems falls under the category of ‘editing’ but you shouldn’t be afraid to use what you’ve already got. Starting from a blank page with an old idea can feel more like starting from scratch than coming back to something familiar.