Like most writers I’ve begun writing many pieces that were quickly abandoned. Some are electronic files sitting in my computer, on my phone, or emailed to myself; others are written out long-hand on pads of lined paper; and still others are mere thoughts scribbled onto whatever scrap of paper was handy.
I remember reading that Abraham Lincoln kept important papers in his hat. He would scratch notes to himself on shreds torn from the day’s newspaper or the back of a menu. He stuck a note on top of a stack of loose papers that said:
When you can’t find it anywhere else, look here.
Every so often I come across some writing I’ve abandoned. Sometimes I can’t figure out what it was I had in mind. Other times I mumble to myself, “Hmmm, this could be a good start to a new book…or story…or article.” Of course, some are best to leave abandoned.
It’s important for writers to revisit their previous writing, both the finished pieces and the abandoned ones. Finished pieces, assuming they haven’t yet been published, may take on new life with a tweak here, and updating there, or a complete remake from a different perspective. Even if they have been published (congratulations!), they can still often be repurposed in other venues.
The unfinished abandoned pieces are the most intriguing. What were you thinking when you felt it was important enough to write down and save for the future? Was it the flash idea for a new story you can now flesh out? A topic you could explore in greater depth for that new magazine? A framework for the next “Great American Novel?”
Think about those abandoned works. And think about how you may adopt them into your current writing. You wrote them down at one point in the past; perhaps they can be the seed that grows into the great oak of the future.
Reclaim your abandoned writing.
[This post is written in response to the one-word prompt – Abandoned]
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (Fall River Press) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book is about Thomas Edison, due in Barnes and Noble stores in summer 2016.