Even Stephen King Abandons Projects

Cheney Meaghan Giordano

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Once in a while, when I am feeling particularly like a failure as a writer, I like to take some comfort in the company of my favorite author, Stephen King.

We meet sometimes on YouTube, where there are videos of his talks and interviews which I can watch and remind myself that sometimes dreams come true for people and miracles are possible.

Amazing stories can be written by prolific, tremendous writers, and they are regular people too, reminding myself of that can be very cathartic when I’m feeling lost in the weeds of a manuscript, or if I’m between projects and not writing at all.

In the midst of this very long but very awesome talk, Stephen King talks about something I do all the time and totally hate myself for.

He talks about abandoning projects, and how often he does it.

The story he tells begins with an idea he has while waiting for his wife to come out of an airport bathroom. He notices that women are going into the bathroom but it’s taking forever for them to come out, and he starts imagining that as a story — a ladies room where the women go in but they never come out.

He started writing the story later, called The Ladies Room, and said that he was plowing along nicely with ladies going in and not returning, and finally he sends in a male character to investigate, and there is a flash of light in the bathroom and then the man doesn’t come out either….

And then Stephen King had no idea where the story was going, so he stopped writing it.

He said something along the lines of:

“Eighty pages in and I didn’t know where the hell I was going, so I threw it in a drawer and that’s it, if you want to finish it, go ahead.”

I don’t know about you, but I have SO MANY stories in a drawer.

Actually, I have so many stories in binders on a shelf and files on my computer, but at any rate I have more unfinished stories than finished ones, and it makes me feel a lot better that my favorite writer, and one of the most successful writers ever, sometimes has the same problem.

Stephen King is not a plotter. He doesn’t outline or plan out his stories in advance, and almost never knows how they are going to end when he begins them.

He, like me, takes a leap of faith every time we start something new, and it’s so scary to think that you are going to dedicate so much time and effort to a story only to have it be abandoned because you just can’t see the path ahead.

This is the kind of fear that leads to resistance, so I take a lot of comfort in knowing that even the best of writers struggle with the same problem, and you should, too.

It’s okay to abandon a project if it isn’t working out, or if you can’t figure out where it’s going right now.

You can stick that story in the drawer, and who knows, maybe months or even years later you will pick it up again and turn it into something great — and finished.

Or, maybe that story just wasn’t meant to be told.

There is only so much time in the day to get our writing done, you know.

We can’t waste too much time being stuck on something that isn’t working.

We have to use our time and creativity to tell the stories that are flowing out of us like they’re being dictated from our own personal muse, or, we have to sit our butts down at the chair every day and keep trying to plug away at the thing we think is going to work.

It’s totally okay to give up on some of the things that don’t work.

Even Stephen King does it.

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I write about parenting, family, relationships, education, disability, mental health, and a whole lot about writing.

Salem, CT
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