Spring has arrived as it does every year and the change of season is cause to celebrate. As I walked around town recently with my daughter and four-year-old granddaughter, (who stopped for a good splash in every puddle), we commented on the new murals painted in store windows. People seemed more relaxed and friendly. The masks are gone now and we are more aware than ever before of the privilege of seeing faces. We are reconnected as a community. The fear that seemed to be hiding around every corner has been banished and there is a feeling of hope again.
With the season of new beginnings upon us, it may be time to start something new in our writing as well. Although we try our best, sometimes things don’t go as we hoped and we have to come to the conclusion that our work needs to be shelved. There are many reasons why a writer might decide to set aside a piece and start something new. Maybe you’ve queried for months and had no success. Maybe the idea for the piece could not be sustained. It could be a realization that the work isn’t your best and no matter how hard you try to improve it, it just isn’t working. It could be that it’s the wrong season for that book or that idea and you may put it away for a time, not forever. No matter the reason, it is a hard decision to shelve something you’ve been working on and start again. It can be hard to face the fact that it isn’t working but sometimes, the best thing is to start something new. A new book that has nothing to do with the last one, perhaps even a new genre or point of view than what you’ve written in the past might unlock something valuable. Recognizing what isn’t working and changing direction is part of maturing. It can feel like failure but I don’t think we need to be afraid of that word. It simply means discovering what isn’t working.
Our stories are important. They deserve our best and if we keep going on something just to avoid a sense of failure, the story will suffer. It won’t be the thing we imagined or the blessing we hoped for; it will just be an act of our will. If instead, we set it aside and prayerfully consider starting something new, we may find the inspiration, motivation and words we were lacking. If nothing else, trying something new changes our perspective, opens our eyes to new possibilities, stretches us and enables us to learn new things.
The best thing for your writing could be to take a break from it. To get outside and take in the sun and fresh air. To change where you spend your time. To see friends and family or to enjoy some solitude. To pick up a book and read instead of write. Maybe it is time to travel, see some new places or try a new sport. Anything to open up your mind, learn something new, find a different perspective. We are wired for community. Writing can become very isolating but even the most introverted of us needs social connection in some form. Maybe it is time to go for a walk, smile at those you meet, visit your local library or coffee shop and be rejuvenated.