This past week, I found myself facing a dilemma.
Boston city corner

Nanowrimo is ending, and I haven’t finished my project. It’s okay because Nano did what I wanted it to, and it got me writing. More than that, it got me thinking even harder about my future as a writer.

A few months ago, after a lot of thinking and soul-searching, I decided I wanted to go back to graduate school to pursue a MA in Book Publishing. This was a critical decision for me as I originally moved here for a completely different graduate program. However, I decided that writing is too important to me to not be a focus in my life, and that I have spent too much of my life with writing on the back burner. I always wanted writing to be a part of my life, but I always pushed it aside while I focused on other things that I perceived as “more important” or “more practical.”

The graduate program I want to apply for allows students in the Book Publishing program to work towards two Master’s degrees, so I could potentially work towards my Master’s in Book Publishing while simultaneously working towards a MFA in Creative Writing. To me, this is the best of both worlds and definitely something I want to go after.

There is, however, a  considerable obstacle in my way. Well, there are a few actually. But the one I’m thinking of is my lack of a portfolio. The first deadline for my application is next November, eleven months from now. Throughout the month of November I familiarized myself with the graduate programs and application processes, and decided to make a conscious effort to work on my portfolio.

A few weeks ago, while thinking about my portfolio, I rediscovered this amazing article from Write to Done on how to finish what you start. The writer recommends that you stop starting new projects and sort through all of your existing ones, separating them into three categories–one for active projects (ones you still want to work on), one for dead projects (the ones you just need to let go of), and one for dormant projects (ones you’ll maybe come back to one day).

So, I went through all of my writing folders and decided which projects I wanted to work on and which I didn’t. I made two new folders–one called Active and one called Dormant– and sorted my projects into them accordingly. I decided that, starting in December, each month I would focus on working on and finishing one of my already started stories.

The Problem

The problem is that I never finished my writing project for Nanowrimo (which I will call Nanoproject from here on out because Nanowrimo Project is too long), and I feel guilty– especially after reading this other really great article on why you should finish everything you start. (I really need to stop reading so many articles on writing. It seriously hinders my productivity.)

I’ve talked a lot about my inability to finish what I start on this blog, so reading that article only compounded the guilt I was already feeling. I really do want to get better at finishing. It’s the only way I’ll ever make it as a writer. But the truth is, my heart was never really in it. I was more excited about writing in general than what I was actually writing about.

Now, I have to choose between continuing my Nanoproject or moving on to something I could potentially use in my portfolio.

I started my Nanoproject as a way to get myself writing. I chose to write about my time in Spain because I didn’t have time to come up with and plan out another idea. It’s not something I want to publish, make public in anyway, or even let anyone else read. It’s kind of just a long journal entry. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I may even pick it up again one day, but for right now it’s going in the Dormant pile.

Subtle Victories

Nanowrimo was great for me this year because it got me writing again and thinking about writing. I’ve written more, and more productively, this month between my Nanoproject, journaling, and the posts I’ve published on this blog than in any other month this past year.

And each time this month that I published a post, it meant that I wrote something beginning to end. It meant I finished something. That’s a victory I can’t ignore. That’s progress. The more than 10,000 words I wrote this month is a win. Each post I write and finish is a win. It’s all improvement.

New Month, New Goals

My goal this upcoming month is to finish a short story I started over the summer. I picked this particular story to work on because I’ve already written a good portion of it, and because I have a pretty clear image of it in my head. I previously took a break from it because I was stuck on a few parts, but for the most part I know how this story should play out. I’ve already started thinking about it, and I’m excited to start working on it again.

I also plan to post on this blog at least once a week by Saturday (unless my days off change again), if only to update about my progress and keep myself accountable.


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