What’s Wrong with Drowning in WIPs?

Hey friends. I just wanted to throw this out there because I see a lot of posts online from writers lamenting that they’re starting new WIPs without finishing the old ones. Some of this is in the form of memes and jokes, some of it is in the form of updates or confessionals, but there’s always this implication that writers are doing something wrong by starting something new before the old thing is finished, hopping from project to project, or working on multiple WIPs at once. So I just want to say this:

The writing process is not linear.

Bouncing between multiple WIPs is totally okay.

Abandoning old WIPs that you’re no longer interested in is totally okay.

Starting 10 or 20 or 30 stories for every 1 story that you finish is totally okay.

Only wanting to work on something that’s exciting to you (a new thing) and not something you’ve burned out on (an old thing) is totally okay.

I get that feeling like you’re always starting and never finishing anything is a big bummer. But it may help to remember that despite years of capitalist indoctrination, the creative process is not an assembly line.

Sometimes it takes writing 100 pages to realize that your idea is untenable, or that you’re not actually that interested in it, or that you want to take things in a completely different direction with a totally new story.

I’m a published writer and I average at least 10-15 WIPs for each one that I actually finish. It may take me two sentences to abandon it, or 200 pages. And sometimes I come back to them and finish them in the future. But after 20 years of writing my computer is full of barely-started stories that were destined, for whatever reason, to die.

If you’re turning your back on a story that really excites you and you deeply wish you could complete because you’re scared or blocked, that’s a frustrating pattern that’s totally worth trying to fix (I’ll be addressing this problem in detail in a new book I’m working on!). But for the most part, having a ton more WIPs that you actually finish is a completely normal part of the creative process and you don’t need to be so hard on yourself about it. You’re doing great, and I’m cheering for you.