Returning to an Unfinished and Previously Ditched Draft #SundayBlogShare #writers


Many months ago you ditched your unfinished draft. Writer / draft relations sadly broke down at 56k words. In your head the story was amazing and definitely a literary masterpiece, but reality was very different on paper.

There was something wrong with the draft but you couldn’t work out what it was. Instead of thinking it through you hit the ‘ditch draft’ button!

After wiping away your tears and taking a couple of deep breaths you placed your unfinished draft in a folder and vowed to never open it again.

After a few weeks of wandering around like a lost soul you started to rebuild your writing life; creating a new story and making some new character friends.

One day out of the blue you find yourself going back to it.

There are 5 stages to returning to an old and previously ditched draft:

  1. Echo from the past.  You will be enjoying your new writing life; working hard on a brand new story and socialising in your head with some enchanting new characters. Your unfinished and previously ditched draft will just be a distant memory. Whilst doing something unrelated to writing (house work, shopping, driving etc) you will get an unexpected echo from your literary past. It will come to you in the form of a memory from your old unfinished story or you might meet a person in your daily life who reminds you of one of your old characters. Whatever forms it comes in, the echo will make your literary ears prick up.
  2. Denial. It really is amazing how something like your old draft, deemed as dead and buried, can overnight come alive again in your mind. Soon you find yourself thinking about it whilst sat in traffic or matching your loved one socks. You will tell yourself that all these thoughts mean nothing. It was ditched for a good reason.
  3. Revelation. Your relationship with your old novel came to a grinding halt over a plot issue. Back then it seemed insurmountable. From nowhere you suddenly get a powerful literary revelation. The answer to the problem with your draft hits you whilst hanging washing out to dry in the garden. Gasp!  The sequence of events in your plot was in the wrong order – that’s why it didn’t work! You wonder whether the answer has just been given to you by some higher spiritual being. After staggering about looking confused and getting some raised eyebrows from the neighbours you realise that your old draft could be rescued. It will just require some reordering and a bit of rewriting. You roll your eyes and exhale loudly. Your mind recalls all the literary pain you went through just after Christmas when everything felt bleak and there was a growing sense of doom associated with your half-finished novel. All those tears and creative tantrums now feel like a waste of time.
  4. The Return. You remove your old half-finished novel from its folder and dust it off. After a few deep breaths you start to read. It’s not an enjoyable task reading something you wrote months ago as time has passed and your eyes will now be seeing what you failed to see when your literary love was blind. Grammar issues, typos, poorly constructed sentences and dodgy physical descriptions will be jumping up at you. Ugh! It will feel similar to wading through a foul-smelling bog!  You may even find that whilst reading you are letting out some groans, sighs and a couple of ‘was I on medication when I wrote this?”
  5. Hope. There is hope because after reading it you decide that it’s not that bad. Yes it is smelly in places and there is a serious structure issue but it still gives you that old magical feeling. You just needed time (a lot of it!) to be able to see the error of your ways.

Never delete old half-finished drafts. Sometimes your creative brain needs time (months) to stew and work through the literary issues.

Have a great day!

Photo: Pixabay.

Posted by

Lucy Mitchell lives in South Wales with her husband, her two teenage daughters, a giant labrador and a gang of unruly cats. Lucy is the author of the award winning blog, BlondeWriteMore and was a Featured Romance Author on Wattpad. When she’s not working or writing, Lucy can be found listening to audiobooks in a muddy field with her dog or sat outside her local pub in the sunshine enjoying a glass of wine. Her debut novel Instructions Falling In Love Again is OUT now and already pulling in some fabulous reviews ❤️

42 thoughts on “Returning to an Unfinished and Previously Ditched Draft #SundayBlogShare #writers

  1. I’ve actually rewritten old novels. Rock and Roll Dreams from 1995 became Dream On in 2012 (set in 2007/8). You wouldn’t believe how much updating you have to do, even for 12 years difference!

  2. Very true… I have a few unfinished drafts… And not one completed one!! But they all have a little fresh breath breathed into them when I terrace them.,. I just need time!!!

  3. Months?? Try years! But a bereavement, a house move, caring for a terminally ill parent and then another bereavement were the cause of putting two aside when the muse was crushed rather than issues with the stories (!00,000+ crime novel and a 50’000+ historical crime). The muse has returned but with the demand for two very different stories (one completed in 1st draft and one approaching completion). When I’ve got them edited and out of my system then I’ll take a look at my old stuff .

      1. I’m a firm believer that everything can be reworked or tweaked… even if I can’t see it right away. Instead, I let friends or family read it and then marinate on their thoughts before moving forward.

      2. It was something I picked up from all the writing podcasts and YouTube booktubers I follow. Even a chapter I deleted will be repurposed by using it to showcase the work when I start advertising book two.

  4. This just happened to me! Wrote something years ago and, yes–pretty much went through all five stages. Glad I’ve got most of my old stuff kicking around somewhere! 🙂

  5. I have two trunk novels that I dredge out from time to time and re-butcher but I haven’t done so in a few years. Now that I’ve finished novel number four and put it up on Amazon I think it’s time to have another go at one of those lost babies. You have inspired me…

  6. I have several novels and story collections macerating in a filing cabinet. Every once in a while, I will get an idea about a plot point or character and tuck it in the drawer. I hope when I return to them, the characters will be speaking to me again.

      1. I keep meaning to tell you (getting all girly and shallow here), I totally love your new avi. “Like, oh my gosh, it is so awesome!” No, really, you should keep this one for your book. It’s very author-like. You look beautiful and professional and still like you. It’s perfect.

  7. Oh gosh! I can’t count the number of times this has happened to me. Granted, I’m really bad at continuing with my drafts. >.> I get one started, get all the important parts down and then just… lose momentum. *sigh* But I have been trying to get my mind in the right… uh… mind-set (;p) to pick up my drafts and really crack down and finish them this time. (And I did have one of those ‘wow’ moments where I couldn’t believe I was doing what I was doing. Time away [and family] are good for literary clarity. ^.^)

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